Oct. 11, 2013
The University of Michigan softball team recently wrapped up its fall scrimmage schedule, posting a 7-0 record, and will soon conclude its fall practices. The softball team is coming off a berth in the Women's College World Series and its sixth consecutive Big Ten title, a conference record. Head coach Carol Hutchins added four freshmen to the roster to replace the four seniors who graduated from the 2013 team. MGoBlue.com spoke with Coach Hutchins and junior Haylie Wagner, a 2013 All-Big Ten second team selection, about the fall season. Check back Tuesday(Oct. 15) for a Q&A with senior Nicole Sappingfield and sophomore Sierra Romero, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year.
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
This has been an unusual fall -- with the construction going on at Alumni Field and the Donald R. Shepherd softball center, you don't have a field to practice on, a locker room to store your gear or any meeting places -- how has the team responded?
"I'm really impressed with this group, they've been so resilient. It has been a challenging fall, and I think they've moved forward and made the best of everything. They've worked really hard and we've worked them tough -- it's been a tough fall -- and that's by design. They've met the challenge for the most part, so I'm pleased for the most part."
Teams usually take on the character of the senior class -- how is the leadership developing?
"I've been most impressed with Colie Sappingfield, she has definitely taken the leadership by the horns and been our leader on and off the field. Unfortunately, both Caitlin (Blanchard) and Brandi (Virgil) have been injured, which has hindered them in that (leadership) respect. But I think this senior class is committed to making Team 37 special, and they understand that this team stands alone. I've liked the emergence of some of the underclassmen, certainly Sara (Driesenga) who is a junior now and Romo (Sierra Romero) -- she's in the middle of the infield and a player like her needs to lead, and she's working hard at it. We still have a long ways to go, but I like what the individuals are about."
What elements of the team are you excited for fans to see?
"I think you really like the addition of Megan Betsa. Having the ability to have Sara, Haylie (Wagner) and now Megan on the mound gives us a lot of options. I'm really excited -- I think our pitching has definitely taken a step forward, and that really bodes well -- they all make each other better. It gives us a lot of opportunity to make moves if an opposing team is getting back in the game, we can just mix it up because they are all really different. So I like our pitching, and there's no strength you'd rather have than on the mound. And I've liked our offense all fall, and I don't think we've been real challenged throughout the scrimmage season. We're hitting it well and getting better in that category, so I like the combination of being offensive and defensive, and that defense starts on the mound."
U-M Junior LHP Haylie Wagner
What are your impressions of the team after a month together?
"Team 37 is going to be a really good team, we are very versatile. We always have a lot of energy, we're always ready to come out and get better and work harder every day."
You had a few health setbacks last year, how are you feeling now?
"I'm feeling really good, the body feels great, and everything feels great. I'm just ready to come out here and do whatever I can to help Michigan softball. Last year is in the past, all my years here are in the past. This is a brand-new year, and I'm ready for it."
What can fans expect to see once the season opens in a few months?
"The fans are going to expect to keep the tradition going and have another great team from Michigan softball. We have a team that can communicate and trust in our abilities. It's only been a month and a half, but the trust is already there."
Your junior year is here -- is that hard to believe?
"It's been really good, it's my junior year -- it goes by really fast. I'm just soaking it in day by day because before I know it, it'll be my senior year. So I'm looking forward to this year and seeing what it will bring."
Fall Scrimmage Results
|Saturday, Sept. 28||Central Michigan||W, 9-0*||Traverse City, Mich.|
|Western Michigan||W, 6-0*||Traverse City, Mich.|
|Oakland||W, 5-2*||Traverse City, Mich.|
|Sunday, Sept. 29||Western Michigan||W, 5-1||Traverse City, Mich.|
|Central Michigan||W, 4-1||Traverse City, Mich.|
|Thursday, Oct. 3||Eastern Michigan||W, 17-1||Ypsilanti, Mich.|
|Tuesday, Oct. 8||Eastern Michigan||W, 16-3||Ypsilanti, Mich.|
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Contact: Michael Kasiborski (734) 763-4423