April 28, 2010
Site: Columbus, Ohio (Buckeye Field)
Score: #19 Ohio State 5, #2 Michigan 3; #2 Michigan 4, #19 Ohio State 3
Records: U-M (38-6, 14-1 Big Ten), Ohio State (31-12, 10-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Friday, April 30 -- vs. Kentucky (Wilpon Softball Complex), 7 p.m.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Battling through a doubleheader that lived up to its billing, the No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team held on to its early advantage to claim the second game and earn the series split at No. 19 Ohio State on Wednesday evening (April 28) at Buckeye Field. Michigan lost the opener 5-3 but recovered for a 4-3 win in the back end of the twinbill.
For the second straight series, junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) earned both decisions, and she was spectacular in relief in the nightcap, striking out six while allowing one hit and a pair of walks through 3.1 innings. Her game-one effort was solid, highlighted by 13 strikeouts, but the Wolverine hurler allowed six hits -- two home runs -- and a walk.
Senior shortstop Molly Bausher (Las Vegas, Nev./Spring Valley HS) went 3-for-5 with a walk and two runs batted in to headline the Wolverines' offensive output in the doubleheader. Senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) registered a pair of hits in game two, while sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) knocked out a three-run homer that gave U-M an insurmountable lead in the nightcap.
Both teams loaded the bases in the first inning of game two, with the Wolverines the only team to convert thanks to a St. Clair RBI double. Findlay initiated the Wolverines' surge with one out, glancing an infield single off the third baseman to shortstop Alicia Herron, who sailed an errant throw to first base, allowing Findlay to advance to second. After senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) accepted a four-pitch walk, St. Clair sailed a deep ball off the rightfield wall to provide U-M the early lead.
After ending its run of 16 straight games with a home run in game one, the Wolverines started a new streak in game two as Chidester went deep for three runs to pad U-M's lead to 4-0. St. Clair led off the inning with a single down the leftfield line before junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) put two runners in scoring position with a line-drive double off the centerfield wall. Chidester secured the Wolverines' third straight hit, connecting with the 2-1 pitch and depositing it into the parking lot beyond the leftfield fence.
Ohio State used three hits and a walk to manufacture three runs in the fourth and pull within one of the Wolverines. With first baseman Rebecca Schultz aboard after a single down the leftfield line, designated player Leah Ledford drilled a double to the centerfield wall. Bausher's relay throw to home plate reached simultaneously; Schultz missed the base, but St. Clair could not extend to reach her in time.
Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS), game two's starter, rung up back-to-back Buckeye batters before shortstop Alicia Herron sliced a first-pitch blooper down the rightfield line. The ball hit the chalk and rolled deep into the corner, allowing Herron a two-run triple for her effort. The hit and a subsequent intentional walk brought Taylor into the game. The Wolverine junior issued a four-pitch strikeout to end the inning, and after allowing a leadoff walk in the subsequent inning, struck out the side on just 12 pitches.
Taylor removed herself from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth, issuing a strikeout to end the inning, before going 1-2-3 in the seventh on a first-pitch flyout, strikeout and groundout to the circle.
It was the Buckeyes that struck first in game one as U-M sacrificed the initial lead for just the 10th time this season on OSU rightfielder Courtney Pruner's three-run homer in the first inning. Herron singled through the left side to kick off the offensive surge with one out, and catcher Sam Marder joined her on base with a full-count walk -- after strike three was erased by an illegal-pitch call. Pruner connected with the first pitch of the next at-bat and drove it deep over the centerfield fence, recording the first homer allowed by Taylor in six games.
Michigan used small ball to manufacture a run in the third and chip away at the Buckeye advantage. With freshman pinch runner Jaclyn Crummey (Macomb, Mich./Dakota HS) on after a Nemitz walk, Bausher chopped a single over Schultz's head at first base to advance her teammate to third. Sophomore centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) then took advantage with a fly ball to deep centerfield, allowing Crummey to tag up and trot home.
Ohio State went with the long ball again to pad its lead with a two-run fourth inning. Taylor struck out the side but allowed hits between each strikeout; the second was a two-run shot by Schultz, who found the 3-1 pitch and lined it over the leftfield fence.
Bausher drove in two runs in the seventh on her second hit of the contest, following a walk and a Buckeye error with a two-out, two-strike double that sailed over the leftfielder's head. The Wolverines could not continue the rally as Evans struck out in the next at-bat to end game one.
The Wolverines return home this weekend, hosting Kentucky for a two-game non-conference series at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. U-M will face the Wildcats at 7 p.m. on Friday (April 30) and 4 p.m. on Saturday (May 1). In honor of Derby Day, all fans that wear oversized hats to Saturday's game will receive $3 admission. Tickets may be purchased online in advance or at the event.
With today's doubleheader split, Michigan improves to 73-20 in the all-time series against Ohio State. The Buckeyes' win in game one was their first against Michigan since 2003, snapping U-M's 10-game series win streak.
The game-one defeat capped Michigan's season win streak at 16 straight games. The streak was the longest since U-M won 21 straight through the heart of the 2009 Big Ten schedule. The Wolverines have now won 30 of their last 32 games.
Six different Wolverine hitters boast six or more home runs on the season.
With 19 strikeouts in the doubleheader, junior RHP Jordan Taylor upped her career strikeout total to 809 and took over the third position on Michigan's career strikeout leaders list.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On bouncing back in the second game ... "We did hold up in the second game; we really persevered to win that. Hopefully we learned that we will have some tough games, and we're going to drop some games too. We're not going to be perfect. The key is bouncing back and staying together. It was a test for us; we haven't been tested like that, and I think it was good for us."
On the Wolverines' low hit count ... "I was a little disappointed in our at-bats. We certainly had some good ones, and in that first game, we were on her. But then I thought we started pressing; we were trying too hard -- swung at a lot of bad pitches, took called thirds. That's when you're thinking, and you're not playing. They're a good team, and we knew that we'd have to out score them and that they would score some runs."
On the game-two performance of junior RHP Jordan Taylor ... "Jordan did a great job in that sixth inning, getting out of it and not getting down, then she came back in the seventh and commanded them. But nobody on this team can do it themselves. Jordan needs her defense, Jordan needs her offense, and our offense needs Jordan. If anything, this was a good reminder that we need each other. It's not a one-person show. We need everybody to do their part."
U-M Senior Shortstop Molly Bausher
On rebounding in the nightcap ... "I think the beginning of the season prepared us well for that. We dropped some games to ranked -- and some unranked -- teams and came back and won the next one against another tough team. So, I think that preparation helped us take the loss tonight and come back fighting in the second game."
On the Wolverines' hitting struggles ... "It's pretty rare for our team to not get on base, but that's what you saw today. It sets you back, but it makes you push that much harder. Like Hutch said, it's a battle when you come to Buckeye land. They're the No. 2 team in the conference, so we knew it was going to be a big battle. I think that gave us a little more determination to stay focused in the box to look for a good pitch."
U-M Junior First Baseman Dorian Shaw
On the doubleheader split ... "I think we held up alright. Hutch said -- and I echo it -- that it's good to come out of here with a split, because this was a good team. They're No. 2 in the Big Ten, and that was definitely something we knew coming into tonight. I think that, at this time, this is really good for us. Having the weeks go as they did, we might have gotten a little bit complacent, thinking we'll score 15 runs here and eight runs there. You can't go into the NCAA Tournament thinking that, because somebody is going to smack you right in the face with that kind of mentality. We're not invincible. We do have to keep going and keep working hard."
On battling through adversity at the plate ... "It's definitely hard, and it's definitely hard to not get frustrated. But you have to understand that we're hitting the ball hard, and they're going to fall. You just have to keep that mentality, because that's just how it goes sometimes. Everything isn't going to go your way every day, and we've been blessed to have things going our way over the last few weeks. We were bound to face somebody that was going to give it to us."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423