March 27, 2011
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Scores: #4 Michigan 7, Northwestern 4
Records: U-M (31-2, 2-0 Big Ten), Northwestern (14-9, 0-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Wednesday, March 30 -- vs. Bowling Green (Wilpon Softball Complex), 4 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Junior third baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) knocked out a fifth-inning grand slam to guide the No. 4-ranked University of Michigan softball team to a 7-4 comeback victory against rival Northwestern on Sunday afternoon (March 27) at the Wildcats' Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
For the second consecutive day, the Wolverines shook off a sluggish start at the plate to record seven hits against Northwestern. Chidester placed Michigan's offense, going 2-for-4 with four runs batted in, while freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco HS) similarly recorded two hits -- her second straight multi-hit game -- and freshman catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield HS) knocked in a pair of run on her 1-for-3 effort.
Senior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) grew stronger as the game wore on, improving to 16-2 with her second complete-game victory of the weekend. Taylor struck out four Wildcat batters and allowed seven hits -- the bulk of which came in the opening three innings -- and a pair of walks.
Chidester's grand slam came with one out in the fifth inning and followed a pair hits and a walk. Junior centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) initiated the rally with a blooper to the right-centerfield gap, before Sappingfield went the opposition direction, slapping a single into shallow leftfield. Senior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) accepted a five-pitch walk to load the bases for Chidester, who took a pitch in the dirt before connecting with the second, smashing it over the fence in straightaway centerfield for her fourth career grand slam.
Michigan had narrowed the gap in the previous inning as Blanchard used a two-out single to drive in a pair of runs and pull U-M within a score on the scoreboard. Shaw was hit by the first pitch of the inning and was replaced on base by sophomore pinch runner Jaclyn Crummey (Macomb, Mich./Dakota HS). Chidester joined her on base in the next at-bat, lining one into shallow centerfield for U-M's first hit of the contest. After a quick strikeout, both base runners advanced on a groundout to first, and the extra bases proved advantageous when Blanchard blooped the next pitch into the middle infield gap. Northwestern shortstop Emily Allard dove for the ball, but it ricocheted off her glove, allowing Chidester to round third and score.
The two teams traded runs to provide the final margin. The Wildcats responded to Michigan's fifth-inning grand slam with a run in the home half of the frame, using a two-out single to the left-centerfield wall to narrow the gap to two. However, the Maize and Blue followed suit in the seventh, reestablishing the three-run cushion on sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane's (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) RBI single to shallow centerfield.
The Wildcats garnered their early advantage on a two-run homer in the bottom of the first and an RBI single in the third.
Michigan will kick off the home portion of its 2011 schedule on Wednesday (March 30), hosting Bowling Green for a 4 p.m. non-conference slate at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field
N O T E S
With today's victory, Michigan improved to 65-33 in the all-time series against Northwestern. U-M has won four in a row against the Wildcats, sweeping each of the last two season series.
Michigan has given up the initial lead only four times this season. Today's three-run deficit was the largest U-M has overcome this season.
Senior RHP Jordan Taylor improved her career record to 92-15 with today's decision, moving to the third spot among Michigan's all-time win leaders, where she is tied with former teammate Nikki Nemitz (92-21, 2007-10). Taylor needs six more wins to reach the second spot, currently held by Jennie Ritter (98-22, 2003-06).
Junior third baseman Amanda Chidester's fifth-inning grand slam was the third by Michigan this season. The Wolverines have homered in 22 of 33 games this season, including five of the last seven. Six different Wolverines boast multiple homers on the year.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On Michigan resiliency ... "We rely on a lot of different people. Yesterday's heroes were Marley [Powers] and Amy [Knapp], and today it was Caitlin [Blanchard], who had what ended up being a bloop hit. We have a lot of different weapons, but I think more than anything, we have Jordan Taylor.
"Jordan was a warrior this weekend. Thank goodness she was, because we weren't. From about the fifth inning and beyond today, I felt like we finally stopped worrying about losing and started playing to win. We were just swinging a little defensively. We were getting cheated with our swings, and I give Northwestern a lot of credit; they don't get cheated, they swing and keep attacking. Even when we went ahead I thought this game wasn't over. So, getting that insurance run in the seventh was huge."
On returning home for several games ... "I can't wait to be home for three weeks. My dog can't wait. It's a long preseason. With the wear and tear on the kids, the traveling, all the back and forth and schlepping around, for us to do what we've done thus far is incredible. I give my kids a lot of credit -- more than I give them face to face. They've done a great job."
U-M Junior Amanda Chidester
On the weekend ... "We came in and didn't have great energy all weekend. The coaches stayed on us about that -- about getting up and playing Michigan softball. We struggled a little bit, but we always seem to start picking it up toward the end. Jordan [Taylor] came in and gave us a few words of wisdom that really fired us up. It was a good team effort today. Caitlin's hit gave us a big energy boost -- that kind of stuff always is -- and it was good to swing momentum back our way. I think you saw that in the next inning."
On the weather ... "It's definitely a big adjustment, and it was really hard at first. Our hands feel like they're falling off when we're out there on the field. I think that was the problem with our energy; we were too focused on the cold instead of the game. Once we got used to it, it was easier to get our energy back into the game. We couldn't do anything about it, so we just had to keep playing."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423