U-M Jumps on Pitt Early, Captures Fourth Straight Regional Title

May 17, 2015

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Regional Central | NCAA Bracket

Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Complex)
Event: NCAA Regional (Day 3 of 3)
Score: #3 Michigan 10, Pittsburgh 3
Records: U-M (54-6), Pitt (37-22)
Next U-M Event: Thursday, May 21 -- vs. Georgia - NCAA Super Regional Game 1 (Wilpon Complex), 9 p.m.

• Kornacki Postgame Feature: Lawrence, Susalla Provide Biggest Hits in Regional Win

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan softball team posted several big innings, including a five-run first inning, to clinch its fourth straight NCAA Regional crown with a 10-3 decision over Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon (May 17) in front of 2,144 fans at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field.

The Wolverines (54-6) will host Georgia, the winner of the Athens Regional, in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional next weekend at Alumni Field. Play begins Thursday night (May 21, 9 p.m.) on ESPN2, with game two and an if-necessary game three scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPNU and 9 p.m. on ESPN, respectively.

Michigan exploded for 12 hits as eight different Wolverine players tallied at least one base knock, including three with multiple hits. Freshman designated player Aidan Falk posted her second straight three-hit game with a double and a run batted in. Junior centerfielder Sierra Lawrence registered a pair of doubles with three RBI, while junior rightfielder Kelsey Susalla drove in three runs on a first-inning home run. Junior second baseman Sierra Romero extended her hit streak to seven games with a 2-for-3 effort.

Sophomore RHP Megan Betsa (29-4) earned the victory in relief, entering with one out and a runner on in the third and retiring the final 16 Panther batters. She struck out three and allowed just three hits and no walks through 4.2 innings.

As the designated visiting team, the Wolverines took the first turn at the plate and promptly batted through their order, plating five runs on four hits, a hit-by-pitch and a walk in the top of the first. Lawrence led off the game with a double down the rightfield line before advancing to third and scoring on a pair of illegal pitches. Susalla made Pitt pay for its miscues, breaking the game open with a three-run, line-drive shot that cleared a foot over the rightfield wall -- her 13th blast of the season. After a single and a sac bunt moved another base runner into scoring position, Falk drove an RBI double down the leftfield line.

The Panthers put runners on base in the first and second frames, leaving two stranded in scoring position in the former. They led off the latter with a single up the middle, before U-M executed a strike 'em out, throw 'em out to clear the bases and ended the inning on a groundout two pitches later.

Michigan extended its lead with three runs -- all with two outs -- in the top of the third. Falk kicked off the rally with a two-strike single up the middle, and after a four-pitch walk and infield single to load the bases, Lawrence cranked a three-run double into the left-centerfield gap.

Pittsburgh responded with three runs of its own in the home half of the inning to chase senior LHP Haylie Wagner from the game. The Panthers led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and bunt single, and after both base runners advanced on a sac bunt, designated player Jenna Modic roped a two-run single into centerfield. Pitt added another on centerfielder Carly Thea's RBI single after the pitching before a flyout ended the inning with no more damage.

Romero reignited the Wolverine offense with two outs in the top of the fifth. After a leadoff walk, freshman pinch runner Nikki Wald advanced on a sac bunt and groundout and scored when Romero smacked a full-count triple hard off the rightfield wall. She crossed the plate herself on sophomore leftfielder Kelly Christner's RBI single into leftfield in the next at-bat.

Betsa set down the Panthers in order in the fourth and fifth, before a base runner reached with a one-out single to rightfield in the sixth. She got out of the inning unscathed before going 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, striking out the final two Pitt batters, including a game-ending punchout.

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