April 12, 2011
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Scores: #4 Michigan 6, Western Michigan 1
Records: U-M (36-3), Western Michigan (10-24)
Next U-M Event: Wednesday, April 13 -- vs. Central Michigan (Wilpon Complex), 6 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team carried its recent hitting surge into midweek action, recoding double-digit hits en route to a 6-1 decision against intrastate rival Western Michigan on Tuesday evening (April 12) in front of 939 fans at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field.
Freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco HS) and sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) posted similar 3-for-4 efforts from the plate to pace the Wolverine offense. Sappingfield had two runs batted in -- her sixth multi-RBI performance of the season -- as did junior third baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) on a first-inning fielder's choice and subsequent sacrifice fly.
Sophomore RHP Stephanie Speierman (Columbia, Md./Hammond HS) earned the victory from the circle, improving to 17-0 on the season with a two-strikeout, four-hit performance through five innings. Speierman was perfect through three frames before allowing an unearned run in the top of the fourth.
The Wolverines claimed a first-inning advantage for the third consecutive contest, taking advantage of a bases-loaded, no-out scenario to push across the game's initial run on Chidester's RBI fielder's choice. Junior centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) led off the frame with a looping double to shallow centerfield and advanced on Sappingfield's infield single and a wild pitch before scoring when the WMU third baseman took Chidester's high chopper and elected to step on the bag rather than throw for home.
Michigan quickly put two aboard in the second on leadoff walk and an overthrow to first base off sophomore Amy Knapp's (St. Joseph, Mich./Lakeshore HS) sac-bunt attempt, and freshman Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community HS) made the Broncos pay for the free bases, driving in a run on a shallow poke to leftfield. Two batters later, with Knapp occupying third, Sappingfield knocked a bouncing single through the left side to secure her first RBI of the contest.
Western Michigan broke through with a run in the top of the fourth, using three hits and a Wolverine throwing error to first erase Speierman's no-hitter before spoiling her shutout bid. WMU ace Meredith Whitney looped a single to rightfield from the leadoff spot, advanced on a bunt base hit and an overthrow to first base before coming home, unearned, on leftfielder Country Rosseau's single up the middle.
The Wolverines responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Sappingfield followed back-to-back singles from Doyle and Evans with a bouncing RBI single just past the extended glove of WMU's diving second baseman. A four-pitch walk loaded the bases for Chidester, who sailed a deep fly ball to the track in left centerfield, allowing Evans to trot home from third. Lane took the next pitch and smacked it to the same spot, driving in Sappingfield on her ninth double of the season.
Both teams threatened with base runners in the later innings, and the Wolverines worked out of jams in the fifth and sixth frames. Junior LHP Hilary Payne (Plymouth, Mich./Canton HS) entered in sixth frame and allowed just one hit while striking out three to close out the victory for Michigan.
The Wolverines will wrap up their recent home stand with a midweek game against intrastate rival Central Michigan tomorrow (Wednesday, April 13). First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field.
N O T E S
With their win today, the Wolverines improved to 42-8-1 in the all-time series against Western Michigan. U-M has won six in a row against the Broncos.
Both freshman Nicole Sappingfield and sophomore Ashley Lane matched career bests with their three-hit efforts against Western Michigan. Lane has registered three-hit performances in six games this season, while Sappingfield owns a pair of three-hit efforts.
Junior Amanda Chidester has recorded at least one RBI in each of the last four games and boasts 16 RBI over the Wolverines' last six games.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On giving a variety of players playing time ... "It's nice to give them a chance to play. It wasn't a give-away game; it was a game, so I was pleased with that. Late in the game, there was not one player on the field who played regularly for us last year. I guess I've got to get used to that. There was a point in Sunday's game where it was all freshmen and sophomores. How about that? And I thought we looked pretty good."
On the team's energy ... "I told them before game, 'Don't play to the opponent,' because the midweek game against a non-rival is just harder. I get that. But play with Michigan pride and passion. I thought we did a pretty good job with it today. I've seen our energy better, but I've also seen it worse in a game setting like that. So, I thought they did a good job."
On the Wolverine pitchers ... "I thought [Stephanie] Speierman did a nice job. I was very pleased with her performance today. One walk. She is working hard to get better, and she took advantage of that opportunity today. I also thought Hilary [Payne] did a great job. Some of those kids don't get to play that often, so I wanted to see them get in there and get after it like you belong there. I thought Hilary was a good example of that."
U-M Sophomore RHP Stephanie Speierman
On her game today ... "I'm just working on getting better. That's the whole goal over the course of the season is to be the best at the end. I'm trying to go out and stay one-pitch focused. I can think whatever I want about the last pitch, but the second I step back onto the mound, I need to believe that the next pitch I throw is the only one that matters. The first couple of innings today, I felt like I was able to do that very well. There were moments that I was a little wild, and I was able to recognize that I wasn't focused enough. I felt like I was able to do a pretty good job with getting back to that one-pitch focus."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423