Michigan combines for 10 homers in two wins against Arizona State, Toledo
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Third-ranked Michigan went yard 10 times to open the ASU Louisville Slugger Invitational with pair of wins, defeating Toledo 20-5 in five innings, and No. 21 host Arizona State 7-5 on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 28) at the Sun Devils' Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium. The Wolverines pushed their win streak to 15 games.
Junior center fielder Sierra Lawrence and junior right fielder Kelsey Susalla headlined the Wolverines' explosive offense with near-perfect days at the plate; Lawrence went 5-for-6 with three home runs and six RBI from the leadoff spot, while Susalla hit 6-for-7 with three doubles, a home run and six RBI. Thirteen different Wolverines earned at least one hit on the day, while seven hit a home run.
Senior LHP Haylie Wagner (5-1) struck out a season-best nine batters against Toledo in the tournament opener, allowing four hits and just one earned run. Sophomore RHP Megan Betsa (6-0) earned the win in the nightcap, fanning six while allowing six hits, five walks and four earned runs. Wagner entered with one down and the tying run on deck in the seventh and forced the final two outs to secure her second save of the season.
After Arizona State used a controversial RBI double -- that appeared to be caught by Lawrence on the track -- to even the score at three apiece in the bottom of the fifth, the Wolverines blew open the game with a four-run sixth. Sophomore shortstop Abby Ramirez initiated the two-out rally with a bouncing RBI single up the middle from the bottom of the order. Lawrence took the next pitch deep over the wall in left-center field to tack on two more runs, and after sophomore left fielder Kelly Christner's right-side single forced RHP Dale Ryndak from the game, U-M registered two more base hits, including another RBI single through the right side from freshman first baseman Tera Blanco.
ASU first baseman Bethany Kemp hit a leadoff homer to left field in the home half of the inning before Betsa set down the next three in order, using just eight pitches to force a flyout and back-to-back strikeouts.
The Sun Devils loaded the bases with one out to threaten again in the bottom of the seventh. U-M sacrificed a run on a fielder's choice, opting to throw out the runner at second, and did it again on an infield grounder just three pitches later to earn the final out.
Michigan knocked out a program-record seven home runs -- six in the first inning -- en route to its commanding run-rule win against Toledo in its tournament opener. The Wolverines batted around twice to score 15 runs in the top of the first -- the most first-inning runs in NCAA Division I history -- on 11 hits, four walks and two hit batters. Michigan's first 11 batters reached base.
Lawrence belted out two homers in the inning, leading off the game with a solo shot to deep center field -- her first long ball of the season. Junior shortstop Sierra Romero and Susalla also homered -- for a combined five runs -- to force a Rocket pitching change, but Falk smacked the next pitch deep over the right-field wall. Back-to-back walks put two Wolverines aboard for Lawrence, who bombed out the 0-1 pitch to up U-M's lead to 10-0 before the first out.
Christner singled to force another Toledo pitching change, and after a hit batter and back-to-back outs, Susalla reignited the Wolverine surge with a two-run double to right field. A 10-pitch freshman Aidan Falk walk put two on for freshman pinch hitter Taylor Swearingen, who bombed out a three-run moonshot over the right-center field wall.
The Wolverines added three runs in the second frame and one apiece in the third and fourth. Richvalsky drove in a pair of runs on two hits -- the first of her collegiate career-- including an RBI triple in the third. Swearingen closed out Michigan's scoring with her second home run of the game -- a solo shot to right-center field in the fourth.