May 22, 2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After heavy rains forced an overnight delay, the No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team surged for three runs in the bottom of the sixth to bring an abbreviated 11-2 ending to its NCAA Regional opener against Wright State on Saturday morning (May 22) in front of 1,863 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field. U-M will now face Notre Dame at 1 p.m. Saturday for a spot in Sunday's (May 23) final.

Following run-scoring sacrifice bunt with one out in the frame, junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) crushed a two-run homer into the baseball field in straightaway centerfield to bring an immediate end to the game. The long ball was Shaw's second of the game and 20th of the season; she is just one shy of the Michigan single-season record in the category.

Shaw was one of four Wolverines with multiple hits in the contest. Senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) went 2-for-3 and drove in a run on the sixth-inning sacrifice, while sophomore leftfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) and senior centerfielder Molly Bausher (Las Vegas, Nev./Spring Valley HS) tallied two hits and a run batted in apiece from the No. 1 and No. 9 spots, respectively.

Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) earned the decision from the circle, striking out four Raider batters, while allowing seven hits and a pair of earned runs. She improved to 21-3 on the season.

After giving up the initial lead for just the 12th time this season, the Wolverines responded with a big third inning, using five hits, three walks and a pair of illegal pitches to manufacture eight runs and secure the advantage for good. The illegal-pitch calls followed a 34-minute rain delay and subsequent pitching change, and they knotted up the score at two runs apiece. Shaw made those calls moot in the next at-bat, knocking out a two-run homer into the grandstand behind right-centerfield.

The Wolverines accepted back-to-back walks to quickly put runners on before sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield, Ill./Central HS) doubled down the leftfield line, tucking a well-placed ball just inside the bag before it skipped into the corner. Bausher registered her second infield single of the inning in the next at-bat, chopping the ball high just in front of the plate and pulling safely into first by the time the WSU catcher came up with it. Kirkpatrick scored on a subsequent wild pitch before Evans drove in the final run in the frame with an RBI single up the middle, scoring Bausher from third base.

The Raiders manufactured the game's first advantage in the top half of the inning, using three hits to push a pair of runs across with two outs. Catcher Briuna Birl initiated the rally with a bunt single before advancing on a stolen base and coming home when third baseman Louie Haney chopped an RBI single up the middle. First baseman China Frost sliced an RBI triple down the leftfield in next at-bat; it was just the second three-bagger allowed by Nemitz this season.