April 2, 2011
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Scores: #3 Michigan 2, Indiana 1; Indiana 5, #3 Michigan 4 (8 inn.)
Records: U-M (33-3, 3-1 Big Ten), Indiana (20-14, 2-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, April 9 -- vs. Purdue (Wilpon Softball Complex), 3 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan softball team split its Big Ten Conference doubleheader against Indiana, winning 2-1 in the opener before a pair of comebacks fell short in a 5-4 eight-inning loss in the nightcap on Saturday (April 2) in front 1,271 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. The teams were originally slated to play one game on both Saturday and Sunday (April 3), but a poor weather forecast for tomorrow created a doubleheader today.
Freshman catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield HS) was the hero in Michigan's winning effort, driving in both of the Wolverines' runs in the opener as part of a 2-for-3 effort. Junior centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) posted back-to-back multi-hit performances, going 4-for-8 on the afternoon, while senior designated player Alycia Ryan (Morristown, N.J./Morristown HS) went 2-for-4 in her fourth season start in the nightcap.
Senior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) took both decisions, upping her record to 17-3 on the season, with 14 strikeouts and 11 hits and no walks allowed through 10 innings. Taylor captured the pitcher's duel in game one, edging Hoosier ace Morgan Melloh, who wrapped the day with 21 strikeouts -- 14 in the nightcap -- and 14 hits and eight walks allowed.
The teams remained scoreless through three frames in the opener, before Blanchard initiated scoring with a fourth-inning run-scoring double. Sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) led off with a full-count walk, and after sophomore shortstop Amy Knapp (St. Joseph, Mich./Lakeshore HS) used a fielder's choice to replace her at first, Blanchard connected in the next at-bat, lining one deep to the rightfield wall to knock in the winning run.
With the wind picking late in the game and blowing eastward -- toward the rightfield fence -- Blanchard took advantage in the sixth, lifting a leadoff flyball high into the air and allowing the wind to carry it out of the park into the rightfield bleacher seats. The solo shot was Blanchard's third home run of the season.
The Hoosiers narrowed the final margin with two outs in the top of the seventh, stringing together a double and a bloop run-scoring single to the gap beyond the pitcher's circle. Taylor responded with a three-pitch strikeout to end the game.
Michigan never led in game two and twice rallied from two-run deficits to even the score, including a two-run bottom of the seventh to force extra innings, but U-M was doomed by a pair of late home runs from Hoosier first baseman Sara Olson.
Olson, who went 3-for-3 with five runs batted in in the contest, also provided her team its early lead in the top of the first, pushing across two runs on a leftfield single.
The Wolverines finally responded in the fifth, capitalizing on a bases-loaded, no-out scenario to pull even on the scoreboard. Ryan and freshman rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community HS) tallied back-to-back chop singles, before an error on Evans' subsequent fielder's choice put her aboard safely. Michigan scored its first run on another Hoosier error, before junior third baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) smacked an RBI double up the middle to knot the score at two apiece.
Olson wasted little time before reestablishing her team's two-run advantage, following a leadoff single with a bomb to centerfield.
Freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco HS) registered a first-pitch leadoff single in the seventh, but Indiana used a strikeout and a fielder's choice to pull within just an out. Lane kept the Wolverine rally going with a hit-by-pitch, before Knapp lofted the 2-1 pitch into shallow rightfield to score sophomore pinch runner Jaclyn Crummey (Macomb, Mich./Dakota HS) from second. Blanchard dribbled a slow grounder to second in the next at-bat, but Indiana misplayed the ball, allowing the tying run to cross home unearned.
The Wolverine rally proved short-lived, however, as Olson knocked out a one-out solo blast into the bullpen beyond the leftfield fence in the extra frame. Michigan could not answer in the home half, dropping its first regular-season game at home in more than two seasons.
The Wolverines will resume Big Ten Conference play next weekend (Sat-Sun., March 9-10), hosting Purdue for a two-game series at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. Saturday's game will start at 3 p.m. and be aired live on the Big Ten Network, while Sunday's game is slated for a 2 p.m. start.
N O T E S
After today's split, Michigan is now 69-27 in the all-times series against Indiana. Prior to the game-two loss, U-M held a 37-game winning streak against the Hoosiers, dating back to April 4, 1996.
Today's loss was also the Wolverines' first regular-season home loss since falling to Northwestern in game one of a doubleheader on April 27, 2008.
Today's second game was Michigan's first extra-inning contest of the season.
Senior designated player Alycia Ryan's two-hit performance in the second game was the first multi-hit effort of her career. After serving a primarily pinch-hit role over her first three seasons, Ryan owns a career-best six hits this season.
Adding her back-to-back two-hit efforts against Indiana, junior Bree Evans owns a team-leading 18 multi-hit games on the season. She has recorded two-or-more hits in six of the last 10 games.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On Indiana pitcher Morgan Melloh ... "She's one of the best we've seen, and that's the kind of pitching we're going to have to beat to get to where we want to go ultimately. So, I told them after the first game that I was happy we were going to see her again and to get up for the challenge. We had a game plan going in against her, and I don't feel like we executed it and I don't really feel like our kids trusted it."
On senior RHP Jordan Taylor ... "I think Jordan Taylor has done her part for us. We can't make her do everything. You look through our lineup and look down the RBI column; you'll see that we need some people to pick it up. She needs some support, because she's not always going to have her best day."
U-M Freshman Caitlin Blanchard
On the Wolverines' day ... "We had a game plan that the coaches gave us, so I just worked with that. We obviously struggled more in the second game. I just think we were trying too hard and not playing the game the way we can. Our past few games, we were able to come from behind, so there was never a point that we thought it was over. I feel like, the whole time, we knew we could come back. It just fell a little short."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423