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April 07, 2014 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-07

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4B -April 7, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

48 -Aprl 7 201 Th Mihiga Daly micigadaiyco

sM' sweeps OSU
Hutchins earns outfielder Nicole Sappingfield
and Romero ran home later in
500th Big Ten win, the inning.
The Buckeyes quickly took out
Wolverines allow right-hander Olivia O'Reilly and
put in Kasie Kelly to pitch, hoping
only one run to salvage the inning before it
was too late.
By KELLY HALL But Kelly couldn't stop the
Daily Sports Writer Wolverines either, and junior
catcher Lauren Sweet hit a
In Michigan softball grand slam to end the game in
coach Carol Hutchins' 500th the bottom of the fifth for a 10-0
conference win on Sunday, junior mercy-rule victory.
right- Two freshman pitchersfaced
hander OHIO STATE 0 off against each other in the
Sara MICHIGAN 1 back half of the double-header.
Driesenga Freshman right-hander Megan
led the OHIO STATE 0 Betsa and Ohio State's Shelby
Wolverines MICHIGAN 10 Hursh both earned no-hitters
into hot earlier this season - Betsa last
water early. OHIO STATE 1 Wednesday against Detroit,
In the MICHIGAN 9 and Hursh against Utah Valley
first half of in February.
the Wolverines' double-header The Wolverines easily
against Ohio State (5-4 Big dominated the second game
Ten, 17-18 overall), the junior as well, in which Betsa threw
sacrificed a double to the leadoff 10 strikeouts in the following
hitter. She struck out the two innings. The Buckeyes saved
following batters, but ended up themselves from being shut out
walking the Buckeyes' next two for the entire weekend when
to load the bases. Michigan (9-0, Cammi Prantl, who reached first
29-6) escaped potential disaster base when Betsa hit her, scored
when a grounder to senior first later in the inning. Betsa struck
baseman Caitlin Blanchard out the next two batters to end
ended the top of the firstinning. the second.
That was the biggest threat the Sweetresponded to Ohio State's
Wolverines faced all weekend, one-run lead by hitting a homer to
eventually shutting out Ohio right center. The bats came alive
State 10-0 in the first game and once more, asDoyle and freshman
allowing only one run in the next second baseman Abby Ramirez
game in a 9-1 win. both reached home.

Daily Sports Writer
At thestart ofthe fourth inning
Sunday, the fans at Alumni Field
inched forward in their chairs,
almost in unison.
Usually, a none-on, none-out
at-bat in the middle of a game
wouldn't cause astir. But this one
was different. This was Sierra
Romero coming to the plate.
The sophomore shortstop
fouled off a high fastball on the
first pitch, then watched an
outside pitch go past her.
Ohio State's pitching had
stymied the Michigan softball
team the day before - it gave up
just five hits and one run - and
was on its way to more of the
same on Sunday. The Wolverines
had mustered only one hit in the
first three innings.
Romero, who struck out in
her first at-bat of the game, was
just happy that Buckeye right-
hander Olivia O'Reilly was
throwing her strikes. The day
before, O'Reilly had walked her
twice to start the game.
"I get so excited when I get a
strike," Romero said. "I know I'm
not going to get on every time,
but it's nice to get a chance to just
swingthe bat."
She did more -
than just swing ,
on the 1-1 pitch. It' sfnl
She crushed it
into the pine a chanc
trees beyond "
the left-center swingt
fence for her
10th home run
of the season.
In that one swing, the
sophomore turned the game
on its head, as the Wolverines
poured on nine more runs in the
fourth and fifth innings to earn a
10-0 mercy-rule victory.
"It was just one of those things
where we needed one person to
hit it hard,"said senior designated
player Taylor Hasselbach, who
homered three batters later.

Romero turns tide in series

Sophomore shortstop Sierra Romero is batting .512, but she helps Michigan win even when she's intentionally walked.

"Hitting is contagious."
It was a clutch hit. It was a
spark for a slumping offense. And
it was exactly the type of play
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
has grown accustomed to with
Romero on the roster.
our heart
and soul,"
ce to get Hutchins said.
"I'd take a
.e to just millionofher."
the bat. Every
time the
need a big play,
Romero seems
to deliver - sometimes with a big
hit or deep home run, other times
with something intangible.
Sunday she provided the long
ball. Saturday, it was the latter.
In the first inning, with two
outs, Romero walked. Hutchins
called for Romero to steal second
base, which she did, easily.
Early in the game, the steal
didn't seem like much. But when

senior first baseman Caitlin
Blanchard singled through the
right side of the infield, Hutchins
waved Romero around third base
and toward the plate.
Ohio . State right-fielder
Caitlin Conrad got a good jump
on the ball, fielded it cleanly and
fired a laser to home plate, giving
Buckeye catcher Taylor Watkins
the ball with Romero still five
feet down the base path.
It should have been an easy
tag to end the inning.
But in a split second, Romero
dove headfirst for the corner of
the plate, beating Watkins' tag
and supplying the Wolverines
with their only run of the game
- the only one they would need
in a 1-0 victory.
"(Diving) was actually a last-
second decision," she said. "I
thought by diving I would limit
what parts of me she could
actually tag."
Michigan's roster, from top
to bottom, is filled with talent.
It has players who are heady,

players who are athletic and
plenty of leaders.
Romero is all of the above.
Her fielding is deliberate and
smooth, her base running
tactful and her plate presence
nearly impeccable. She's batting
.512 and gets on base in a jaw-
dropping 64 percent of her plate
There's not an easy out in the
lineup, and yet Romero is fourth
in the nation with 1.03 walks
per game. Teams pitch around
her to face Blanchard, who bats
.333 and has 25 RBI.
They walk Romero so they
can pitch to a player who gets
a hit in one-third of her at-bats.
It's a ludicrous idea, yet it's the
right decision every time.
That's because when Romero
gets a strike, more times than
not, she's hitting it through the
infield or over the outfielders -
way over the outfielders.
So when she steps to the plate,
the crowd perks up. It would be
silly not to.

"I felt good
just warming
up," Driesenga "W e neE
said. "That
first inning,
they loaded p
the bases hard.
up, but even
during that, I is Contc
had a couple
of strikeouts. I
just needed to
come back."
But Driesenga was just
getting started. She collected six
strikeouts over the course of the
gaeinthe Wolverines' shutout.
Hutchins claimssher team's
hitting is contagious, and that
runs always come in bunches.
That proved to be true at Alumni
Field in the bottom of the fourth.
The game was scoreless until
sophomore shortstop Sierra
Romero hit a solo homer to
left field. Later that inning,
senior designated hitter Taylor
Hasselbach hit a two-run home
run and suddenly the Wolverines
had the momentum they needed.
"It was one of those things
where we needed one person
to hit it hard and we had
that happen, and hitting is
contagious," Hasselbach said.
The next inning, Driesenga
pitched a quick 1-2-3 frame for
Michigan to lead into the bottom
of the fifth, when things really
started to pick up.
Senior outfielder Lyndsay
Doyle reached home plate off
a sacrifice fly before senior

In the
bottom of
eded one the sixth, the
mercy rule
to hit it was enacted
again when
H itting eight more
agious." crossed
home plate.
Hasselbach hit
a grand slam -
her third homer of the weekend
- to bring in four of those runs.
The senior, who became a
regular starter in the past few
weekshadeight RBI on Saturday.
"I was just a little more
aggressive today," Hasselbach
said. "Usually when I succeed,
I swing at the first pitch, second
pitch. I was just aggressive today
and it worked out in my favor."
After Hasselbach struck
out in each of her three at-bats
Saturday, it gave her a vote of
confidence when Hutchins put
her in again Sunday.
"Yesterday, she looked like the
old Taylor," Hutchins said. "She
struckout three times, not seeing
the ball, not really swinging to hit
it. I was really pleased to see her
pull herself out of it ... She needs
to know that I believe in her and
she's beengettingit done forus."
Michigan didn't rely on
any one player to carry it to its
series sweep of Ohio State. In
front of its home crowd, the
Wolverines relied on grandslams
and pitching, outscoring the
Buckeyes 20-1 over the weekend.

Bats cool off, Wolverines lose twice

Daily Sports Writer
With one out in the bottom
of the eighth inning, Sunday's
outcome looked promising forthe
Michigan baseball team. Junior
Glines, the MICHIGAN 6
best hitter, MINNESOTA 1
was at MICHIGAN 8
bat with
the bases MINNESOTA 3
loaded. MICHIGAN 1
Down just
3-1, a lead was in sight
But Glines grounded into a
double play, to end the inning,
leaving the Wolverines were in
disbelief. Sophomore shortstop
Travis Maezes stared into
the dugout. Sophomore third
baseman Jacob Cronenworth
squatted, looking down into the
turf. Freshman catcher Harrison
Wenson had his hand on his hips,
staring up in the sky. They all
knew the opportunity was there,
but nothing came of it.

A day after tallying 11 hits,
Michigan couldn't find enough
offense on Sunday, losing to
Minnesota, 3-1.
Michigan (4-5 Big Ten, 14-17-1
overall) started the day's scoring
when junior first baseman Kyle
Jusick led off the second inning
with a double to right-center
field and scored on freshman
left fielder Carmen Benedetti's
sacrifice fly.
Minnesota (5-4, 17-10)
responded in odd fashion.
With two outs in the third
inning, junior left-hander Trent
Szkutnik struck out Dan Mott,
but a dropped third strike and a
throwing error by Wenson left
Motl in scoring position. He
scored on the next play.
It appeared that Wenson
initially tagged Motl, as he
reacted oddly to the umpires'
no call on what appeared to be a
routine dropped third strike.
"I didn't have a great view, but
I was justgoing off of (Wenson's)
reaction," said Michigan coach
Erik Bakich. "I think Harrison
probably got him.

"We've just got to learn fromit.
We've got to be tough enough to
where we can overcome that and
not exacerbate the situation and
give a two-out hit."
The Golden Gophers took their
momentum to the fourth inning,
scoring two runs off a ground-
rule double and an RBI single.
Aside from Jusick's double,
Michigan couldn't find any timely
hitting. Minnesota forced four
1-2-3 innings and the Wolverines
failed to provide any run support.
Szkutnik entered the game
0-3, a meager record at face
value. But it certainly isn't
representative of how dominant
he has pitched. With eight MLB
scouts watching his outing, the
junior threw six innings on
Sunday, allowing just two earned
runs while punching out five.
"(Szkutnik) gave us a chance
to win, and we didn't get it done
behind him," Bakich said.
Perhaps the most impressive
part of Szkutnik's day was not
succumbing to the pressure of
"iT '-A,. -^ o w

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nervous)," Szkutnik said. "But
you've got to analyze yourself.
Thinking about that - will that
help you win? The team win? It
Minnesota's strong defense,
though, proved to be too much
to overcome, despite Szkutnik's
performance. In the fifth inning,
senior catcher Cole Martin was
thrown out by the right fielder
attempting to take third on a
Benedetti single.
Michigan showed glimpses
of being a Big Ten contender
this weekend, but it must fix
its inconsistencies if it has any
hope of making a splash in the
What happened Friday:
Cronenworth allowed three
runs in a blown save, including
one on a walk in the 11th-inning
of the Wolverines' 9-6 loss to
"We dug ourselves a pretty
good hole a couple of times,"
Bakich said. "When you have
a chance to win the game, you
win the game."
The blame, though,
couldn't solely be pinned on
Cronenworth. Senior right-
hander Ben Ballantine struggled
to find any rhythm, throwing 77
pitches in three innings while
allowing four hits and a run.
Michigan gotdown early, 5-0,
but came back firing, eventually
evening the game at six to go
into extra innings.
But, once again, the bats
became anemic, and Minnesota
tallied three runs for the win.
What happened Saturday:
Michigan combined hot bats
with near-perfect pitching to
even the series with Minnesota.
The Wolverines looked
to change the weekend's
momentum, and they did just
that in an 8-1 win.
Sophomore left-hander Evan
Hill was the catalyst behind
Michigan's success, throwing
6.2 scoreless innings in
dominant fashion. He finished
the game with four strikeouts.
Freshman outfielder Jackson
Lamb gave Hill all the run
support he needed, hitting a
two-run home run to left-center
field - the first home run at Ray
Fisher Stadium this season.

Junior left-hander Trent Szkutnik pitched well Sunday afternoon, but it wasn't enough to earn Michigan a series win.

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