May 23, 2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Sophomore first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) knocked out three home runs, tying a program single-game record, to lead the No. 7-ranked University of Michigan softball team to a dominant 8-1 victory over Baylor in game one of the NCAA Super Regional on Friday evening (May 22) in front of 1,255 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.

Shaw's home runs, coming off of three different Baylor pitchers, mark her second multi-homer effort in NCAA Tournament play this season; she knocked out a pair in back-to-back plate appearances against Miami last Saturday (May 16). The first baseman's five dingers and 10 runs batted in during postseason play currently lead all U-M batters.

Freshman leftfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) remained hot at the plate, recording a 3-for-4 offensive effort for the second consecutive game, while junior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) went 2-for-4 from the plate for her third multi-hit game in postseason play. Nemitz also earned the complete-game win, striking out eight and allowing one run.

The Wolverines struck quickly, manufacturing runs in each of the opening three innings to build an early 3-0 cushion. U-M used small ball to claim the first tally, stringing together a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly to claim the opening advantage.

Evans reached on the contest's first pitch, slapping a high chopper just inches in front of the plate. By the time Baylor third baseman Brette Reagan fielded the ball, Evans was pulling into first base. The Wolverine rookie advanced to third base on a rope to right center by junior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./Lockport East HS) before freshman designated player Amanda Chidester's (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) deep fly ball, which forced BU leftfielder Tiffany Wesley to sprint into left center, allowed Evans to tag up and head home.

Shaw picked up her first of three long balls with one down in the second, catching just a piece of the 2-2 pitch off the end of her bat to sail it deep over the leftfield fence. The Wolverine first baseman earned another RBI in the subsequent when -- just a pitch after clanging a towering foul ball off the U-M Indoor Track Building -- she accepted a full-count, bases-loaded walk to up Michigan's lead to three.

The Bears collected their first base hit of the game in the third inning as second baseman Meagan Weldon drove a liner just fair down the leftfield line, but the Wolverines responded by turning their second double play in NCAA Tournament action. Freshman second baseman Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield, Ill./Central HS) fielded the grounder off the bat of designated player Jordan Vannatta and tagged out Weldon on the basepath before throwing out the Baylor batter at first.

Baylor got on the board in the fourth with back-to-back hits to lead off the inning -- Tiffany Wesley's ground-rule double and shortstop Bree Hanafin's subsequent RBI rope to rightfield. Nemitz retired the next three Baylor hitters in order with a pair of strikeouts, including an inning-ending, full-count ring up, and did not allow another hit the rest of the way.

The Wolverines tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, widening the gap to four runs, 5-1. Shaw's power victimized the Baylor pitching staff again as she blasted a full-count delivery into the bleachers in right center to drive in Nemitz.

Closing out the contest, U-M boosted the lead to seven runs, 8-1, with an additional three runs off two homers in the team's final turn at the plate. Junior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) led off the inning with a long ball deep to right center, and Shaw blasted her third home run of the slate over the centerfield wall with a runner on to bring in the game's final two tallies.

Nemitz sealed the victory in the top of the seventh with a 1-2-3 finish, freezing the final batter to record her eighth strikeout.

Michigan hosts Baylor again tomorrow afternoon (Saturday, May 23) at 2:30 p.m. at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. With a 1-0 series lead, a Wolverine victory would send the squad to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., for the first time since claiming the national championship in 2005, while a Bears win would force a third game that would begin shortly after the completion of game two.