Site: Bloomington, Ind. (IU Varsity Softball Complex)
Scores: #1 Michigan 9, Indiana 0 (5 innings); #1 Michigan 10, Indiana 2 (6 innings)
Records: U-M (44-3, 11-1 Big Ten), Indiana (12-31, 2-8 Big Ten)
Next U-M Game: Tuesday, Apr. 19 -- DH vs. Eastern Michigan (Alumni Field), 4:00 p.m.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The No. 1-ranked University of Michigan softball team played like a squad that has no intention of surrendering the nation's top ranking, as today's (Sunday, April 17) doubleheader sweep at Indiana proved one for the record books. First, junior hurler Jennie Ritter (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) threw a five-inning perfect game in a 9-0 win in game one for her third no-hitter of the season, which matches a school record, and for her 20th win of the season. Ritter then came out of the bullpen in game two and earned the win in a 10-0, six-inning romp to up her season mark to 21-0.
Ritter has four no-hitters in her career and back-to-back 20-win seasons in the circle.
Game two, however, belonged to Michigan's power hitters as Jessica Merchant (Wayland, Mich./Wayland HS) set the Michigan single-season home run record with her 16th blast in the third inning. She broke her own record which was set last season, but her new mark lasted a considerably shorter time frame. How about three innings Samantha Findlay (Lockport, Ill./East HS), who put Michigan on the board in game two with a two-run bomb in the first inning, hit another immediately after Merchant in the third and then ended the game in the bottom of the sixth to match a school record with three home runs in one game.
Findlay's three home runs match the record set last season by Nicole Motycka (Sarasota, Fla./Cardinal Mooney HS) and give her 16 home runs on the season to share the single-season mark with Merchant.
Ritter overwhelmed the Hoosiers in the opener, striking out nine of the 15 batters she faced, including four of the first six. Before Findlay and Merchant began waging their long ball duel in the game two, the Michigan power source in game one came from less likely participants. Stephanie Bercaw (Wooster, Ohio/Hilldsale HS), who had just one hit in her previous six games, came through with a two-out, two-run home run to start the scoring in the second.
The Wolverines proved they don't necessarily need the long ball to put runs on the board with three in the third thanks to four singles, including a pair of run-scoring singles from Motycka and Grace Leutele (Sierra Vista, Ariz./Buena HS) with two out. Motycka and Leutele, often overlooked because of Merchant and Findlay's home run barrage, have now driven in 32 and 35 runs, respectively. They have 17 RBI apiece with two outs this season.
The story of game one remained Ritter, who struck out five of her last six hitters she faced and did not allow a ball out of the infield for her first career perfect game. Alessandra Giampaolo (Pasadena, Calif./Polytechnic HS) hit a two-run shot in the fourth and Michigan added two more in the fifth for the 9-0 run-rule victory.
Game two was left in doubt a little longer, although Lorilyn Wilson (Salem, Ore./Sprague HS) dominated for the Wolverines with six strikeouts through two innings. Michigan gave her some cushion as well as the Wolverines again scored in the first inning and again scored with two outs when Findlay connected for home run No. 1.
Michigan's lead was 3-0 in the third when Wilson ran into some trouble, enough to prevent her from getting out of the inning. Wilson's control left her in the third as a walk, hit batsman and wild pitch were combined with a double to bring Indiana within one (3-2). Ritter was called to end the inning with the tying run on second base and did just that.
Ritter tossed 3.1 hitless innings, striking out eight and walking one. For the doubleheader, Ritter threw 8.1 innings without allowing a hit and struck out 17 while walking only one.
Merchant and Findlay continued their battle with a solo home run apiece in the third to give Ritter all the breathing room she would need. Tiffany Haas (Santa Ana, Calif./Foothill HS) and Leutele added RBI doubles in a three-run fifth before Findlay's final home run of the day, a two-run shot to leftfield, sent everybody home a little early.
Michigan gets just one day of rest before returning to the diamond vs. Eastern Michigan on Tuesday (April 19, 4 p.m.) at Alumni Field in the Wolverines' first home appearance since April 3.
N O T E S
Samantha Findlay has four multi-hit games in her last six, including five home runs and 11 RBI. Findlay now leads the Wolverines with 50 RBI, which is the fifth-best single-season total in Michigan history.
Jennie Ritter's perfect game is her third no-hitter of the season and the fourth by the Wolverines, matching the school record for no-hitters in a season. The 1996 Wolverine staff also threw four no-hitters.
Jennie Ritter, who no-hit Florida and South Florida earlier this season and Notre Dame as a sophomore, is tied with Vicki Morrow (1984-87) for the most no-hitters in school history.
Samantha Findlay scored a Michigan season-best four runs in game two.
The Wolverines' four-home run effort in the nightcap is a season high. Michigan has now hit a home run in 42 of 47 games this season and is 40-2 in those games. The Wolverines have hit a school-record 73 home runs this season while allowing just eight.
Michigan's 73 home runs this season is tied for the 16th most in NCAA Division I history with the 1998 Alabama team. The all-time NCAA Division I record is 126, set by Arizona in 2001.
The Wolverines, who have hit eight home runs in their last three games, have multiple home runs in 22 of 47 games this season.
Grace Leutele finished the doubleheader 4-5 with three runs scored, two RBI and two doubles.
Tiffany Haas went 2-4 in the nightcap for her team-leading 20th multi-hit game of the season. One of her hits was her team-best 12th double of the season. She is also hitting a team-best .400 after today's action.
Contact: Rich Marion (734) 763-4423