Taylor, Viefhaus Help Michigan Down Illinois in Big Ten Opener

March 27, 2010

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Score: #2 Michigan 7, #18 Illinois 1
Records: U-M (24-5), Illinois (23-4)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, March 28 -- vs. #18 Illinois (Wilpon Softball Complex), 2 pm.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The No. 2 University of Michigan softball team dominated from the plate and the pitching circle to cruise past No. 18 Illinois, 7-1, in the Big Ten Conference opener on Saturday afternoon (March 27) in front of 1,224 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.

Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs and three runs-batted in to headline the Wolverine offense. Junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) also homered in a 2-for-3 performance, while senior centerfielder Molly Bausher (Las Vegas, Nev./Spring Valley HS) similarly hit 2-for-3 with an RBI at the bottom of the order.

Junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) stifled a potent Illini lineup, striking out 11 while scattering five hits and a walk en route to her 13th win of the season. The Wolverine hurler rolled from the start, fanning five of the first six batters she faced and, in response to allowing a leadoff home run in the fourth, struck four straight between the fourth and fifth frames.

The Wolverines broke through in the second inning, manufacturing three runs off of three hits, a wild pitch and an RBI groundout. Sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) initiated the surge with one down, directing an infield blooper into the gap to the left of the circle, where Illini pitcher Monica Perry failed in her attempt at a backhanded grab. Senior designated player Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) lined the next pitch to the gap in right centerfield, pulling in safely for a double as the ball rolled to the fence. Sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield, Ill./Central HS) loaded the bases in the next at bat, taking an inside pitch off the hand after nearly taking off Chidester's head with a curved liner foul down the leftfield line.

With three aboard, Michigan went to work driving in some runs. Bausher sent an RBI blooper into shallow leftfield and when the next pitch went wild in the dirt, Nemitz raced home and beat the tag at the plate. It only took U-M another three pitches to bring home its third tally as sophomore leftfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) chopped a groundout to the shortstop to score Kirkpatrick from third base.

Viefhaus and Shaw went deep to similar locations in the third, padding Michigan's advantage to five runs with a pair of solo home runs. Viefhaus connected on the first pitch of the inning and rocketed it deep into the trees beyond the left centerfield fence. The home run induced an Illinois pitching change and after a quick groundout, Shaw took the second pitch she saw and drove it back into the leftfield trees - the only thing preventing the ball from sailing into the baseball outfield.

The teams traded long balls in the fourth. Illini first baseman Meredith Hackett did find the baseball outfield with the first pitch of the inning, sending it through the trees in left centerfield. But Viefhaus responded in kind in the home half, following Evans' leadoff low chopper up the middle with her second homer of the afternoon. The Wolverine captain connected with the first pitch of her at bat and sailed it low over the fence in left centerfield. The two home runs marked the first multi-homer effort of Viefhaus' career.

The two teams held each other off the scoreboard in the remaining three frames. Illinois threatened in the sixth, using a pair of hits to put a runner in scoring position with one out, but Taylor responded by retiring the final two, issuing a full-count strikeout to end the inning.

The Wolverines will wrap up the weekend series with Illinois tomorrow (Sunday, March 28). The game is slated for a 2 p.m. start at the Wilpon Softball Complex.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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