TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Headlined by extra-base hits and commanding performances from the pitching circle, No. 8 Michigan softball team earned a pair of run-rule shutouts, cruising past Western Kentucky 8-0 and Georgia Tech 10-0 in five innings on the first day of competition at the Unconquered Invitational on Friday at JoAnne Graf Field.
Senior LHP Haylie Wagner tossed a complete-game one-hit shutout in the tournament opener against Western Kentucky, striking out seven while allowing just three total base runners -- none past the second inning. Sophomore RHP Megan Betsa picked up her second win of the year against Georgia Tech, striking out 12 and combining for the shutout with senior RHP Sara Driesenga, who earned the final three outs in the fifth. The Wolverine pitching staff allowed just three hits through 10 innings of play.
Senior catcher Lauren Sweet went 2-for-4 on the day with a first-inning grand slam and five RBI in the second slate against Georgia Tech, while four Wolverines tallied extra-base hits in the opener, including freshman first baseman Tera Blanco, who registered a three-run double as part of a 2-for-3, four-RBI effort against the Hilltoppers. Sophomore leftfielder Kelly Christner also recorded a pair of hits against Western Kentucky, including an RBI triple in her first trip to the plate.
Michigan tallied runs in four of five innings against Western Kentucky. After her first-inning triple, Christner initiated another Wolverine surge in the third with a leadoff single up the middle. She stole second base to move into scoring position and scored when Blanco ripped a single into right centerfield for her first collegiate RBI. Junior rightfielder Kelsey Susalla followed with another RBI single in the next at-bat.
Blanco added three more RBI in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded on a leadoff double from junior centerfielder Sierra Lawrence and back-to-back Wolverine walks, Blanco connected with the 0-2 pitch and sent it down the rightfield line for her first collegiate double.
The Wolverines added another run on a Wagner RBI double in the fifth before Lawrence ended the game two batters later on a RBI fielder's choice, poking a grounder to the left side to score Abby Ramirez from third.
Michigan carried the momentum into the second slate, scoring half of its runs in the opening frame. Georgia Tech walked three of four batters to start the game, loading the bases for freshman Aidan Falk, who was hit by a pitch to bring home the Wolverines' first run. Sweet belted out her second career grand slam in the next at-bat, driving the 1-2 pitch over the fence in deep centerfield.
Michigan manufactured five more runs off five hits and two walks in the top of the third. Falk doubled to leftfield before advancing on a passed ball and scoring on a Sweet RBI single to rightfield. The Yellow Jackets earned their second out, but U-M maintained the momentum, loading the bases before earning a pair of two-run singles from Lawrence and junior shortstop Sierra Romero.
The Wolverines will square off against host Florida State twice on Saturday, in the second day of competition at the Unconquered Invitational. The doubleheader is slated to begin at 4 p.m. at JoAnne Graf Field.