Wolverines Use Seventh-Inning Rally to Edge Iowa

April 24, 2011

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Complex)
Score: #1 Michigan 3, Iowa 2
Records: U-M (42-4, 10-2 Big Ten), Iowa (26-17, 8-4 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, April 30 -- at Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.), noon CDT

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Shaking off a sluggish start at the plate, the No. 1-ranked University of Michigan softball team scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to surge past Iowa, 3-2, on Sunday afternoon (April 24) in front of 1,221 fans at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field. With the victory, the Wolverines earned the series split against Iowa and improved to 10-2 in Big Ten Conference play to stay atop the league standings.

Senior designated player Alycia Ryan (Morristown, N.J./Morristown HS) registered the game-winning hit with the bases loaded and two down in the seventh, connecting with the 1-1 pitch and knocking a deep fly ball to rightfield. The liner hit the wall and bounced back into play, allowing freshman pinch runner Taylor Hasselbach (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston HS) to race home from third base. It was the first walkoff hit of Ryan's career and the second walkoff Michigan victory of the season.

The Wolverines led off the seventh with back-to-back base hits as sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) doubled to the right-centerfield gap and freshman catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield HS) lifted a bloop single up the middle. After a full-count walk loaded the bases, senior pinch hitter Marley Powers (Owosso, Mich./Owosso HS) smacked a deep fly ball to centerfield to score U-M's first run on the sacrifice fly.

Freshman rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community HS) reached safely on a fielder's choice grounder to third to quickly reload the bases, and after a quick out, the Wolverines used another fielder's choice to secure the tying run when the Hawkeye first baseman could not make a play on junior centerfielder Bree Evans' (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) grounder down the line.

Junior LHP Hilary Payne (Plymouth, Mich./Canton HS) earned the victory in relief, improving to 3-0 on the season with a solid one-hit, one-run effort through the final three innings. Sophomore RHP Stephanie Speierman (Columbia, Md./Hammond HS) was similarly effective through the game's opening four frames, striking out two Iowa batters while allowing three hits and four walks.

The Hawkeyes earned their runs in the third and sixth innings, knocking out a leadoff solo blast in the former frame before stringing together a walk and an RBI double in the latter.

Michigan will travel to Madison, Wis., next weekend for a two-game series against Wisconsin, squaring off at noon CDT on Saturday (April 30) and 3 p.m. CDT on Sunday (May 1) at the Goodman Softball Complex. Sunday's game will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.


• With the victory, Michigan improved to 50-54-1 in the all-time series against Iowa.

• The Wolverines' walkoff win was their second of the season. U-M previously defeated Valparaiso on a bases-loaded, two-out fielding error at the UCF Invitational (March 1).

• Since earning a regular starting role early in Big Ten play, senior designated player Alycia Ryan has batted .323 (10-for-31) with eight RBI over the last 11 games. Today's game was her first in the No. 3 spot in the batting order.

• Junior centerfielder Bree Evans extended her hitting streak to a career-best 14 games with a 1-for-4 effort today against the Hawkeyes. Over the stretch, Evans has batted .442 (23-for-52) with eight multi-hit games from the leadoff spot.


Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On the team's hitting and energy ... "With Jordan (Taylor) out, we were concerned yesterday about our pitching status. Our pitchers' job is to do their part, and our hitters' job is to do their part. Our pitchers did fine. The hitters are supposed to stay focused on their deal, and I wasn't very happy yesterday with our team chemistry. I thought they were a little all over the map. We didn't have a lot of energy today. We've really been struggling the last few weeks with our energy and people trying too hard. I was happy to see them break out. The one thing I want from my team is for them to all get together and play to win the game. They didn't care who stepped up to win the game; they just wanted to win. That's what we want.

"It's good for us to battle through it. We have to be able to score runs and have to be able to play without some of our players. With that being said, there's always an adjustment period. The kids have to adjust to it. They rely on Jordan a lot, and hopefully, by the time she gets back, they won't feel the need to rely on her."

On the role players earning playing time ... "I thought Hilary (Payne) was outstanding. We used her a little bit down at Illinois, and Illinois is a really good hitting team. They hit her a little bit, but I thought Jen (Brundage) made a nice adjustment this week on her offspeed and her body speed. She looked a lot better. You look at Hilary, and she's been biding her time. You look at Marley (Powers) -- she hasn't hit for weeks, but I kept telling her to be patient because she'd get her chance. Alycia (Ryan) falls into that category too. These are kids who haven't really gotten to play; they make the most of any opportunity they get. They rose to the occasion, and I'm really proud of them."

On senior Alycia Ryan ... "Alycia is just doing her part, and I knew that she would continue to do her part. She walks in every day and looks at the lineup board to see if she's on it. She doesn't make too much of it. She just views it as an opportunity. It's like the Rudy story. Those kids rise to the occasion, because they're excited to play. And the kids are excited for her. There's no way not to be happy for her; she's the nicest kid ever invented."

U-M Senior Designated Player Alycia Ryan
On her game-winning hit ... "My teammates did such a great job of putting the pieces together ahead of me. When I went up to the plate, I just wanted to have a good, quality at-bat. I'd had a few at-bats prior, so I was just trying to see the pitch that I wanted to hit and hit the ball hard. That was the biggest thing for me; I just wanted to hit the ball hard and make them make a play. That was the goal, and I'm so glad it worked out that way."

On moving up in the lineup ... "I think it's so great that the coaches have confidence in me. I'm just happy to be in the lineup and be contributing. I tried to keep the same mindset. Hutch told me before the game, 'Nothing changes, it just means you bat sooner.' So that's really the mentality I focused on."

U-M Junior LHP Hilary Payne
On entering the game in the fifth inning ... "I'm always excited to have an opportunity to pitch. I just wanted to keep my team in the game and focus on one pitch, one inning at a time. You just want to make sure you keep your team in the game and give them the chance to score some runs."

On the team's ability to come back ... "I think we came together really well at the end and did a good job fighting back. In the beginning, we were a little bit down, but we gathered together for each other. It was a whole team effort."

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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