Michigan Wolverine Softball: Looking Back at BTT — Part II


Michigan Softball Posted at 12:00pm — -5/12/2015

Michigan Wolverine Softball: Looking Back at BTT — Part II

For anyone wondering, Coach Hutchins is truly, beyond the remotest shadow, an absolute top-shelf coach, not just one blessed with talent. Softball teams are different than men’s’ baseball teams; more relaxed, more fun oriented, more into the joy of the moment. Softball teams have chants, songs, possess goofy rituals, and all of this collectively is enjoyable to observe and surrender to the moment. Coach Hutchins is a master of the little nuances, the twilight zone balance between focus and fun, and most importantly her players are prepared.

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Note this comment: the hitting fundamentals shown throughout this line-up are magnificent; as good as I have seen for years. The mental aspects of hitting, a dying science in some levels of baseball, are present in Michigan’s approach to hitting. The next paragraph denotes a perfect example of the above statement.

Baseball and softball jargon now use the term smallball to describe the strategy of getting runners on base by walks, getting hit by a pitch, bunting, hit and run, hitting to the right side, and the age-old squeeze bunt. Every team must be adept at smallball at the needed time. Bunts are like foul shots- gotta have them! In the past smallball used to be referred to as “get ‘em on, get ‘em over, and get ‘em in.” But, some teams now use this as an entire offensive philosophy and rely on close wins fueled by great pitching and defense. Other teams love bigball, play for big innings and big final scores.

Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines /

Michigan Wolverines

Northwestern, Michigan’s first Saturday opponent, practices smallball. Michigan, by contrast, is the classic team that plays for the big inning. In today’s jargon, Michigan puts up crooked numbers. They are quite willing to let a team roll the dice and go for one run innings, because sooner or later, the dice the Wolverines throw will hit a four, five, or six: game over.

The belief here is that Coach Hutchins employed a strategy that big inning teams have historically used in facing an excellent pitcher and teams relying on winning 2-1 type games. This strategy is similar to a boxer, like a Marciano or Ali, who take punches but later explode when the opponent weakens. Michigan’s hitters, showing great poise and plate discipline, took an extreme amount of pitches against Northwestern’s starter Kristen Wood. The patience yielded constant pressure to make better pitches, both concerning location and effect.

This adds up and as the pitches mount the crooked number potential rises. The third inning yielded a walk to Tera Blanco and a bunt to get a runner to second base. Then, bigball struck as leadoff hitter Sierra Lawrence drove the hands through a pitch for a double to left-center field. The other member of the Sierra Club, Sierra Romero, completed the big inning strategy by whacking a fastball over the centerfield fence. The rout was on as Michigan put up crooked numbers in the fourth and fifth inning to complete the 9-0 early mercy win.

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  • Megan Betsa was most impressive against the smallball Wildcats, allowing one hit and giving up no walks. Northwestern could sense early trouble when several hitters took called third strikes. Smallball teams somewhat rely on tight strike zones. Betsa has a wonderful change and drop, her location is usually very strong, and she is good enough to make Michigan an equal against top completion. She is not in any manner totally dominating, but is instead a pitcher in control of the situation. Still, Betsa recorded 10 strikeouts in only five innings and has put up nice strikeout totals through smart work and not pure speed.

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    Written by GBMWolverine Writer/Staff — Chris Hill and Doc4Blu

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