May 23, 2010
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Event: NCAA Regional
Score: #2 Michigan 12, #25 Notre Dame 2
Records: U-M (49-6), Notre Dame (47-12)
Next U-M Event: Thursday, May 27 -- vs. #15 Tennessee in NCAA Super Regional (Wilpon Softball Complex), 7:30 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team knocked out three home runs, including two by senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS), to cruise past No. 25 Notre Dame, clinching its seventh consecutive NCAA Regional title with a 12-2 decision on Sunday afternoon (May 23) in front of 2,267 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.
In a rematch of the 2006 event, the Wolverines (49-6) will host Tennessee, the winner of the Region 15 championship series, in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional on Thursday and Friday, May 27-28. The teams will play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 4:30 p.m. Friday, with the third game to follow Friday if necessary. Thursday's game will be broadcast live on ESPN, while Friday games will air on ESPNU.
Viefhaus paced the U-M offense with her second career multi-homer effort, combining for four runs batted in. Senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) also went deep for the Wolverines -- in the seventh inning -- as part of a 3-for-4, four-RBI day from the plate. Sophomore leftfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) and sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) recorded two hits apiece.
Junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) earned her second weekend win over the Fighting Irish, improving to 26-3 on the season with a seven-hit, two-run performance from the pitching circle. Taylor fanned 11 Notre Dame batters -- her 16th double-digit strikeout tally of the year -- and closed out the game with five scoreless innings.
The two teams traded a pair of two-out solo home runs in the first inning. Viefhaus tallied Michigan's blast, connecting with the 2-0 pitch and crushing it into the rightfield grandstand before Irish third baseman Heather Johnson responded in the bottom half, sending a first-pitch bomb high into the trees beyond left-centerfield.
Notre Dame claimed a temporary advantage, manufacturing a run off three hits in the second, before the Wolverines exploded for 11 runs over the final five frames, including three apiece in the third, fourth and seventh. After going deep for one run in the first inning, Viefhaus knocked out a three-run shot in her next at-bat in the third, driving the 2-2 pitch -- a changeup -- to a familiar spot in the bleachers beyond rightfield. It was Viefhaus' third long ball of the weekend and 20th of the season.
The Wolverines added three more runs off three hits and a pair of walks in the fourth inning. After back-to-back infield singles from senior centerfielder Molly Bausher (Las Vegas, Nev./Spring Valley HS) and Evans led off the inning and put two aboard, Michigan accepted consecutive walks -- on just 10 pitches -- to push across a run. With the bases still loaded for Chidester in the next at-bat, the Wolverine second baseman took the 2-2 pitch and lofted a two-run single into shallow centerfield.
U-M took advantage of a couple free passes to score runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Bausher took a four-pitch walk, stole second and came home on an RBI single by senior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./East) to shallow leftfield in the former frame, while junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./J.W. Robinson), who reached via her fifth hit-by-pitch in five games, raced home from third on a run-scoring groundout by sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield, Ill./Central) in the latter.
The Wolverines used St. Clair's long ball to wrap up scoring in the seventh inning. Evans led off the frame with an infield single and after a Viefhaus walk -- her third in a row following her two homers -- St. Clair lined the 1-1 pitch out of the park down the rightfield line.
Tickets for the NCAA Super Regional will go on sale through the U-M Athletic Ticket Office at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday (May 25) for season ticket holders and at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday (May 26) for the general public. Admission for each day of the event is $10 for reserved grandstand chairback seating, $9 for reserved grandstand bleacher seats, $7 for outfield bleachers and $5 for students and seniors. All tickets must be picked up in person. Ticket will call on game days will be located near the Wilpon Complex scoreboard at the entrance gate near the U-M Indoor Track Building.
N O T E S
With their perfect 3-0 performance over the weekend competition, the Wolverines claimed their 14th NCAA Regional title in program history and their seventh in a row. All but one of those regional crowns were won at Alumni Field.
Michigan has reached the NCAA Super Regionals each year since the format was adopted in 2005.
With its victory in the NCAA Regional championship game, Michigan improved to 13-4 in the all-time series against Notre Dame. U-M has won nine in a row against the Irish; the last five came in NCAA Regional competition.
Michigan outscored its NCAA Regional opposition 31-4.
Three Wolverine hitters batted .500 or better in this weekend's NCAA Regional action. Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus hit .625 (5-for-8) with seven runs batted in, while sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester batted .600 (3-for-5) and senior catcher Roya St. Clair hit .500 (5-for-10) with six RBI from the cleanup spot.
Shaking off its two-game home drought at Iowa, the Wolverines knocked out seven long balls in NCAA Regional play. Michigan has homered in 26 of its last 29 games and boast 81 homers on the season -- the second-greatest season total in program history.
Senior centerfielder Molly Bausher went 3-for-3 on stolen-base attempts in regional play, including two today against Notre Dame. She upped her season total to a career-best eight stolen bases. Viefhaus leads the Wolverines with 12 stolen bases on the season.
With her 11-strikeout performance against the Irish, junior RHP Jordan Taylor upped her season total to a career-best 300. The figure ranks sixth among Michigan's all-time single-season leaders in the category.
Viefhaus and junior first baseman Dorian Shaw both sit at 20 home runs on the season -- just one shy of Michigan's single-season record in the category. Samantha Findlay (2005-08) and Jessica Merchant (2002-05) share the record; both tallied 21 homers in 2005, while Findlay repeated the feat as a senior in 2008.
With four runs batted in against Notre Dame, Viefhaus upped season total to 60 and moved to fifth on Michigan's single-season RBI leaderboard. Shaw sits right behind her with 59 RBI. Samantha Findlay holds Michigan's single-season RBI record with 77.
Viefhaus also sits fifth among Michigan's career RBI leaders with 160. She needs just four more to reach the fourth spot, currently held by Stefanie Volpe (164, 1999-2002).
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
Opening statement ... "You have to congratulate Notre Dame. They had an outstanding season. They had a tough ending, but I think [head coach] Deanna Gumpf is one of the classiest coaches in our business. It's tough to face competitors that you really respect, but when it's on the field, it's all about the game and, in my opinion, it's all about Michigan. I do want to congratulate them on their year.
"I think it's a great credit to all the kids on the team. They've continued to stay consistent, which is probably one of the most important aspects of any team. Today's game was a little tight early, and I expected that it would be, because after yesterday's mercy rule I knew all the parents, fans and people that I can't quite control would tell them that it'd be no problem. You have to give a good team credit and know that they're going to show up to play, and I thought Notre Dame showed up today and gave us all they had.
"This is our seniors fourth trip to the super regional, and for as easy as some of our kids have made it look over the years, it's not a given. It's really hard to win, and it's getting harder every year. There's a lot of parity in our sport. Whether we're peaking right now or not, we're just staying consistent. We certainly have a great opportunity in front of us, but we'll have a very tough opponent next weekend. So, I'm thankful to be at home, but again there's no givens here. So, we're going to need to stay tough and grind it out to get a chance to go to Oklahoma City."
On senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus ... "Maggie has been dialed in all year. It's not really about the pitcher. She has done a great job in her career of hunting her pitch -- pitches she can drive. She's locked in and has been all year. She waited for something over the plate. She's a great hitter because she has a great swing, but most importantly because she has a great approach."
On the team's ability to stay focused ... "If you hear our kids talk, they stick to their mantra. We talk about one-pitch softball; the game is one pitch. If you can get your team to play one pitch at a time -- and there have moments this year where I don't think we were in our one-pitch moment, but they've been few. They can only focus on the next pitch. Regardless of what happens with it, it's gone. You're about the super regional, you're about the game, the moment. We harp on that, and we drill it. I think our kids are doing a good job."
On battling back from the early deficit ... "I have a lot of confidence that we can score runs and a lot of confidence in our group. Keeping them confident is really the only thing that matters."
U-M Senior Third Baseman Maggie Viefhaus
On facing Notre Dame ace Jody Valdivia for the second time this weekend ... "I was making her throw me a pitch that I can hit rather than going after what she wanted me to hit. I didn't try to chase her pitches; I just hit mine. On one of them, I had two strikes, so I had to hit whatever she put over the plate. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit."
U-M Sophomore Second Baseman Amanda Chidester
On laying down a couple bunts today ... "We always work on bunts in practice; sometimes we have little competitions with it. It's important, but we haven't really needed to use it much this season. But with all of our practicing, we're able to pull it out when we do need it."
On falling behind early ... "We know that we need to take it one pitch at a time. When we got down today, it was still early in the game, and we all had a few more at-bats to go. We all go up there with confidence, and we know we're going to come through."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423