May 23, 2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team knocked out three home runs, including two by senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS), to cruise past No. 24 Notre Dame, clinching its seventh consecutive NCAA Regional title with a 12-2 decision on Sunday afternoon (May 23) in front of 2,267 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.

In a rematch of the 2006 event, the Wolverines (49-6) will host Tennessee, the winner of the Region 15 championship series, in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional. Specific days and game times will be announced on Sunday evening.

Viefhaus paced the U-M offense with her second career multi-homer effort, combining for four runs-batted in. Senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) also went deep for the Wolverines -- in the seventh inning -- as part of a 3-for-4, four-RBI day from the plate. Sophomore leftfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) and sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) recorded two hits apiece.

Junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) earned her second weekend win over the Fighting Irish, improving to 26-3 on the season with a seven-hit, two-run performance from the pitching circle. Taylor fanned 11 Notre Dame batters -- her 16th double-digit strikeout tally of the year -- and closed out the game with five scoreless innings.

The two teams traded a pair of two-out solo home runs in the first inning. Viefhaus tallied Michigan's blast, connecting with the 2-0 pitch and crushing it into the rightfield grandstand before Irish third baseman Heather Johnson responded in the bottom half, sending a first-pitch bomb high into the trees beyond left centerfield.

Notre Dame claimed a temporary advantage, manufacturing a run off of three hits in the second, before the Wolverines exploded for 11 runs over the final five frames, including three apiece in the third, fourth and seventh. After going deep for one run in the first inning, Viefhaus knocked out a three-run shot in her next at-bat in the third, driving the 2-2 pitch -- a changeup -- to a familiar spot in the bleachers beyond rightfield. It was Viefhaus' third long ball of the weekend and 20th of the season.

The Wolverines added three more runs off of three hits and a pair of walks in the fourth inning. After back-to-back infield singles from senior centerfielder Molly Bausher (Las Vegas, Nev./Spring Valley HS) and Evans led off the inning and put two aboard, Michigan accepted consecutive walks -- on just 10 pitches -- to push across a run. With the bases still loaded for Chidester in the next at-bat, the Wolverine second baseman took the 2-2 pitch and lofted a two-run single into shallow centerfield.

U-M took advantage of a couple free passes to score runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Bausher took a four-pitch walk, stole second and came home on a Findlay RBI single to shallow leftfield in the former frame, while Shaw, who reached via her fifth hit-by-pitch in five games -- raced home from third on a Kirkpatrick run-scoring groundout in the latter.

The Wolverines used St. Clair's long ball to wrap up scoring in the seventh inning. Evans led off the frame with an infield single and after a Viefhaus walk -- her third in a row following her two homers -- St. Clair lined the 1-1 pitch out of the park down the rightfield line.

Tickets for the NCAA Super Regional will go on sale through the U-M Athletic Ticket Office at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday (May 25) for season ticket holders and at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday (May 26) for the general public. Admission for each day of the event is $10 for reserved grandstand chairback seating, $9 for reserved grandstand bleacher seats, $7 for outfield bleachers and $5 for students and seniors. All tickets must be picked up in person. Ticket will call on game days will be located near the Wilpon Complex scoreboard at the entrance gate near the U-M Indoor Track Building.