- Erin Kirkland/Daily
By Colleen Thomas, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 21, 2012
Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins hasn't been impressed with her team’s offense over the past couple of weeks.
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But Hutchins was pleased Wednesday night, as the Wolverines recorded eight hits — the first time since Feb. 25 — against Eastern Michigan (9-15 overall) in their home opener.
Senior first baseman Amanda Chidester hit her fifth career grand slam, senior center fielder Bree Evans went 2-for-3 with two hits and an RBI, and No. 20 Michigan (18-9) won in convincing fashion, 10-2 in five innings.
“I thought it was a team effort, because it was everybody — it wasn’t just one person getting a big hit,” Hutchins said. “(Chidester) doesn’t get a grand slam without runners on base.
“Having base runners tonight was my favorite part of the game.”
The Wolverines had previously struggled to capitalize with runners on base this season. Michigan has been able to get plenty of runners on base but hasn’t been able to bring them in — the team has left 167 runners on base so far this season.
But Wednesday night was different. Hits and runs started pouring in during the first inning. Evans led off with a double to center field. Another hit by sophomore right fielder Lyndsay Doyle and a sacrifice bunt by Chidester put two in scoring position for the Wolverines, and junior Ashley Lane was walked to load the bases. Things were off to a hot start for Michigan, as it led 2-1 after one inning.
It didn’t stop there. The Wolverines scored eight runs in the third inning, including Chidester’s grand slam. Freshman pitcher Sara Driesenga began the scoring, hitting a two-run a home run to extend Michigan’s lead, 4-1.
After the entire squad met Driesenga and senior third baseman Stephanie Kirkpatrick at home plate while the crowd sang along to “The Victors,” it was back to business. Junior shortstop Amy Knapp singled to left field, freshman catcher Lauren Sweet walked and sophomore Nicole Sappingfield singled to right field to load the bases.
Evans singled to bring in Knapp, and Doyle was walked, bringing in Sweet and loading the bases once again.
Then came Chidester’s hit.
Though her grand slam may have been the highlight of the game, both Chidester and Hutchins know the matchup was a genuine team effort — all but one player recorded a hit.
“I think it was very much (everyone doing their part tonight),” Chidester said. “In the beginning of the (first) inning, Bree’s part is to get on, she gets on. Lyndsay’s part (is to) move her over or get on, (and she) did both. It just continually happened throughout the entire game. We had base runners on, and people hit in. It was perfect.”
Driesenga also contributed to the team effort in her first appearance since March 11, completing the five innings with two runs — one earned — on three hits, and pitching three shutout innings. The righty has been struggling as of late, but Hutchins was impressed with her improved command and finish.
“Sara did a nice job, and she’s worked very hard,” Hutchins said. “She’s had to work through some adversity, and once you get through adversity, it really empowers you. She’s on the right track.”