Lane's two-run homer in eighth lifts Michigan past Louisiana Lafayette
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Senior Ashley Lane got a shot at redemption following a dropped foul ball by the visiting team in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday and promptly hit a two-run game-winning home run to lift No. 7 Michigan to a 4-3 win against Louisiana Lafayette in Game 1 of the super regional held at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field. The win marked the 1,300th victory at Michigan for head coach Carol Hutchins, who has 1,323 total wins, including 23 at Ferris State in 1982.
Lane popped the first pitch she saw into foul territory along the first base line, but it was dropped by ULL's first baseman. Michigan trailed 3-2 after losing its lead with two outs in the top of the seventh inning but put its first runner on in the eighth, when junior Caitlin Blanchard was hit by a pitch.
One pitch after the dropped foul ball, Lane smoked a line-drive home run over the leftfield wall. It is Michigan's first walk-off victory via the home run this season.
Starting pitcher Sara Driesenga had shut the Cajuns out through 6.2 innings. Louisiana Lafayette was down to its final out in the top of the seventh and in a 2-0 hole. Then Nerissa Meyers singled, and two pitches later Brianna Cherry blasted a game-tying homer.
Michigan could not come up with a run in the bottom of the seventh. The Ragin' Cajuns wasted no time in their half of the eighth, getting a leadoff homer. It was the first time the Wolverines had trailed in the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore left-hander Haylie Wagner relieved Driesenga and got the final two outs of the eighth.
The Wolverines were in control until the seventh inning. Freshman Sierra Lawrence sent a jolt through the crowd of 1,530 when she cut down a Ragin' Cajun runner at home to end the first inning. ULL's leadoff hitter, Myers, walked to start the inning and eventually made it to third on an error and a fly ball. On a fly into foul territory, Lawrence camped under it, caught it and fired home to nail Myers.
The Maize and Blue got on the board in the first on three hits. Junior Lyndsay Doyle led off with a hit, her seventh in four postseason games, and scored on a double by freshman Sierra Romero. Miscommunication between Louisiana's centerfielder and right fielder allowed the ball to drop in and Doyle to score. Romero sped around first to second and got into scoring position for Blanchard, who laced a single along the leftfield line to score Romero. The Wolverines led 2-0 after one inning, scoring twice on a Louisiana team that did not give up a run in the regional round.
Driesenga allowed three hits through the first six. U-M displayed some fine defense in that span. Junior Nicole Sappingfield pulled back a would-be home run. Sappingfield brought it back from over the fence but was not able to hang on, leading to a long single for the Ragin' Cajuns. Then with runners on second and third, Blanchard made a diving stop on a ground ball to get the Wolverines out of the inning with the 2-0 lead.
Wagner picked up the win for her 0.2 innings of relief. She got one strike out and did not allow a hit. Driesenga pitched 7.1 innings and scattered nine hits. She struck out five and walked three, giving up three runs on the two home runs.