Michigan 5, Seton Hall 0

May 21, 2005

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Junior Jennie Ritter fanned nine batters to break the single-season strikeout record and move the No. 1 University of Michigan softball team a step closer to advancing to an NCAA Super Regional with a 5-0 shutout victory over Seton Hall in the NCAA Regional winners' bracket final on Saturday (May 21) at Alumni Field. The Wolverines notched their 11th consecutive win while snapping a six-game Seton Hall winning streak.

Ritter upped her season strikeout total to 321 and passed Marissa Young (319) for the top spot on Michigan's single-season list. The junior ace settled in after giving up a hit to the Pirates' leadoff batter in the first inning and got stronger as the game wore on with six of her strikeouts coming in the last four frames. The shutout was the 15th for Ritter this season.

After allowing only six home runs through 37 appearances this season, Seton Hall pitcher Megan Meyer gave up a pair of solo shots against seniors Jessica Merchant and Nicole Motycka in the opening two innings to give the Wolverines only advantage they would need. Merchant added to her own single-season home run record with a blast high over the leftfield fence for her 21st knock of the year, while Motycka tallied her 12th, mirroring the earlier shot by her teammate and sending a shot over the leftfield fence.

Meyer stifled the remaining U-M lineup, earning nine strikeouts on 14 batters faced, including seven of the last eight. Like Ritter, the Pirate ace broke her school's single-season strikeout record early in the first inning against freshman Alessandra Giampaolo and brought her season total to 251. The Wolverines took advantage of a Seton Hall pitching change at the start of the fifth inning to break open the contest, registering four hits and earning a trio of runs on a two-out rally to extend their advantage to 5-0. With junior Stephanie Bercaw planted on second base, senior Tiffany Haas lifted a solid hit to centerfield to drive home the run and advanced to second on the throw. Giampaolo sent another line drive into center, and Haas turned the corner to beat out the tag at home plate. After advancing to second base on a hit batsman, Giampaolo crossed the plate herself following a strong single to leftfield by freshman Samantha Findlay.

Michigan (57-4) will await the winner of this evening's Game 5 in the final of the NCAA Softball Regional 1 on Sunday (May 22) at 1 p.m., while Seton Hall (34-14) will take on winner of North Carolina/Canisius tonight at 6 p.m. All games will be held at Michigan's Alumni Field.

Q U O T E S

Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins

On the game ... "I told my players that that's a good win against a good team. The key to beating a pitcher like Megan Meyer is playing good defense. You got to keep them from scoring before you find a way to do it. [Meyer] was outstanding. I've never seen her pitch but I've heard a lot about her. I'm pleased, though. We pitched well. We played good defense. We got some things to go our way. Jessica (Merchant) got ahold of it, and Nicole got ahold of it and that's a very important way to start."

On the decision to leave Jennie Ritter in with a 5-0 lead ... "Well, I thought about it a little bit. She threw seven (innings) today and five yesterday. She wasn't in a good rhythm early on, but she got better as she went. This time of year it is important that she's confident. These kids have thrown so many innings. They've played three to five games a day in summer ball. But it was only one game today, so I was pretty confident that those two innings weren't going to make a difference."

Michigan Freshman Centerfielder Alessandra Giampaolo

On facing Megan Meyer ... "I'm a sucker for high pitches, and in my first at-bat she threw me six and I swung at all of them. I had to come back and beat her the next time. I still swung at the high pitch, but I actually hit it that time." On the lack of offense early on ... "I think we were too anxious. We were all looking to hit the ball as hard as we can, and when the pitch rose we couldn't get ahold of it."

Michigan Junior Pitcher Jennie Ritter

On the start ... "There were a couple innings where I kind of had a break in my rhythm. It's just focusing on getting back into it."

Seton Hall Head Coach Ray Vander May

On the game ... "[Michigan] scores with their power -- you've got to shut them down by moving the ball around in the zone and changing speeds. I think today Megan Meyer did not have a good changeup and that hurt her a little bit. They've got a great pitcher -- they move the ball around well and [Ritter] definitely had good movement.

On the decision to take out Megan Meyer ... "Part of the decision to take her out was that we'll need her later on. It was tough decision because if we keep her in, will we come back and score some runs. We didn't, so I don't feel bad."

N O T E S
" U-M senior shortstop Jessica Merchant made her 241st career start, which ties her for fifth on the school's all-time list with Kellyn Tate.
" U-M junior second basemen Tiffany Haas scored her 150th career run, which is tied for fourth all-time at Michigan with Catherine Davie.
" Senior designated hitter Nicole Motycka's home run gives her 19 for her career, tying her for seventh on U-M's all-time list with Catherine Davie and teammate Samantha Findlay.
" Seton Hall pitcher Megan Meyer was the first lefty starter the Wolverines faced all year.
" Michigan's win vs. Seton Hall was its 11th in a row.
" With the loss, Seton Hall is now 1-4 against ranked teams this season.
" It was the fourth time this season that Seton Hall has been shut out.
" Seton Hall was riding a six-game winning streak heading into the game, its second longest of the season.

-- Courtesy Michigan