Big 10

Needing 2 wins in 12 hours, Michigan faces plenty of questions in WCWS

June 4, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY — The frustration was abundantly clear.

Coming directly from the field to a postgame press conference, Michigan’s answers were short and bittersweet. The Wolverines lost to Oklahoma, 7-5, on Saturday night and now their proverbial backs are against a very large wall in the Women’s College World Series.

“I was disappointed,” coach Carol Hutchins said. “I did not think we were ready to play, and I didn’t think our approach was good from the get-go.”

Against the Sooners, Michigan fell behind early, took too much time to get cooking on offense and didn’t make enough plays in the field or at the plate.

As a result, Hutchins’ team will have to play their second and third games in a 24-hour span to stay alive. The Wolverines are looking to return to the championship series for a second straight year.

That will be exceedingly difficult. Having left ASA Hall of Fame Stadium at roughly 12:15 a.m. local time after Saturday’s loss, the Wolverines (52-6) will face No. 7 Florida State (54-9) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in an elimination game.

If they survive, a matchup with No. 4 Auburn will await at 6 p.m. CT in the WCWS semifinals.

“I mean, we’ve just got to get home, get some sleep,” Michigan’s Sierra Romero said Saturday. “We’re not out of it yet.”

Speaking of the importance of Saturday night’s game, even Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso had to lament, “I don’t think either team really deserves to come back at noon.”

But Michigan will and it remains to be seen what Hutchins will do at the mound. Against the Sooners, junior Megan Betsa (28-4) allowed seven runs (five earned) on six hits and six walks.

Much of the damage came early, as Betsa hit a batter with her first pitch of the game and then allowed three first-inning runs.

“I didn’t have my best stuff and we never really recovered from that first inning, and that
was my bad,” Betsa said. “I didn’t come out and have my best stuff and I should have.”

Hutchins stuck with Betsa through the troubles before pulling her with two outs remaining in the seventh. Sara Driesenga finished things out.

Asked if Betsa will start Sunday first game, Hutchin replied, “I’m just going to deal with this team right now, and we’ll recover from that and we’ll see. I’m sure we’re going to need
everybody tomorrow.”

For Michigan to turnaround Sunday and rally, hitting will have to accompany solid pitching. Against Oklahoma, the Wolverines stranded 10 runners and rarely appeared aggressive at the plate.

Hutchins took the blame.

“I think we were focused on them and we’re (supposed to) focus on Michigan,” Hutchins said. “That’s when we’re good, but I think we were focused on (Oklahoma). That’s what it appeared from the dugout, so it’s on me.”

At the same time, Hutchins was perplexed all night by timid Michigan bats. The Wolverines struck out seven times, including four times looking.

“We needed to swing,” Hutchins said. “The game plan was to swing, and we took a lot of the pitches that we needed to swing at. I thought we could be better, and we took some good cuts. We had some — we hit the ball well at times, but we also were timid at times, and you can’t take a pitch off in a game like this.”

Michigan will look to awaken the bats early Sunday morning.

— Download the Michigan football on MLive app for iPhone and Android
— Download the Michigan basketball on MLive app for iPhone and Android
— Follow MLive’s Michigan coverage on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
— Subscribe to “The Wolverine Beat” podcast on iTunes

Read Full Article