OKLAHOMA CITY -- When times are good, being a catcher can be rather low-key. When the pitcher's humming along striking out batter by batter and the offense is putting up runs, the catcher can just blend into the background.
But it's when times are rough and the team is showing signs of fracture that a good catcher has to step to the forefront and display total confidence that everything will turn out OK.
For Michigan senior Lauren Sweet, that moment came late Friday night at ASA Hall Of Fame Stadium. With her team down 3-0 and starting pitcher Megan Betsa not making it out of the first inning, Sweet made sure her squad didn't forget who they were.
“There really wasn't any worry,” Sweet said. “We know we score a ton of runs and know we can come back. So we just need to trust ourselves and trust our pitchers.”
The Wolverines scrapped and clawed their way back from a three-run deficit to defeat UCLA 10-4 and remain undefeated in the Women's College World Series.There were several heroes for the Wolverines (58-6). Haylie Wagner came off the bench to pick up the victory. Kelsey Susalia collected four hits and three RBIs. Sierra Lawrence made a diving catch in center field that helped shut down a scoring opportunity for the Bruins.
One look at Sweet's box score and it doesn't scream dominant. She posted three walks and a hit.
But it was Sweet's ability to inject confidence into the lineup that may have been the biggest reason for the comeback victory.
“Really it's my job to keep the pitchers up out there,” Sweet said. “I think really just keeping ourselves calm and believing in ourselves. I think that's been the key for us.”
For the second consecutive night, Sweet did what was needed to help her team pick up the win. Against Alabama on Thursday, she blasted a grand slam that sunk the Tide. It was a feat that was not expected from the 5-foot-5 catcher.
"Playing on the biggest stage here is so awesome," Sweet said. "To do that here is obviously really cool. I'm just trying to help my team out as much as I can. The World Series is my dream, and I've got here, and I think it's awesome that could happen here."
In her final year with Michigan, Sweet put together her best year. She has tallied 12 homers, 56 RBIs and is batting a career-high .325.
“Sweet has just been a fantastic player for this team and a team player her entire career,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “And she's having her best season as a senior. And you love to see that. And it's what we need. We need your seniors to be the leaders out there. And she's just been fantastic all year long. And we just want her to keep playing as long as possible."
The Wolverines won't play again until Sunday. One more win and they will have earned the right to play for a title. To claim Michigan's first title since the 2005 team would be the perfect swan song for sweet.
"Coming in here as a senior it's really awesome,” Sweet said. “Just being able to be that leader out there, just being able to help my team any way I can. It's been great.”