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April 21, 2014 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-21

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2B - April 21, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Betsa shows resolve

Travis Maezes went 3-for-4 and drove home the first two runs Sunday as the Wolverines won another weekend series.
Wolverines take two

Freshman pitches
complete game,
earns win in series
finale Sunday
By JUSTIN MEYER
Daily Sports Writer
in the top of the fifth inning
Sunday, Michigan softball
pitcher Megan Betsa headed
back to the circle after her pitch
sailed just outside the strike
zone. The count was now full,
but there seemed little reason to
be fazed - the freshman righty
had already struck out the first
two batters and had carried the
fifth-ranked Wolverines all day
to that point.
Minnesota's Sam Macken sent
the next pitch 30 feet into the
stands in right field, tying up the
game at one apiece.
Macken's hit was exactly
the type of thing that would've
rattled Betsa earlier in the
season, but the freshman battled
back this time in a 7-2 victory.
It wasn't easy, either. Betsa,
who tossed 10 strikeouts in
five innings and had a no hitter
going before the Macken homer,
surrendered another home
run to begin the sixth. The
12th-ranked Gophers continued
to make solid contact, driving
another pitch to the warning
track before sophomore left
fielder Sierra Lawrence picked it
BY THE NUMBERS
Megan Betsa
463
Strikeoutsasa high schoolsenior,good
for Player of the Year honors.

By BRAD WHIPPLE
Daily Sports Writer
After splitting its first two
games of the weekend against
Purdue, the_
Michigan PURDUE 6
baseball MICHIGAN 7
team
triumphed PURDUE 6
Sunday for MICHIGAN 2
the series
win. PURDUE 3
Saturday MICHIGAN 13
in West
Lafayette, the Wolverines' bats
froze and their shaky defense
was exploited, but they came into
the final game of the series firing
on all cylinders to claim another
Big Ten weekend. ,
Michigan (8-7 Big Ten, 18-21-1
overall) jumped out to a six-run
lead in the first three innings
Sunday and never looked back.
The Wolverines rallied behind a
seven-inning outing from senior
left-hander Logan McAnallen,
who allowed just four hits and
struck out three.
"Winning a series on the
road is a tough thing to do,"
said Michigan coach Erik
Bakich. "At the same time, we
expect to win every series that
we play, whether it's at home or
on the road."
Despite the loss the night
before, Michigan let the memory
of defeat slip its mind and came
out swinging with confidence
in the 17-hit game, its second-
highest of the season.
In the first inning, the
Wolverines' first eight batters

had quality at-bats and never
faced a two-strike count.
Sophomore shortstop Travis
Maezes led off with a double
to left field, and Michigan then
batted around.
"The first inning couldn't
have gone any better," Bakich
said. "We needed to come out
and deliver a pretty good punch
right from the start."
Twice in the Wolverines' last
six games, Michigan has forced
the starting pitcher out of the
game in the first inning. Purdue
right-hander Brett Haan threw
just 26 pitches and gave up
three runs before being pulled
- Hann was replaced before the
ninth batter.
"We didn't want to wait
around and feel the game out,"
Maezes said. "We wanted to be
the aggressor and get the bats
going early."
The Wolverines continued to
be dominant, scoring twice in the
second inning off hot, top-of-the-
order batting, and adding another
tally in the third, forcing the
Boilermakers (4-8, 9-26) to reach
even deeper into their bullpen -
in the sixth inning, they made
three changes on the mound.
According to Bakich,
McAnallen wasn't pitching as
sharply as he could've in the first
three innings - he walked two
of the first five batters - but he
improved late in the game. He
didn't allow Purdue's first run
until the sixth inning, but that
didn't faze him as he pounded
the zone for two more innings.
"He was able to just squash

any momentum they had,"
Bakich said. "We played solid
defense behind him and put
ourselves in a position for our
offense to relax and continue to
extend the lead."
The Wolverines remained
relentless at the plate in the
seventh inning to score five more
runs while batting through the
order for the second time.
Though it took three
Michigan pitchers to provide
relief after McAnallen, the
Wolverines' explosive offense
throughout the game provided
a thick enough cushion to pull
ahead of .500 in the conference.
"We're going to need to
continue at a very high and
consistent level," Bakich said.
"We're also going to need
some help with some other
teams scuffling."
Whathappened Friday:
Looking to continue their Big
Ten momentum after taking
two of three in Champaign,
the Wolverines made a strong
entrance into Friday's series
opener, but it took 12 innings,
their longest of the season, to
pull off a 7-6 win over Purdue.
Tied at six in the 12th,
freshman designated hitter
Carmen Benedetti doubled
down the right-field line to score
the go-ahead run.
What happened Saturday:
The Boilermakers' bats
bullied the Michigan defense
and exploited two errors en
route to a 6-2 decision, ending
the Wolverines' three-game
conference win streak.

out of the air, but Betsa grew Through five innings Betsa
more comfortable throughout shut down the Gophers with
the inning. more authority than either
"It was a bad pitch and I took Driesenga or junior lefty Haylie
the credit for that," Betsa said. Wagner managed in the series'
"I threw it right over the plate, first two games. Batters fanned
and she did what she's supposed at pitch after pitch, and Betsa's
to do with it. That was on me, mix of stuff from the mound
and I've got to come back and kept every Gopher off balance.
give my team a chance. My "That change-up is dirty,"
defense worked behind me, and said Michigan coach Carol
I mixed speeds and kept them Hutchins. "But she still likes
off balance." to bounce it in, or she tries too
Betsa was highly touted hard with some of her pitches."
in high school, finishing her Betsa said the change-up is
career as one of the top pitchers something that has never really
in Georgia softball history. She worked for her before coming to
threw 463 strikeouts in 235 Michigan, but she now has both
innings her senior season in a rise-ball and drop-ball version
addition to winning the state she is confident throwing.
championship and earning "I throw one, and if it's not
Gatorade Player of the Year working, I have another one to
honors. The accomplishments go to," she said. "When I would
set high expectations for her bounce a few in the dirt, and
freshman campaign with they just weren't working, I
the Wolverines. would go.to the other one and it
At first, though, wasshe wasn't would get them swinging."
meeting those In
expectations. addition to
It has been "She the physical
a long and She just needs tools she has
often trying added, Betsa
freshman to throw it at has also
season for h m e a developed
Betsa. In the them, because some of the
first game of they swing and swagger that
her collegiate Hutchins
career, Betsa they mis" stresses. No
walked a batter " * longer does
and hit another every pitch
with the bases seem to affect
loaded, exiting her emotional
the game after failing to get an state, and her rhythm in the
out. It took her some time to circle is looking more natural
regain the confidence that made every game.
her a highly coveted recruit. That's a scary prospect for
Frequent walks and shaky opposing hitters, because Betsa
confidence on the mound might be the hardest-throwing
continued to plague Betsa for pitcher in Michigan's star-
months before physical and studded rotation.
mental adjustments helped her "She just needs to throw at
regain elite form in the circle. them, because they swing and
The culmination of that miss," Hutchins said. "She was
transformation was Sunday's better today."
win over Minnesota. The win gave Betsa the
"I had adjustments that I marquee victory of her
had to make in the fall that still collegiate career to this point.
weren'tperfect,"Betsasaidofher But perhaps more
early season struggles. "Things importantly, it gave the
are different in practice than Wolverines another piece for
they are in the game - that was the postseason.
the problem for me. It shouldn't The speed on her pitch
be that way. Minnesota's a great and ability to keep hitters
team, and I think a few weeks off balance make a confident
ago I wouldn't even have been and poised Betsa a powerful
put in the circle because of my addition to an already deep
confidence issues." rotation come May.

11
Strikeouts Sunday afternoon, helping
Michigan tootle the Gohers.

ON SOFTBALL
From Page lB-
opponent.
It takes one momentum
swing - one home run, one
W E O Nb ases-clearingdoubl ior even
one out at home - to shift
W L LEL Ethegame.
A The blowouts of the previous
five weekends didn't cement
Michigan as an invincible team
undoubtedly on its way to the
Women's College World Series.
Neither did a 2-l series win
over the Gophers.
But any suspicions that
the Wolverines won't know
how to respond after playing
cushy Big Ten schedule are
9 inaccurate.
They're not going to roll
their ground and ot let their
opponent touch their plate.
av From Page lB
I~ j side. With a runner in
scoring position, the Gophers
replaced starting pitcher Sara
? S~t Moulton with left-bander
Nikki Anderson.
Romero was next up, but this
time, Minnesota intentionally
walked her. The home crowd
stood up and booed as Romero
made her way to first. The walk
fired up Blanchard, who had
@JIMMJBHN.CBMalready registered a hit in the
____________________________________ third inning.
"It's just a situation where
they're throwing around
FREAKYiFAsT. somebody to get to you,"
Blanchard said. "Of course you
DLLI~ EEIT take that personally, and I'm
pretty determined to go up
there and get a hit."
Blanchard stepped up to bat
with the bases loaded sod hit
a long double to dead center,

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins has helped Megan Betsa develop mentally and is helping her reach her full pot

allowing three
to score. The
Blanchard a sta
as freshman first
Christner was su
pinch run.
"(The
hit) was
pretty awe-
some, espe-
cially since
it was such a
close game,"
Blanchard
said. "One
swing of the
bat was able
to change the
mood in the
air. It was a great
Betsa gave up
in the sixth whe
ter she saw hit
the left field lin
adjusted, like ea
and the next
retired in order.

e Wolverines "I thought (Betsa) did
crowd gave respond," Hutchins said. "She
nding ovation came outalittle tentativesagainst
baseman Kelly (Minnesota's Tyler Walker) and
ibstituted in to then she got it done, and those
are the things that are going to
happen. You're
never going
to be flawless,
"I'm pretty things are not
always going to
determined to go your way."
The Gophers
go up there and got their last
chance at
get a hit." redemption in
the top of the
seventhinning.
But Betsa kept
feeling." her composure and ended the
her second hit game quickly, allowing only one
n the first bat- batter to reach.
a homer down "This series was way better
ie. She quickly for us than winning huge over
rlier that night, Michigan State or Indiana,"
three hitters Hutchins said. "It made us a
better team, it made us com-

pete, it made us stay focused
and intense and showed us that
we can lose a game and be OK."
BY THE NUMBERS
Michigan softball
3
Gameshby which Michigan leads
second-slace Nebraska in the BigTen.

Z
Outfield assiststfor Lyndsay Doyle on
theseason,includingone Saturday.

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