Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Alumni Field)
Score: #1 Michigan 2, Western Michigan 0; Michigan 5, Western Michigan 0
Records: U-M (50-4), WMU (20-23)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, May 7 -- vs. Northwestern (Alumni Field), 6:00 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 1-ranked University of Michigan softball team used a pair of shutouts this evening (Wednesday, May 4), highlighted by a 16-strikeout effort from ace Jennie Ritter (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS), to sweep Western Michigan 2-0 and 5-0 at Alumni Field. Stephanie Bercaw (Wooster, Ohio/Hillsdale HS) added a three-run home run in the nightcap as Michigan won for the 50th time this season in just 54 games. It is the quickest any Michigan team has ever reached the 50-win plateau.
Worthy's second career homer staked Michigan to a 1-0 lead in the nightcap.
Lorilyn Wilson (Salem, Ore./Sprague HS) actually started her first game since April 19 and responded with a three-hit, complete-game shutout in the 2-0 win in the opener. Her victory was her 20th of the season and the shutout her ninth.
Wilson's effort in game one came at an opportune time because the Wolverines bats were pretty silent vs. Bronco starter Tricia VanDerSlik. She gave up one hit in each of the first three innings but held Michigan scoreless until the fourth, when a WMU error allowed Michigan to load the bases with one out. Bercaw, who was the only Wolverine with two hits in the opener, delivered the first of four RBI on the evening with a bases-loading single through the left side. Michigan threatened to break it open, but Becky Marx (St. Joseph, Mich./Stevensville HS) grounded into a 1-2-3 double play and the lead was just one.
Michigan got some insurance in the fifth when Jessica Merchant (Wayland, Mich./Wayland HS) delivered a two-out RBI single on heels of Alessandra Giampaolo's (Pasadena, Calif./Polytechnic HS) triple. The best threat WMU could muster was putting two runners on with one out in the sixth, but a popup and strikeout from Wilson took care of business.
Michigan's bats stayed fairly silent in game two as well, with five Wolverines going down on strikes in the first two innings. Ritter matched the effort by retiring the first eight Broncos in order, including seven on strikes before a two-out single in the third broke the ice. Much of the Wolverines' fortunes changed with one swing in the third when Tiffany Worthy (Yorba Linda, Calif./Lutheran HS) smoked a leadoff home run deep over the fence in left-center. The Wolverines, however, would load the bases later in the third without any further damage and leave runners stranded on second and third in the fourth before putting the Broncos away in the fifth.
Nicole Motycka (Sarasota, Fla./Cardinal Mooney HS), who left the bases loaded in the third, followed Samantha Findlay's (Lockport, Ill./East HS) double with a run-scoring double of her own with two out in the fifth. Michigan then received a big break when WMU leftfielder Molly Mroczek failed a haul in Bercaw's foul fly with two out and one on. That crack was all Michigan needed to open the door and Bercaw delivered her three-run bomb.
Just as she had begun the game, Ritter struck out five of the last six, including the side in order in the seventh for her 25th win of the season.
Michigan's attention now turns to this weekend's showdown for Big Ten supremacy with a two-game set vs. Northwestern on Saturday (May 7, 6 p.m.) and Sunday (May 8, 1 p.m.) at Alumni Field. Michigan needs a series sweep to claim its 10th Big Ten regular-season title in 14 seasons.
N O T E S
Michigan's two shutouts this evening give the Michigan pitching staff four straight blankings. The Wolverines have matched the single-season school record of 27 set just last season.
Jennie Ritter became just the sixth Michigan pitcher to win 25 games in a season with her shutout in the nightcap.
Michigan now owns a 20-game unbeaten streak in its series vs. Western Michigan.
Jennie Ritter now has nine double-digit strikeout efforts this season. Her 16 strikeouts today better her 15-K effort vs. No. 15 Florida on March 5.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On the doubleheader overall ... "Western Michigan made it tough on us. It was not easy in either game tonight and their pitchers kept them in the game. (Krysten) Shumaker kept the ball inside on us and hit her spots, but I thought our focus was better as the game progressed. Focus is the key for this team and obviously everybody wants to talk about the Northwestern games this weekend, but we need to focus on what's in front of us."
On the hitters adjusting ... "When a pitcher is working the inside corner as well as Shumaker was you need to adjust and I thought a couple of our players did that. (Nicole) Motycka's second time up she hit a shot down the line after she made the necessary adjustment."
Contact: Rich Marion (734) 763-4423