Posted at 6:00am -- 5/22/2011 GBMWolverine: Michigan Softball -- NCAA Regio..."/> Posted at 6:00am -- 5/22/2011 GBMWolverine: Michigan Softball -- NCAA Regio..."/>

GBMWolverine: Michigan Softball — NCAA Regional Coverage — Game 2 and 3


Posted at 6:00am — 5/22/2011

GBMWolverine: Michigan Softball — NCAA Regional Coverage — Game 2 and 3

One of those days: Michigan drops a close, but not close game to Kentucky

Every coach who has spent a considerable amount of time coaching baseball or softball knows the end result frequently can be associated with one event, one pitch, one moment.

That could be so regarding the noon Saturday game between Kentucky and Michigan; the only debate would be which moment.

Moment one could have been how Kentucky’s coaches worked the crew the first two innings and then Coach Hutch informs the home plate ump to wake up a little on the inside corner and gets a game warning for arguing balls and strikes. If in Coach Hutch’s shoes, I would have done the same. A coach cannot let the other team take over the game on your own home field.

Moment two was another costly error by Senior Dorian Shaw that led to the first run of the game, unearned. Dorian is a great young lady and once in a while she clobbers the ball out of sight. But leaning over and making the routine play just is not her forte.

Moment three may have come when Taylor Jordan was pulled, with Michigan well down. Conventional wisdom says rest Jordan for any innings she can still provide in the tournament. The comeback cast a little doubt on the move, but frankly it was the only call most coaches would make. There should be no so-called invented controversy. It is a shame, one of those moments, that UM could not hold the fort, or the big bomb grand salami would have meant something.

The real moment was the bizarre call that may or may not have cost Michigan a big inning. What appeared to be a hit batsman was called a hits batsman and was reversed to an out by an indecisive home plate umpire and an emphatic out call by third base umpire Keller. From being only 30 feet away the overturn did not appear to be in order. The hitter was turning to get out of the way and even if the contact was over the plate that call is rarely given. Even at the ballpark there were numerous versions of what happened.

Michigan’s offense continued to struggle as some great first pitches down the middle were ignored, poor times at bat with few swings were common, and again, swinging under the ball and hitting what some old timers call “doubles in a phone booth” led to easy innings by Kentucky’s Chanda Bell. Bell is a very capable upper level college pitcher, but was helped by Michigan;s early passiveness and failure to get on top of the ball.

It is not easy in softball to always get on top of the ball as pitchers throw risers compared to baseball pitchers who try to throw a downward plane starting at about six feet on the release and ending up at knee level, a total drop of about three feet. The end result of a good pitch on the knees is to force the eyes to change and drop focus downward. This takes time and may be just enough advantage for a good pitcher that the hitter gets only a piece of the ball. The higher the pitch, the more a hitter must get on top of the ball, and Michigan’s hitters are taking the riser and hitting it square in the middle of the ball, the result, a lazy easy pop-up.

The game started off a little tense as Michigan, the visitor (the NCAA has a funky “fair” system for being home team), came to the plate very passive, not at all a good sign. The team is young at spots and some of the players are a little tentative. This is nothing more than the normal metamorphosis of the learning curve at high level college competition.

Kentucky took the lead on the Shaw error but broke the game open with three in both the 4th and 5th innings.

As stated in last night’s article, Kentucky can hit and some of their hitters, Cervantes and Demartine are really tough outs, true battlers, the type of hitters coaches love to have in a lineup. Kentucky puts the ball in play and found some landing zones that every team desires.

Michigan rallied fiercely, and the rally was capped by the grand slam by Ashley Lane. The old expression too little too late does not apply because UM was within range at 7-6 with no outs, but the bottom of the order went down rather meekly. This loss is costly as about two of every three teams that win the winner’s bracket final go on to win the tournament.

This game again demonstrates that the greatest asset of baseball and softball is that the clock does not run out. But Michigan’s hope of winning the tournament took a bit hit.

Next up, the winner of the Western Michigan and Notre Dame game.

Notre Dame ended up beating Western Michigan 4-0.

Michigan facing Notre Dame in the elimination game on Saturday night.

Jordan Taylor didn’t have her best stuff on Saturday, but she did show she can fight back along with the entire softball team.
The problem is they cannot afford to get behind like they have done in the regional play and be able to come back especially when your looking at one and done now situation for the Michigan softball program.

Notre Dame got on top of Michigan early with a couple of runs that were from mistakes on Michigan’s part along with finding the holes in the defense with the small ball tactic.

Michigan fought back to in the third inning with three runs of their own and taking the lead, but it didn’t last very long.

Notre Dame kept adding runs each inning and the score looked to be over. They had a 8-3 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning and then the wheels started coming off for Notre Dame. Michigan got a few runners on base and it just got the ball rolling.

Michigan was able to get six runs that inning and take the lead 9-8 with Jordan Taylor looking to close out the game.

Well Notre Dame fought back once again and got base runners in scoring position, but Michigan came away with the win.

Up next Kentucky with a must win games today for Michigan to continue to the Super Regional.

They have to beat Kentucky twice today to move on and be able to host next weekends event.

Michigan vs. Kentucky — Finals
DirecTV Channel 206

If Michigan wins, they will play again right after the first game today. The winner goes on to the Super Regional.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

Go Blue — Wear Maize!