Leading up to its final, Michigan has finally discovered Northwest pitcher Danielle Williams and will therefore play for Saturday’s Big Ten tournament softball championship.
After just one hit in six innings Friday night, the Wolverines entered the seventh down 1-0. The first two batters were out before Hannah Carson gave Michigan hope, breaking a two-out single to the right. Taylor Bump followed with a commanding home run on the left.
Annabelle Widra, whose wild pitch on an intentional walk gave Northwestern the lead in fifth, pitched a seventh 1-2-3 to seal the 2-1 victory, Michigan’s seventh straight.
The 4th-seeded Wolverines will face 2nd-seeded Nebraska in Saturday’s championship game. The first pitch was moved until 11 a.m. ET in response to forecast bad weather at Secchia Stadium in East Lansing. The game will air on Big Ten Network.
On Friday, Meghan Beaubien started for Michigan and pitched four scoreless innings. After riding the first Wildcat and hitting the next to start the bottom of the fifth, Widra replaced her on the mound. Widra had pitched two perfect innings to close out Thursday’s 7-0 shutout against Maryland.
After picking a fielder and a stolen base, Northwestern had runners in second and third with one out. Widra responded with a strikeout. While trying to intentionally step on the next batter, Widra’s 3-0 pitch was a low rocket to the middle of the plate that went to the backstop and allowed the game’s only run to score.
It looked like it might cost the Wolverines a chance to repeat themselves as Big Ten tournament champions – they won the last time it was held, in 2019 – but they instead found a way late.
Heading into the seventh, the Wolverines had just one hit and three base runners, none of them past first base, against Williams, who struck out five for the top-seeded Wildcats. She walked one and hit two batters.
The Wolverines’ first hit came from Audrey LeClair to start the fourth. She made the second out of the inning after leaving the first before Williams cleared the field. Bump, who hit a home run in Thursday’s win, got his first two times at the plate, via hit-and-pitch and, to start the fifth, on a walk. Kaylee Rodriguez ran for it after the walk and was caught stealing for the second out.
All offensive struggles were rendered useless by Bump’s bomb.
Michigan (36-15) lost its two games against Nebraska this season, at the end of March in Ann Arbor. The Cornhuskers beat Ohio State on Friday 2-1 with a brace.