After sweeping through the double-elimination regional last week on their home field, the Michigan Wolverines softball team hosted the Super Regional against the Missouri Tigers this weekend.
They continued their winning ways this Memorial Day weekend as the second-seeded Wolverines led by legendary softball head coach Carol Hutchins dispatched the 15-seed Tigers in a best-of-three, winning 5-3 in game one and then 5-4 in game two. It is the 12th time the program has reached the NCAA Women’s College World Series*.
[*Michigan made the WCWS in 1982 as a part of the old ‘Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’, or AIAW]
Michigan will head back to Oklahoma City in the 8-team knockout stage for a chance at their second national championship and the first since 2005. The second-ranked Wolverines boast a top-5 offense (.353 team BA) and top-10 pitching staff (2.06 team ERA).
Joining Michigan in ‘The 405’ this upcoming week will be Georgia, making their 3rd WCWS appearance all-time, Oklahoma (10th), LSU (5th), Florida State (9th), Alabama (11th), Auburn (2nd) and UCLA (26th). The Wolverines are one of five – along with LSU, ‘Bama, Auburn and UCLA – returning in consecutive seasons. It’s the first time since 2014 for Oklahoma and Florida State, and Georgia returns for the first time in seven years.
Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Megan Betsa was impressive once again over the weekend, showing why she earned league honors this season. In the two games against the Tigers, Betsa hurled a total of 13.1 innings, allowing six earned runs on 15 hits against a very good Missouri offense that ranks in the top 15 with a .328 team batting average.
The Wolverines trailed 4-1 heading into the top half of the 7th (they were the visitors in game two) and managed to score four runs on five hits. The go-ahead and eventual game-winning run came on a wild pitch from Missouri starter Paige Lowary, scoring Kelly Christner.
The Tigers had runners on the corners with two outs in the home half of the 7th but Betsa induced a ground ball to first to end the game and punch their ticket to the Women’s College World Series.
Michigan now post a very impressive 51-5 overall record this season, riding a modest five-game winning streak following their loss in the Big Ten Tournament championship game to Minnesota two weeks ago.
Leading the Wolverines into Oklahoma City this week, along with their workhorse in the circle Betsa, will be softball superstar and 2016 Player of the Year finalist Sierra Romero. The resumé is simply incredible for the Murrieta, CA native. Romero is a:
- Three-time All-American (likely four-time following this season)
- Three-time top-3 finalist for Nat’l POY
- Three-time Big Ten POY (2013 and ’14 at SS; ’16 at 2B)
- Four-time First-team All-Big Ten
- 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year
In addition to the accolades, her career numbers at Michigan are simply off the charts. In 250 career games, she has a blistering .444/.586/.889 slash line and clubbed 82 home runs. She ranks No. 1 all-time in program history in batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, RBI (304), base on balls (222) and runs scored (300).
Including her 301 career base knocks, she’s the first ever woman in the sport to record 300+ hits, runs, and RBI in a collegiate career. Also, of her 82 career bombs, 11 are good for grand slams. That and her 300 runs scored are the most all-time in women’s softball history.
Oh, and she wreaks havoc on the bases. She’s attempted to steal a bag 60 times in her Michigan career, successfully swiping 52 of them.
Michigan now goes into OKC as the highest-ranked team remaining in the dance, after top-seeded and two-time defending champion Florida was upset by conference rival (16) Georgia on their home field in Gainesville, FL.
The WCWS kicks off on Thursday, June 2nd at noon ET on the ESPN family of networks. It is a double-bracket, double-elimination format followed by a best-of-three in the championship series. The Wolverines will be playing in the nightcap against (10) LSU at 9:30 p.m. ET. The Tigers overcame a 1-0 hole in the Harrisonburg, VA Super Regional and toppled (7) James Madison.
Should Michigan win that first game, they could see themselves squaring off with (3) Oklahoma. At that point, we’d be seeing a showdown of siblings. Back to Romero, her younger sister Sydney is a freshman for the Sooners.
Here is the complete schedule for the Women’s College World Series:
- Thursday June 2
- Game 1: (16) Georgia vs (8) Florida State – noon ET on ESPN
- Game 2: (5) Auburn vs (12) UCLA – approx. 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game 3: (6) Alabama vs (3) Oklahoma – 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game 4: (10) LSU vs (2) Michigan – approx. 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Friday June 3
- Game 5: Game 1 Loser vs Game 2 Loser – 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game 6: Game 3 Loser vs Game 4 Loser – approx. 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Saturday June 4
- Game 7: Game 1 Winner vs Game 2 Winner – noon ET on ESPN
- Game 8: Game 3 Winner vs Game 4 Winner – approx. 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs Game 7 Loser – 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs Game 8 Loser – approx. 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Sunday June 5
- Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs Game 9 Winner – 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs Game 10 Winner – approx. 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game 13: Rematch of Game 11 (if necessary) – 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game 14: Rematch of Game 12 (if necessary) – approx. 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – GAME 11/13 WINNER vs GAME 12/14 WINNER
- Game 1: Monday June 6 @ 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game 2: Tuesday June 7 @ 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game 3: Wednesday June 8 @ 7 p.m. ET on ESPN (if necessary)