May 30, 2009

Courtesy: mgoblue.com

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Despite a quick start and late surge, the No. 7-ranked University of Michigan softball team could not complete the comeback, falling to sixth-seeded Georgia, 7-5, in the loser's bracket of the Women's College World Series on Saturday evening (May 30) at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

The Wolverines were doomed by a WCWS-record four home runs as Georgia went long in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings to account for six of its seven runs. Junior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits through the game's opening two frames. Sophomore RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) entered with two on and no outs in the third, striking out five while giving up a pair of solo home runs.

Junior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) knocked out a home run of her own to highlight a season-best 3-for-3 effort from the plate. The U-M backstop was just a triple shy of the cycle. The Wolverines combined for 10 hits in the game -- their 17th double-digit hit tally of the season -- spreading the load among eight different players.

The Wolverines used a two-out rally to take control in the top of the first, stringing together a walk and three straight hits to establish the early 3-0 lead. After freshman designated player Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) initiated the rally with a five-pitch walk, St. Clair connected with the 0-1 pitch and bombed it over the leftfield fence for her first home run in 20 games.

Junior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) kept the rally going with a low chopper through the right side, and Nemitz sent her home in the next at bat, launching a deep fly to the wall in right centerfield. Nemitz tried for more and was thrown out at second base, but not before Viefhaus crossed home plate for the inning's third tally.

Georgia quickly cut the gap as centerfielder Taylor Schlopy, after taking a first-pitch called strike, made good on the second, knocking a leadoff solo home run over the fence in leftfield. Nemitz settled in after the long ball, requiring just nine pitches to retire the next three batters.

Schlopy repeated the feat in her next turn at the plate, using a three-run blast in the second to provide Georgia its first advantage of the contest. The home run capped a four-hit, four-run inning for the Bulldogs. Second baseman Ashley Pauly drove in the frame's first tally on a shallow poke to rightfield before, two batters later, Schlopy connected with the 1-1 pitch and knocked it over the leftfield fence.

Georgia used another home-run ball to pad its advantage to three runs, 6-3, in the home half of the fourth as Pauly knocked a full-count leadoff shot over the rightfield fence. Taylor fanned the next two Bulldog hitters on eight pitches before forcing a groundout to get out of the inning.

The Wolverines chipped away at the deficit with two runs in the fifth. Freshman outfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) keyed the rally with one down, smacking a liner up the middle before advancing to second base on Hamilton's fifth illegal pitch called in the contest. The extra base paid off for the Wolverines when junior rightfielder Angela Findlay's (Lockport, Ill./East HS) standup double to the wall in left center, which appeared to be headed out until Georgia leftfielder Megan Wiggins got her glove on it, allowed the speedy Evans to round third and come home. St. Clair drove a run-scoring single up the middle in the next at bat, sending a high chopper over Hamilton's head to score Findlay from second base and pull U-M within one run, 6-5.

Georgia reestablished its two-run advantage with first baseman Brianna Hesson's leadoff homer in the home half of the sixth, and despite putting the tying run at the plate in the seventh -- after a Chidester single to shallow left center -- the Wolverines could not overcome the deficit.

Michigan wraps the season with a 47-12 record, sharing the nation's fifth spot with its 1-2 mark at the WCWS. It was U-M's ninth appearance at the prestigious national event.