May 16, 2017
» Michigan will make its 23rd straight -- and 25th overall -- NCAA Tournament appearance, opening NCAA Regional play against Fresno State at 6 p.m. PDT on Friday (May 19) at Husky Softball Stadium in Seattle, Washington.
» It is just the fifth time in program history that Michigan will play an NCAA Regional round on the road.
» The Wolverines will look to bounce back after an early quarterfinal exit from the Big Ten Tournament last weekend; the upset loss to MSU halted a nine-game win streak that saw U-M average 9.8 runs per game.
The No. 20-ranked University of Michigan softball team (41-10-1) will head to Seattle, Washington, to kick off NCAA Tournament play this weekend (Fri-Sun., May 19-21) at the University of Washington's Husky Softball Stadium. The Wolverines will open play against Fresno State at 6 p.m. PDT on Friday, live on ESPN2.
Michigan is making its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance (1992-93, '95-2017) and has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament every season since 1995. It just the fifth time in program history that U-M will play a regional round on the road. The Wolverines are 79-13 all-time in the NCAA Regional round and have won 18 regional titles. Last season, U-M swept through its regional and super regional opposition en route to its 12th WCWS appearance.
The winner of the Seattle Regional will move on to a super regional against the winner of the regional being hosted by Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. That regional consists of No. 11 overall seed Utah, BYU, Mississippi State and Fordham.
The Wolverines will look to bounce back after suffering an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament, where they could not hang on to a two-run seventh-inning lead in a 5-4 loss to in-state rival Michigan State. Michigan owns an 8-2 record after losses this season and has not lost more than two games in a row.
Since seeing a significant lineup shakeup -- the temporary benching of five regular starters -- in the second game of the Wisconsin series, the Wolverines have since averaged 9.2 runs per game over the last 10 games. U-M had averaged 2.57 runs in the preceding seven contests.
Michigan is batting .406 over its last 10 games and knocked out 23 home runs over the stretch -- an average of 2.3 homers per game. Seven Wolverines boast averages of .400 or better, most notably sophomore Faith Canfield and Natalie Peters, who are hitting .576 and .476, respectively, over the stretch. Canfield, junior Aidan Falk, senior Kelly Christner, junior Tera Blanco and sophomore Katie Alexander have all posted three homers over the last 10 games.
Senior centerfielder Kelly Christner leads the Wolverines with a career-best .414 batting average -- a 101-point improvement on her 2016 average and a 21-point improvement on her 2015 average. Her .363 career batting average currently ranks fourth all time in Michigan program history, while her .627 slugging percentage lists fifth.
Sophomore second baseman Faith Canfield has enjoyed a breakout season in her first year in the everyday Wolverine starting lineup, currently ranking second on the team with a .394 batting average and boasting 17 doubles, eight homers and 39 RBI. She ranked second in the Big Ten with a .462 league average en route to All-Big Ten first team honors.
Junior Tera Blanco, a 2015 First Team All-American, has seen a significant second-half improvement at the plate. After hitting just .200 over the first 26 games of the season, she has batted .361 over the second half -- and .391 over the last 10 games. Blanco, who leads the Wolverines with 43 RBI on the year, batted .407 in conference play to earn All-Big Ten first team honors as a utility player.
The Wolverines currently rank second in the nation with a .982 fielding percentage, trailing only Florida (.986). Five Michigan starters boast fielding percentages of .980 or better, perhaps most notably sophomore second baseman Faith Canfield, who has just two errors in 134 touches for a stellar .985 fielding percentage.
Senior RHP Megan Betsa currently leads the nation with 376 strikeouts on the season and ranks third nationally with 12.3 strikeouts per seven innings. She boasts 19 double-digit strikeout performances this season, including 12 of her last 19 starts. She became the first Wolverine player in program history to record three straight 300-strikeout seasons and the third to surpass 1,000 career strikeouts. Standing now at 1,165; she is 40 shy of second place on the all-time leaders list, currently held by Jennie Ritter (1,205, 2003-06), and Betsa is 61 behind record holder Jordan Taylor (1,220, 2008-11).
Betsa ranks top 10 nationally in shutouts (11, ranks 5th nationally), saves (5, 8th nationally) and hits allowed per seven innings (3.60, 10th nationally).
Betsa also reached 100 career wins with her victory in the Rutgers series finale, becoming just the fourth Wolverine player to achieve the milestone. She is tied with two-time All-America Haylie Wagner (2012-15) for third place among U-M's all-time leaders, six wins shy of Sara Griffin (106, 1995-98) in second place. Jordan Taylor (2008-11) holds the program's wins record with 107.
In her first season in the Wolverines' regular rotation, Blanco owns career bests in all pitching categories, with an 18-3 record, 1.86 ERA, four complete-game shutouts and 93 strikeouts.
Head coach Carol Hutchins claimed her 1,500th career win in the Wolverines' 11-3, six-inning decision against Kent State (March 19). Already the winningest coach in NCAA softball history, Hutchins is now 1,525-488-5 in her 34 seasons as a collegiate coach.
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