Oct. 15, 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 senior Nicole Sappingfield and sophomore Sierra Romero, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, about the fall season.
U-M Senior Outfielder Nicole Sappingfield
Hutch complimented your leadership for this team, what has been your approach?
"I think that for the most part my mindset hasn't changed very much. For this team, all we need is someone to set an example and get it done; it's not so much leading from the top down. We want everybody to know they have the opportunity to lead this team; no one is better than another. All of the seniors -- all six of us -- work really well together and complement each other."
Hutch says Team 37 feels young -- do you share that sense?
"It definitely does seem younger, and I think that has to do with the infield being all underclassmen (with Caitlin Blanchard out), but I think that Romo has done a great job of stepping up and leading those younger girls. Everyone for the most part knows that we are really versatile and we can all work together. No matter who is playing at what position, we know we'll succeed, and we know we'll get through it. We've really embraced that atmosphere that anyone can play anywhere."
What have you seen during fall ball that gets you excited about Team 37?
"It's really fun to see how we react under pressure. We've done a really good job -- regardless of age -- everyone is so excited to play. We're so excited to get on the field. Especially because we've been at Huron (high school) all fall -- finally getting on the field and playing some games in competition, it gets you really excited. We've all really embraced that feeling. We have a really good work ethic, and we work really well together, and we're so optimistic about getting out there to play."
Logistically this has been a challenging fall without a field or a softball center, how is the team handling it?
"I think we've actually learned how to adjust. We always say 'champions adjust,' and it really makes you learn to not settle with what you're doing. No matter what the change is, we've been adjusting to it really well, and we simply react. It doesn't matter where we are -- we're still going to work just as hard, and we're still going to get the results. The freshmen have done really well -- it's a relief that it's been easy to go over to Huron. We thought it would be so hard, but once we got past that first week, it's been routine, and we get through it."
U-M Sophomore Shortstop Sierra Romero
With second baseman Ashley Lane and third baseman Amy Knapp gone this year, how is the infield taking shape?
"It's been going great; we communicate really well. To my left and to my right we have new people in there. Abby (Ramirez) is doing a great job (at second base), and both Kelsey (Susalla) and Monty (Lindsay Montemarano) are doing great at third. We're just communicating and working on getting better each and every day. It's great to see them out there; they are not playing like freshmen."
What has you excited for this team?
"We're just an overall very good hitting team. We can move the ball; we can put the ball where it needs to be. That's one thing I really like about this team. And we're very fast; that's going to benefit us in a lot of ways."
What advice would sophomore Sierra give to freshman Sierra?
"I'm a lot better at time management, and I don't need to freak out as much as I did freshman year -- I know everything is going to be okay. Sophomore year in general has come a lot easier than my freshman year. I've been a lot more laid back and relaxed; I'm not stressing about certain things. I know how to handle things now. I'm trying to help out the freshmen as much as I can because I know what it's like to be that freshman. It's been going great, my sophomore year has started off amazingly."
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