Michigan Wolverine Softball: Hayle! Hayle!


Michigan Softball Posted at 10:00pm — -5/27/2015

Michigan Wolverine Softball: Hayle! Hayle!

Michigan Returns To The WCWS

Senior Haylie Wagner’s heroic performance on both sides of the ball leads Michigan’s softball team to the Women’s College World Series Coach Carol Hutchins had pegged Haylie Wagner to be her go-to starter for a possible third and deciding NCAA softball super regional game against Georgia. Her official status was “if necessary”.

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Yet before the end of the first inning of Friday’s thrilling 7-6 Women’s College World Series-clinching win, the Michigan Wolverines were about to learn just how necessary Wagner would be.

The Bulldogs had darted out to an impressive 3-0 lead, scoring as much in their first five at-bats as they had in the previous night’s 10-3 loss to the Wolverines. B1G Pitcher of the Year Megan Betsa had been solved. With three runs already in and two more on base waiting to add to the total, fans had already begun thinking about the very real likelihood of a rubber game at the Wilpon Complex later that evening.

Then Coach Hutchins found it necessary to hand Wagner the ball.

Why hold back at this point, right? She and just about everyone on the Michigan team suffered the traumatic experience of last year’s super regional. After an eye-popping 17-3 mercy win over host Florida State, the Wolverines fell back to earth with a thud, losing two in a row and watching a promising season come to an end in the panhandle.

Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines /

Michigan Wolverines

The message Hutch took with her was to attack while you can. So out trotted Wagner, who proceeded to strike out Bulldog freshman Maeve McGuire and hold the rest of the red-hot Georgia offense to just two hits over the next four innings.

Pitching heroism wasn’t Wagner’s most impressive contribution to the Wolverine team, however. With the game tied 3-3 to start the fourth inning, another hunch hit Hutchins. Despite the availability of designated player Aidan Falk, the woman with more than 1,400 career wins under her belt opted to bat the .180-hitting Wagner instead. Haylie responded by crushing a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left center field—just her second homer and fifth hit of the season—giving the maize and blue a lead they would never relinquish.

Garden City junior right fielder Kelsey Susalla delivered a solo home run in the second inning and followed it with a double in the fifth, roping a line drive over third base that drove in a critical run. Susalla then scored herself on Lauren Sweet’s single. Sweet singled home Kelly Christner in the final inning for what seemed like an insurance run, but turned out to be the winning run.

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  • If the first inning hadn’t given the Wolverine players flashbacks of Talahassee, then the seventh inning was about to. With two outs Georgia junior Anna Swafford sent Wagner’s first pitch over the center field wall for a two-run homer, cutting the lead to 7-6. Then Tina Iosefa sent a hard single up the middle. The senior pitcher from Orange, California, was clearly struggling. The Wolverines were a mere out away from a berth in Oklahoma City, yet they were so very close to playing another game with the tenacious, buzzing Bulldogs, and this time without a sure-as-money answer on the mound.

    Hutchins wasted little time re-inserting Besta, who forced senior Naija Griffin to send a full-count pitch harmlessly into the infield air and into the glove of Michigan’s all-everything, Sierra Romero. Game over. Besta got the first two outs of the game, then returned for the one out that mattered at the end. A Haylie Wagner sandwich on Megan bread. A masterful duet performance on the mound. And the latest in an amazing season-long juggling act by Hutchins, who lost two-time all B1G pitcher Sara Driesenga to injury after just eight games.

    The bench that spends all game singing, dancing and chanting, burst onto the field and erupted into screams and hugs. The dark cloud of last year’s super regional had dissipated, and the lady Wolverines were back to being their jovial, confident selves. What will face them in the coming week, they can handle.

    They’ve already beaten their first-round opponent Alabama twice this season, in Tuscaloosa at that. And while top-ranked Florida defeated them 2-1 and 7-4, the games were close, and nearly three months have passed since then.

    This may be the same team the Gators faced, but one far more sure of themselves. In fact, this may be the best team Hutchins has had at Michigan— and that includes the team who won it all in 2005. Having exorcised last year’s playoff demons, they have nothing and no one left to fear.

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    Written by GBMWolverine Writer — Chris Hill

    Go Blue — Wear Maize!