May 1, 2010
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Score: #2 Michigan 8, Kentucky 4
Records: U-M (40-6), Kentucky (29-23)
Next U-M Event: Tuesday, May 4 -- vs. Western Michigan (Wilpon Softball Complex), 6 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Following a similar script as yesterday's series opener, the No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team used a big sixth-inning rally to battle past Kentucky, 8-4, on Saturday afternoon (May 1) in front of 1,606 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.
Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS), who paced U-M's offense with a 3-for-4 effort the plate, keyed the Wolverines' surge in the sixth, evening the score with a first-pitch leadoff home run to the top row of the grandstand beyond right-centerfield. Junior designated player Marley Powers (Owosso, Mich./Owosso HS) followed with a deep ball to leftfield, banking it off the top of the wall for a double, and after advancing on a groundout, took advantage of a Wildcat mental mistake to score the go-ahead run. Senior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./East HS) dribbled an infield grounder to the right of the circle, and both the first and second baseman rushed the ball, leaving first base unattended and allowing both runners to reach safely.
Senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) kept the rally going with a run-scoring single up the middle before Kentucky loaded the bases for sophomore Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS), who ripped two-run double down the leftfield line to wrap up the game's scoring.
The Wolverines broke through to initiate scoring in the third inning, manufacturing a tally on a pair of hits and a Kentucky fielding error. Sophomore centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) led off the frame with a chop single up the middle and after advancing on a sacrifice and mishandled fly ball, came around to score when St. Clair smacked an RBI single through the right side.
The two teams traded the lead four times over the next three innings. Kentucky used a pair of RBI doubles to claim its first advantage in the top of the fourth, hugging one down the rightfield line before sailing another over the head of senior leftfielder Kristin Larsen (Orion, Mich./Lake Orion HS). However, the Wolverines responded in the home half as Powers followed Nemitz's leadoff single up the middle with her first long ball of the season, connecting with the 1-1 pitch and launching it over the rightfield fence.
Wildcat first baseman Samantha DeMartine singled to centerfield to drive home two runs in the fifth -- one unearned after a U-M fielding error -- and provide her team the temporary lead. It was Kentucky's final advantage of the contest.
For all her offensive heroics, Nemitz also earned the victory from the circle, her first in three starts, with a five-strikeout, 10-hit complete-game effort. The decision improved Nemitz's season record to 16-3.
The Wolverines will continue non-conference action on Tuesday (April 4), hosting intrastate rival Western Michigan in a 6 p.m. game at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.
N O T E S
U-M is 8-2 against SEC teams this season.
Today's combined hit total of 22 matched the second most in a Michigan game this season. U-M combined with UNLV to tally 23 hits at the Judi Garman Classic on March 19 and combined with Alabama for 22 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic on Feb. 27.
Junior designated player Marley Powers' two-run blast was her first homer of the season and sixth of her career. Powers boasted four home runs and 21 RBI as a freshman (2008).
Senior RHP Nikki Nemitz's three hits matched a season and career high. She has tallied three hits in five games over her career, most recently against host Louisville at this season's Red and Black Tournament on March 13.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On winning the last few highly contested games ... "I don't think we've been playing with our best energy in the last three games, but we've still been able to come out on top. We need to start feeling good again. We need to start working hard to win these upcoming games and work hard to help Michigan win. Our mission is to help Michigan win. Some days you don't do it physically, with your bat or your glove, but we ask everyone to find a way to contribute. That's what our coaching staff asks of them."
On the team playing flat recently ... "I think it was definitely a tough week to go down to Purdue, then turn around and head back to Ohio State and be involved in two very emotional games. You know, it was an emotional game last night too. I came back and told them today, that's why you don't want to get too high after a win or too low after a loss. You don't want to be on an emotional rollercoaster. I thought both teams seemed a little flat early in the game, but we had to work and grind through it. Some days you have to grind and that's what we've been doing. At least we got the outcome we wanted."
On starting Marley Powers ... "Well we took a look at the possibility of it, and she's someone that hits in a pinch-hit role a lot where you might not always have a good at-bat. We wanted her to get her more than one at-bat and you can do that with Nikki [Nemitz] pitching because she's in the batting lineup. I thought Marley did a great job and was very timely for us. We'll see what we do about her moving forward. We're still waiting to see what happens with Kirkpatrick, but I'm sure that Marley will see more time in the lineup."
On Marley lifting the team with her performance ... "I think that sometimes when you put in some kids, like when we started playing Kristin Larsen and the same goes for Marley, kids that don't get a lot of playing time, the team will root for them. Those types of players work just as hard as everyone else and I think it lifts the team up a little bit, especially when they do well. Certainly when they hit it over the fence for us, we like that too."
On the difference between the team's hitting successes from Friday to Saturday ... "I thought we played pretty similarly. Early in the game yesterday they had a down-ball pitcher and when she'd get ahead of us, we'd go looking for that pitch even when it wasn't a strike. We gave away some of our at-bats. You've got to make the pitcher put it in the zone and be patient enough as a hitter. A lot of times kids will press or try too hard because they haven't had a hit in a day or two and they want one so bad. That's not what we're trying to do. That's not good softball. We've cooled off some at the plate, which is okay. We were bound too, but we still ground out eight runs and we still got five runs yesterday. It could get into the team's head, but that will not be acceptable. "
U-M Junior Designated Player Marley Powers
On hitting her first home run of the season ... "It felt good. I haven't had a great hit in a while and have had a tough time being successful at the plate, but I went up there and took a good cut at it. It felt good coming off the bat"
On the team scoring runs earlier in the game ... "We were still a little bit flat out there. I feel like we could have been more enthusiastic, but we battled and stuck together to do what we needed to do.We need to keep fighting. We need to know that everyone has each other's back. If one person isn't hitting, know that someone else will pick them up."
On playing in back-and-forth games ... "You have to fight regardless of the score, like Hutch says, stay within yourself. The scoreboard will tell us who won or lost at the end of the game. You have to just play Michigan softball. We can't worry about being down or cruise when we're ahead. You need to work, you need to fight; no matter what, you have to keep pushing. We did a good job today."
U-M Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz
On playing against an SEC team ... "I think we've played just about the whole SEC conference by now. I heard we're joining their league next year -- just joking. It's been fun. We knew they'd be a good team and we like playing against good competition. To have them come up here and play in front of our fans was awesome, like I said, because we look forward to good competition."
On her home run in the sixth inning ... "I was sitting on the first pitch. I'm a pitcher, so when I'm batting I think like a pitcher. I knew she was throwing that curve ball to me inside on either the first or second pitch. It came on the first one. I was waiting for it."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423