May 23, 2009

From Michigan Athletics

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Rallying back from an early deficit, the No. 7-ranked University of Michigan softball team claimed a decisive 7-1 victory over Baylor in game two of the NCAA Super Regional on Saturday afternoon (May 23) at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. The victory earned Michigan the series sweep and a trip to the 2009 Women's College World Series.

Sophomore RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) tossed a gem from the pitching circle, allowing one run off five hits while striking out 13 Baylor batters -- her sixth double-digit strikeout performance in as many starts. The Wolverine hurler, who improved to 19-5 on the season, dominated the late innings, striking out six straight between the fourth and sixth innings and set down the side in the latter two.

Junior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./Lockport East HS) propelled the Wolverines at the plate, going 2-for-5 with two doubles, three runs batted in and a pair of runs scored. Junior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) and junior designated player Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) drove in a pair of runs apiece, while senior shortstop Teddi Ewing (Olathe, Kan./East HS) -- in her final appearance at Alumni Field -- recorded her third multi-hit effort of the season with a 2-for-4 day.

The Bears went long to claim the game's initial advantage. With one down in the home half of the second, catcher Courtney Oberg connected on the first pitch she saw and sailed it high over the leftfield fence. Freshman leftfielder Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) and freshman centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) converged on the ball to make a leap for it, but neither could get a glove on the ball.

Michigan's deafening rebuttal came immediately as the Wolverines scored seven runs during the third and fourth frames to jump to a six run advantage, 7-1. All nine U-M hitters reached the plate in the former inning, using five hits and an error to push four runs across. Ewing and Evans reached on a grounder up the middle and a throwing error, respectively, to open the inning and put some speed on the corners for the Maize and Blue. Following suit, Findlay roped a first-pitch double to left center to drive in Ewing, and St. Clair responded with an RBI double of her own two batters later, driving a deep fly ball to the track in leftfield. Nemitz then laced another double up the middle, bringing home St. Clair and Findlay to grant Michigan the upper hand, 4-1.

Ewing kicked off another explosive turn at the plate for the Wolverines in the fourth, emerging from an extended at bat, which featured five foul tips, with a looper into leftfield. Evans slapped a double over the head of Baylor shortstop Bree Hanafin, and Findlay responded in kind, glancing a first-pitch liner off Hanafin's glove to drive home both baserunners. The U-M captain advanced on a wild pitch, placing her just 60 feet from home plate, and the Wolverines capitalized as St. Clair laid down a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze, allowing Findlay to race home and slide past the tag to cap the contest's scoring.

Baylor threatened in the home half of the fourth, putting two on base with no outs after a leadoff walk and subsequent liner to left centerfield. Taylor and the Wolverines got out of the jam quickly, using a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to get the lead runner at third before striking out Baylor pinch hitter Sydney Wilson on five pitches.

Taylor needed just 11 pitches to strike out the side in the fifth inning and, after allowing a pair of Baylor baserunners with one out in the sixth, earned back-to-back Ks to get out of the jam. Baylor put one more runner on base with two down in the seventh -- on a double to right center -- but U-M fielded an easy groundout to second base to extend its postseason.

Michigan opens play at the Women's College World Series against No. 4 seed Alabama (52-9) on Thursday (May 28) at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. Specific games times will be announced upon the conclusion of NCAA Super Regional play tomorrow (Sunday, May 24).