May 28, 2010
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Event: NCAA Super Regional (Game Two)
Score: #15 Tennessee 4, #2 Michigan 3
Records: U-M (49-8), Tennessee (47-13)
Next U-M Event: Season Completed
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team saw its hopes of a return trip to the Women's College World Series come to an end Friday evening (May 28), dropping a 4-3 decision to No. 15 Tennessee in game two of the NCAA Super Regional in front of a record 2,479 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. The Lady Vols win the best-of-three series two games to none to advance to the WCWS.
Trailing 4-0 after four innings, Michigan finally broke through against the Lady Vols with a two-run homer by senior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./East HS) in the top of the fifth inning, ending U-M's 11-inning scoring drought in the super regional. Junior first baseman Dorian Shaw's (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) solo homer in the sixth drew the Wolverines within a run heading into the seventh inning.
Sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield, Ill./Central HS) drew a full-count walk to open the seventh, and after a strikeout, singles by senior centerfield Molly Bausher (Las Vegas, Nev./Spring Valley HS) and Findlay loaded the bases with one out and Michigan's No. 3 and 4 hitters due up. However, Tennessee pitcher Ivy Renfroe struck out senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) -- the Big Ten co-Player of the Year -- and retired senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) on a sharp line drive to the shortstop to deny Michigan and its stellar senior class a return trip to the WCWS.
The Volunteers used a series of free passes to claim the early advantage in the bottom of the first frame, stringing together a base hit, an intentional walk and a pair of hit-by-pitches. Second baseman Lauren Gibson earned the run batted in, taking the first pitch she faced off her arm to push home her team's first run. Volunteer catcher Tiffany Huff dropped a swinging bunt just inches in front of home plate in the next at-bat; with her foot on the plate, St. Clair reached to corral the ball before relaying the throw to first to force the double play and get U-M out the inning.
Tennessee used three solo homers to extend its lead, going back-to-back in the second inning before adding another in the fourth. Designated player Nicole Kajitani led off the former frame with a shot to the bottom rows of the rightfield bleachers. The blast induced a U-M pitching change, bringing junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) into the game, and first baseman Erinn Webb connected with her first pitch thrown and sailed it over the leftfield wall. Webb went deep again in her next turn at the plate, smacking a ball off the top of the wall in rightfield to pad her team's lead to four runs.
Bausher kicked off the two-out rally in the fifth with a five-pitch walk from the top of the order before Findlay connected with the 1-1 pitch and drove it deep over the left-centerfield wall for her 14th home run of the season.
Shaw found a familiar spot beyond the left-centerfield wall in the next inning, connecting with the 2-2 pitch and launching a line-drive solo blast into the standing-room crowd to pull the Wolverines within one run on the scoreboard. The homer was Shaw's 21st of the season, matching the Wolverine single-season record in the category.
Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) took the loss, falling to 21-4 on the season, after allowing two hits and a pair of runs through one inning. Taylor pitched the bulk of the game in relief, striking out six while allowing three hits and a walk through the final six frames.
N O T E S
With its loss tonight, Michigan fell to 3-5 in the all-time series against Tennessee.
Tennessee's NCAA Super Regional sweep marked U-M's first back-to-back losses of the 2010 season.
Junior first baseman Dorian Shaw became the third Wolverine hitter to register 21 home runs in a single season, joining Samantha Findlay (2005-08) and Jessica Merchant (2002-05). Findlay and Merchant both tallied 21 homers during Michigan's 2005 NCAA championship season, while Findlay repeated the feat as a senior.
Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus wrapped her collegiate tenure among Michigan's top-10 leaders in five career categories: runs (seventh, 170), doubles (seventh, 47), home runs (fourth, 42), runs-batted in (fifth, 160) and walks (third, 101).
Viefhaus never missed a start at third base during her collegiate career, appearing in 236 games over her four seasons.
Senior rightfielder Angela Findlay also finished her career ranking among Michigan's top-10 leaders in five categories: batting average (10th, .347), runs (sixth, 171), home runs (seventh, 26), runs-batted in (seventh, 141) and sacrifice hits (seventh, 40).
Findlay also established Michigan's single-season runs record with 69 this season.
Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz closed out her collegiate career listing among U-M's top-10 leaders in six pitching categories: wins (third, 92), winning percentage (fourth, .814), strikeouts (fourth, 842), shutouts (ninth, 27), innings pitched (sixth, 713.1) and saves (third, seven).
The Wolverines' senior class completed their collegiate career with a 194-41 record (.826 winning percentage) for their four-year tenure.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On the game ... "You have to really tip your hat to Tennessee. They came into our house and took it in two. I thought we really battled, but unfortunately it wasn't soon enough and it wasn't quite enough. They played with the poise of upperclassmen; I was really impressed with them. I thought both of their pitchers were outstanding. They hit their spots; that's all they did all day, and it was very effective. They found a way to get under our skin. Our kids challenged them in the fourth, and they started to rally back. I was proud of their effort in a very tough game. The dynamics of being behind in a game like this are more than anybody can know. We just fell short. A lot of the breaks didn't go our way at the end. You have to congratulate Tennessee; I wish them well. And you have to congratulate my team on a great season."
U-M Junior First Baseman Dorian Shaw
On Michigan breaking through in the fourth inning ... "I think you get to a certain point where what you're doing isn't working, and you have to try something new. We all tried to loosen up a bit; whatever was going to happen was going to happen. At that point, we weren't taking the game into our own hands. We were letting the umpire control it and Tennessee control it. Obviously, you can't control everything in softball, but what you can control is how you approach the game and how you approach your at-bats, your plays and your pitches. I think that's what we eventually figured out. We just needed to do what we'd done this whole year."
On falling just short of a WCWS bid ... "This is the best softball team that I've ever been a part of. For us to not achieve what our goal has been since we stepped on campus in September is heartbreaking. We knew the whole time what was on the line. That's just the way it goes. It hasn't set in that I won't be packing my bags for Oklahoma City this week, but when I go home, think about it and watch the rest of the games, it's going to hurt. But we can't do anything about that."
U-M Sophomore Second Baseman Amanda Chidester
On Michigan's seventh-inning attitude ... "It was just a point when we all needed to get up and be there for our teammates. I think everyone in the dugout did a great job of doing that. We kept it going as long as we could and we tried our hardest. We were all there for our teammates."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423