Michigan Wolverine Softball: Advances to WCWS Championship


Michigan Softball Posted at 5:00pm — -6/1/2015

Michigan Wolverine Softball: Advances to WCWS Championship

Good Teams Find A Way

An old coaching axiom goes like this: “Find a way to win.” Michigan found a way to defeat another SEC team, Louisiana State University, 6-3 Sunday. This sets up the best two of three series that will start Monday evening. The Wolverines will face the odds on favorite, SEC member Florida. Like Michigan, Florida had a tough test to earn a championship berth, beating Auburn in extra innings.

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The season has been long and now mental toughness, focus, and energy are commodities that each team values to the maximum. The prize awaiting is big and so should be the motivation. Playing on the ultimate stage can be uber exciting or pure scary. Coaches want the warriors on the field who can quickly forget minor mishaps and play on with courage, and eventually persevere by finding a way to win.

The biggest surprise of the tourney was the number two seed, Oregon Ducks flying home, with little but the honor of being in the tourney. Every team showed plenty of fight and ability to hang tough. Auburn, LSU, and Alabama appeared to be relatively even, and none went quietly into the night. UCLA had some impressive hitters, but eventually went down fighting due to lack of mound depth.

Michigan’s way to win was two fold: (1) have a big offensive inning and (2) find the pitcher that wants the ball the most and is willing to fiercely compete.

Megan Betsa had a good first inning, but after that walked batters, hit batters, and got the ball into spots friendly enough for hitters to slap and hit into holes. Coach Hutch gave her as much rope as possible, but again had to go Haylie Wagner. And again Wagner came through slamming the door on LSU’s offense.

Coach Hutchin’s comments on TV were telling and to this observer completely accurate. Essentially, Coach stated that Haylie wanted the ball and wanted to pitch.

LSU had a heater on the mound in Carley Hoover. Anytime the ball comes in at 70 miles per hour, hitters will be challenged to make good contact. Hoover had good control and challenged Michigan’s best hitters.

Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines /

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan scored the first run on a familiar happening, a home run by Sierra Romero. Then, every other run Michigan scored was produced by good offensive execution. The big moment was when leadoff hitter, Sierra Lawrence, who had been struggling, finally created a big moment by hitting a hard ground ball past the pulled in LSU third baseman and sliced it over the front edge of third base. This is by definition a fair ball, even if the ball touches foul past the base on the next bounce. It was less than humorous to hear a not-so-illustrious attempt by the lead announcer to turn Lawrence’s shot into a foul ball. But after being corrected by one expert commentator and reading verbatim the rulebook, the primary announcer relented.

Michigan then executed one of the classic plays in baseball/ softball, the first and third steal situation with two outs. There are many ways to do the first and third steal offense. A team can run and stop two thirds of the way to second drawing a throw, or in baseball, the runner can get picked off (accidentally on purpose), or in baseball after a walk the runner just keeps going and never stops at first. In baseball the runner can also take off early, as the pitcher is coming set. The key is to get into a rundown to score the run from third and give up the out with the runner at first. There are two times that are ideal to send the runner from third: (1) when the ball travels between first and second, or (2) when the first baseman holds possession of the ball, is turned sideways, and is pursuing the runner between first and second.

The play worked to Michigan’s advantage.

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  • There were difficulties, there almost always are. Michigan bunted the ball too hard twice, creating more difficulty for offensive execution. LSU gambled a little by going to second getting two close outs. Megan Betsa needs to get off the mound and get everything she can, bunts or balls slightly off to the side. The Michigan hitters were again impatient with the high pitch and got under a bunch of balls early in the game.

    But in this time at bat, Sierra Lawrence was clearly looking for an inside pitch and kept her hands in close, opened the hips, and drilled the game winning shot. It was good to see her have this success. Michigan is a real difficult offense to handle when she is in the grove.

    Michigan fans hope this was the start of a well-timed groove.

    Fun? Oh, Yeah, it is now really fun. These girls will remember this for a lifetime; this is the pinnacle of competition and experience, playing for a national title. Michigan does not have to play perfect, but probably a little better than Sunday’s effort

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    Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

    Go Blue — Wear Maize!