Michigan’s offense struck early and often to help the No. 20 Wolverines sweep the Ohio State softball team in a three-game series at Buckeye Field over the weekend.
The Wolverines outscored the Buckeyes, 27-11, and out-hit them, 32-16, on the way to three key wins in Big Ten play. Both teams entered the series with a 5-1 record in the conference.
Game three was the most tightly contested of the weekend, but it didn’t look that way early as senior pitcher Mikayla Endicott dug herself a hole in the top of the first inning. Endicott threw 60 pitches, walked five batters and gave up four runs before OSU ever had a chance to step to the plate. She credited the Wolverine batters for the length of her first inning.
“I just kept attacking them, mixing things up,” Endicott said. “It was a battle and I was just trying to keep them off-balance and throw my game.”
Trailing, 4-0, the Buckeyes responded quickly in the bottom of the first. A leadoff single followed by two hit batters loaded the bases with no outs and Evelyn Carrillo took advantage of the opportunity. The sophomore first baseman hit a grand slam over the right field wall to tie the game. Carrillo said she had a good idea of what pitch she would see.
“I was expecting change-up all day today because I knew they had gotten me the previous day on a change-up,” she said. “I was like something up, I’m just gonna hit it, and that’s what it was.”
The Wolverines added one run in the second and one in the third to make the score 6-4 and the Buckeyes couldn’t overcome the deficit. OSU scored once in the bottom of the fifth on a Michigan error, but that was it as OSU fell, 6-5.
Despite the third loss to Michigan in two days, senior shortstop Alicia Herron found some positives in game three.
“We came out a lot better the second game in comparison to the first two games,” Herron said. “We played tougher, we made adjustments, we were better at the plate. Overall it was just much better.”
In game two, OSU built an early lead, but saw it disappear quickly. The Buckeyes batted through the order in the bottom of the first and took an early 3-1 lead.
The Wolverines’ potent offense answered in the top of the second with five runs and never looked back. They added one run in the third, one in the fourth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh and finished the game with 16 hits to defeat the Buckeyes, 11-4.
OSU coach Linda Kalafatis said it wasn’t the physical aspect of the game that caused her team problems.
“A lot of this was mental and we had some breakdowns,” Kalafatis said. “A great program like Michigan isn’t gonna let you get away with a whole lot.”
On Friday, game one started and ended the same way as game two. The Buckeyes scored two in the first inning thanks to a Herron home run, but could not muster another run the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines blasted Endicott for nine runs in three innings of work to build a 9-2 lead before tacking on one run in the seventh off freshman pitcher Olivia O’Reilly to post a 10-2 victory.
OSU fell to 23-14 on the season and 5-4 in the Big Ten while Michigan improved to 27-10 and 8-1 in the conference.
The Buckeyes finish up a six-game homestand Wednesday at 6 p.m. versus Dayton at Buckeye Field.