May 31, 2005
S e RiTiSgan Bail
Call it d.j vu: Michigan 'S
makes it back to Series
By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins had said repeat-
edly that she thought there were more than 20 teams that
had the ability to win the College World Series. With their
backs against the wall, the Wolverines proved they were one
of those teams.
On Saturday, Washington had taken control of the Super
Regional. The Huskies came out and beat Michigan in game
two of the best-of-three series. Washington then jumped out
to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of game three thanks to a
home run by senior catcher Kristen Rivera. Instead of back-
ing down, the Wolverines got their bats going in the top of the
second propelling them to an 11-2 win.
Freshman first basemen Samantha Findlay - the only
Michigan starter who hadn't reached base yet in the series
- started the second inning by lining a single down the
third-base line. Senior Nicole Motycka stepped to the plate
and on the first pitch she saw belted a home run, tying the
game at two.
"Once it went over, I felt, honestly, a little bit of relief,"
Motycka said. "It's 0-0 (game). Not that I didn't think we
were going tobe able to do it, early in the game that just gave
us a little bit of ease."
After tying the game in the top of the second, the Wol-
verines (60-5) looked to be in a bit of trouble when starting
pitcher Lorilyn Wilson gave up a single to Washington (35-
22) pitcher Caitlin Noble. Huskie Dominique Lastrapes then
walked with two outs in the inning. Shortstop Ashley Char-
ters grounded to third base but was called safe at first. As the
call was made, Noble charged to home plate. She was called
out at the plate, although she appeared to be safe. The out pre-
vented any runs for Washington, and Michigan's onslaught
"I wasn't going to stop (Noble) - I think it was a gutsy
move," Washington coach Heather Tarr said. "I think she was
safe, but the umpire called her out of the baseline. She never
got touched, and she didn't break the outside of the bag"
With the game still tied at two afterthe close play at home,
Freshman Alessandra Giampaolo blasted a towering home
run over the bleachers in right field, giving the Wolverines a
3-2 lead. SeniorJessica Merchant laced a single into left field
and advanced to second after two quick outs. But that left
Michigan in a familiar, comfortable position.
"As soon as we get two outs, it's like a relief,"tjunior Grace
Leutele said. "It should be the other way around, but we look
forward to scoring after that."
True to form, Leutele hit a single up the middle, scoring
Merchant and giving the Wolverines a 4-2 lead.
With the lead, Hutchins went tojuniorJennie Ritter - Big
Ten Pitcher of the Year - after Wilson gave up a single to
Rivera in the bottom of the third. Even though Ritter lost the
first game of the day, 3-2, she looked like she had puttthat loss
behind her. Shetossed four innings ofno-hit ball to make sure
the Huskies never had a chance to get back into the game.
Even with Ritter back on the mound, the Michigan offense
made sure Ritter wouldn't need her best stuff. With two outs
once again, Michigan got its bats started and exploded for six
runs in the fourth inning. Merchant struck out, but the ball got
past Rivera, allowing Merchant tosreach base and the inning to
continue with the bases loaded. Findlay roped a double down
third-base line after a Giampaolo walk, scoring two runs.
Motycka's single brought home Findlay and Merchant and a
8-2 lead for the Wolverines. Michigan now had complete con-
trol of the game, and the Wolverines were ready to pack their
bags for the College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
"Anything can happen out there with eight quality teams,"
Hutchins said. "Anybody can win that tournament, and if
anybody can win it, we can win it."
Junior Grace Leutele was 3-for4 with a home run and three RBI in Sunday's decisive gam