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May 28, 2015 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com SPORTS

Softball to battle
Alabama Thursday


Daily Sports Writer

The Michigan softball team plays

its first game in the Women’s Col-
lege World Series at 7:00pm Thurs-
day against Alabama, a rematch of a
preseason two-game set where the
Wolverines took both games.

Michigan won both times before,

but that was back in February, a
long time ago. When the two teams
last squared off in the Easton Bama
Bash at Tuscaloosa, there was still
snow on Alumni field.

But the Wolverines did get a look at

Crimson Tide pitcher Alexis Osorio in
the second of those two games back in
February, and she got a look at them.

Osorio gave up two home runs in

the third inning to give Michigan
its second win over Alabama on the
season, 4-1. Now, that game seems
like just one win out of many, but
at the time it was significant for the

“I think it

really started
clicking when

Alabama,” said
Megan Betsa.

‘Hey, we’re a

team. We have
really good chemistry, and that’s
something that (Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins) preaches about
from the very first meeting.”

Since that realization, Michigan

has swept the Big Ten Champion-
ships and won every postseason
game along the way to get to the
WCWS. Alabama does not have the
conference championships to boast,
and they dropped the first game of
their Super Regional series to No.
11 Oklahoma before punching their
own ticket to the series.

Osorio threw 241 pitches in last

Saturday’s doubleheader against
the Sooners. The Crimson Tide
weren’t certain they’d have a spot
reserved in Oklahoma City until
the sixth inning of the forced game
three when Infielder Marissa Run-
yon hit a grand slam that allowed
Alabama to take the lead for good.

The Crimson Tide and the Wol-

verines took different paths to their
round one WCWS matchup, but
Michigan isn’t going to underesti-
mate its opponent.

“(Alabama) is a great team,” said

junior second baseman Sierra Rome-
ro. “They’re a great hitting team and
they have a great pitching staff as well.
It’s going to be a good game, and we
expect every game in the World Series
to be a good game because it’s the top-
eight teams in the nation now.”

The Wolverines also have the

added benefit of rest after wrapping
up the Super Regionals in just two
games before the weekend. Whether
Osorio will be at all fatigued by her
high pitch count remains to be seen,
but with a 1.68 ERA and opposing bat-
ting average of just .166.

That’s why it might be helpful to

look back to those early games after all.

All of the four runs Osorio

allowed against Michigan, includ-
ing the two home runs, came in the
third inning or earlier. After that,

she allowed only one
hit, and nothing else.

Since the postsea-

son, and really all
year long, Hutchins
and the Wolverines
have underlined the
importance of com-
ing out “attacking”
and being aggressive
with every at bat to
get on base.

“We did well last

time we saw Alabama’s pitching,
but again that has no bearing on this
time,” Hutchins said. “Because Oso-
rio is a lot better. She’s a lot closer
to the zone, she’s able to nibble the
zone. I was impressed watching
her. She was able to keep Oklahoma
off balance and Oklahoma is a good
hitting team. So I’m going to have to
say that runs will be precious.”

The Wolverines will be swinging

their bats out of the gate like they
always do. Forty-four of the 76 runs
that Michigan has scored this post-
season have crossed the plate during
the first three innings of the game.

Hutchins assumes run will be at

premium cost. Osorio has the tal-
ent to shut down any lineup in the
country, but if she slips up early,
the Wolverines could make her
pay – just like in February – and it
wouldn’t matter how well she pitch-
es after that.

Michigan takes down
’Dogs, on to World Series


Daily Sports Wrter

If anyone thought that just

because Georgia had been beat-
en soundly the day before that
it would quietly accept defeat in
Friday’s second game of the Super
Regional, they were mistaken.

“That Georgia team,” said

coach Carol

fighters, they are scrappy. That’s
a tough team to play and a tough
team to beat.”

The Michigan softball team

had to battle back from an early
deficit to survive the Bulldog’s
best efforts, but clinched the the
victory 7 - 6, and booked itself
a trip to the Women’s College
World Series.


They’ve been fantastic all year,”
Hutchins said. “I’m really proud
of them. I said, ‘Don’t be proud
because you won. Be proud of
what you’ve worked so hard to

Just like Georgia right-hand-

er Chelsea Wilkinson the night
before, sophomore right-hander
Megan Betsa was overwhelmed
by early hitting, and her day was
done before the first inning was

In total, Betsa allowed two hits

in two thirds of an inning pitched.
Both of them were homers. Geor-

gia first baseman Tina Iosefa put
the Bulldogs up 3-0 with the sec-
ond long ball of the inning, and
that was the end for Betsa. At least
for the time being.


Hutchins sent out senior left-
hander Haylie Wagner to take
over in the circle. All eyes were on
her to give Michigan some time
before the game got out of reach.

It didn’t take long thanks to

Kelsey Susalla. The junior right
fielder put Michigan on the board
with a solo shot of her own in the
second inning.

A third inning RBI single hit

past first base by junior second
baseman Sierra Romero scored
another run for Michigan, and a
comeback was in the works. With
only one out, junior centerfielder
Sierra Lawrence, the best Michi-
gan baserunner and the tying
run, was standing on third.

Sophomore left fielder Kelly

Christner smacked a 0-1 pitch
into right field, where Georgia
outfielder Sydni Emmanuel made
a spectacular diving grab, but
couldn’t get to her feet to make
the throw in time.


scored before any throw at all,
and the Wolverines breathed a
collective sigh of relief.

Susalla was 3-for-3 at the plate

on the day, and insured Michi-
gan’s lead with a few additional
runs. She knocked in an RBI dou-
ble in the fifth inning, eventually

coming around to score herself.

“The coaches were drilling us

to ‘see the back of the ball hit the
back of the ball,” Susalla said. “So
I was just looking for something
low in the zone and looking to put
a good swing on the ball.”

After scoring one run to cut

Michigan’s lead to two, Wag-
ner struck out designated player
Kaylee Puailoa to end the threat
in the sixth.

Georgia, after starting the

game so full of vigor, was down
to its last hope. After Wagner
struck out Hugo – the power
slugger that started it all for the
Bulldogs – Michigan was on vic-
tory’s doorstep.

The crowd was still roaring

for Wagner when, without warn-
ing, senior third baseman Anna
Swafford belted a two-run shot
past the confines of the center-
field wall.

Wagner went out after seven

hits and three runs through six
innings pitched. Betsa came back
in with the hopes to earn a com-
plete inning on the day in a fash-
ion opposite to how she started.

Griffin popped up. The ball

arced through the air, and came
down inside the glove of Romero.
After a day full of drama, Michi-
gan had finished the job. With
the final catch Romero ensured
for her team that the dream of
making it to the Women’s College
World Series was now indeed a


Junior second baseman Sierra Romero was named unanimous first team All-American in Wednesday’s awards release.



“We expect
every game in

the World Series

to be good.”

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