April 30, 2010
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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Score: #2 Michigan 5, Kentucky 4
Records: U-M (39-6), Kentucky (29-22)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, May 1 -- vs. Kentucky (Wilpon Softball Complex), 4 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich -- The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team used a five-run sixth inning to rally past Kentucky, 5-4, on Friday evening (April 30) in front of 1,507 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. The victory extended the Wolverines' home winning streak to 29 straight games.
After only registering one hit in the previous five innings, Michigan exploded for four hits -- three for extra bases -- in the sixth frame to steal away the lead for good. Sophomore centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) tripled to wall in right centerfield to kick off the rally from the leadoff spot. The relay throw reached third base simultaneously but got past Kentucky third baseman Brittany Cervantes, who held down Evans to prevent her from advancing, prompting the umpire to award Evans the base on an obstruction call. Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) doubled down the rightfield line to keep the momentum going before senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) got a hold of the 1-0 pitch in the next at-bat and knocked it high over the leftfield fence to pull U-M within one on the scoreboard.
With the bases clear, the Wolverines earned a pair of free passes -- on a full-count walk to junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) and an inside pitch that hit sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester's (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) arm -- and senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) made the Wildcats pay, shaking off a pair of strikeouts in her previous turns to drive a two-run double to the wall in right centerfield to provide Michigan its first lead of the contest.
Nemitz entered to pitch in the top of the seventh and after hitting the first batter to put the tying run on, forced a fielder's choice -- in which U-M got the lead runner on a bunt attempt -- and rung up back-to-back Wildcat batters to earn her first save of the season.
Junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) earned the victory, improving to 22-3 on the season, with a 10-strikeout, seven-hit performance through six innings from the circle.
Kentucky set the pace for the bulk of the game, manufacturing the game's first run on two hits and an RBI groundout in the third. Wildcat designated player Kara Dill initiated the surge from the bottom of the order, beating out an infield single to the right of the pitching circle before advancing on a stolen base and subsequent base hit. Second baseman Natalie Smith took advantage of the runner in scoring position, knocking a grounder to senior shortstop Molly Bausher (Las Vegas, Nev./Spring Valley HS), who made the throw to first after finding Dill more than halfway to home.
After back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, featuring four Taylor strikeouts, the Wildcat offense came to life again in the sixth, using four hits to push three across. Third baseman Brittany Cervantes contributed to all three, smacking a two-run double off the rightfield wall before racing home when centerfielder Meagan Aull singled to shallow leftfield in the next at-bat.
The Wolverines will wrap up their non-conference series against Kentucky tomorrow (Saturday, May 1), hosting the Wildcats in a 4 p.m. slate at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.
N O T E S
Today's meeting was the first ever between Michigan and Kentucky. The Wolverines have now played every team from the Southeastern Conference. U-M is 7-2 against SEC teams this season.
The comeback win was Michigan's second this season when trailing after the fifth inning. The Wolverines also came back to beat Alabama earlier in the season on March 5, scoring four in the final two innings -- three in the seventh -- to win 5-2.
Senior catcher Roya St. Clair's two-run shot in the sixth inning upped her homer count to seven on the season. Six different Wolverine hitters own six or more home runs on the season.
Junior RHP Jordan Taylor owns 13 double-digit strikeout performances on the season.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On the game and Michigan's rally ... "Kentucky is a quality opponent. Obviously we don't know this going into the scheduling, but we've had a lot of five-inning games. That's not what the postseason is going to look like. Over the last couple games -- Ohio State and Kentucky -- we look like we expect it to be easy. We need to get over the hype, the media and how good we are, because you're only as good as how hard you work in the moment. We've gotten a little out of our moment, and I felt like we got back in our moment, obviously, in that sixth inning. We had some great at-bats. Dorian's [Shaw] at-bat was outstanding; she worked that pitcher. They were pitching to her, because the worst-case scenario at that point was we could tie up the game. We just needed to get a runner on base. I was just really pleased with her at-bat; that was huge. Our process hasn't been as good. But we ended up with the result, so we're fortunate.
"Before the sixth inning, we'd just given up three runs. I told them that it didn't matter if they scored 100 runs, we didn't have any. We needed good at-bats. I got on them, sharply, and told them they needed to have better one-pitch focus. We needed to make her put the ball over the plate, and it was clear to me once we got to Roya [St. Clair] that they were putting the ball over the plate. She was going after us. Roya's cut was big. Maggie's [Viefhaus] cut was big. I thought we took advantage of her putting it over the plate, because her goal was just to get us out."
On Bree Evans' leadoff hit in the sixth ... "That was huge. I was a little hesitant to bring her to third even though I thought she had a good shot at it, because you don't want to make an out at third base. That ruins your inning. Then I was sending her home, but they were holding her down -- so clearly -- but she got up and went. By then she was dead out. So, I was all over the umpire, but he said he saw the obstruction. That was the right call."
U-M Senior Catcher Roya St. Clair
On shaking off a slow start ... "We made solid contact early on in the game, and I think we were getting discouraged; we didn't get some base hits. But throughout a game, you've got to keep plugging. The top of our lineup came out and did their job; they hit the ball hard. Hitting is contagious, and I think everyone caught on and did their part."
On her home run ... "Bree came up, hits a shot and comes home on hit. Maggie hit a double. We were hitting her hard, and obviously a pitcher knows that. She's not going to want to put you on base. I'd gotten jammed twice, so I choked up on the bat a little bit, was looking for the inside pitch, and I got a hold of it. Coming around the bases, I usually don't show too much emotion, and in a tight game like that at home, it's hard to keep everything in. You want to get your team pumped up and make them believe that you can beat this team."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423