Down to its final out, Michigan finally figured out Northwestern pitcher Danielle Williams, and will play for Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament softball championship as a result.
After just one hit through six innings on Friday evening, the Wolverines entered the seventh down 1-0. The first two batters were retired before Hannah Carson gave Michigan hope, smashing a two-out single to the right. Taylor Bump followed with a towering home run to left.
Annabelle Widra, whose wild pitch during an intentional walk gave Northwestern the lead in the fifth, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to seal the 2-1 victory, Michigan’s seventh straight.
The 4th-seeded Wolverines will face 2 seed Nebraska in Saturday’s championship. First pitch has been moved up to 11 am ET in response to expected bad weather at Secchia Stadium in East Lansing. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.
On Friday, Meghan Beaubien started for Michigan and pitched four scoreless innings. After walking 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 Thursday’s 7-0 shutout over Maryland.
After a fielder’s choice and a stolen base, Northwestern had runners on second and third with one out. Widra responded with a strikeout. While attempting to intentionally walk the next batter, Widra’s 3-0 pitch was a low rocket over the middle of the plate that went to the backstop and allowed the only run of the game to score.
It looked like it might cost the Wolverines a chance to repeat as Big Ten Tournament champs – they won the last time it was held, in 2019 – but instead they found a way late.
Before the seventh, the Wolverines managed just one hit and three baserunners, with none of them getting 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 lead off the fourth. She made the second out of the inning after leaving first before Williams released the pitch. Bump, who hit a home run in Thursday’s win, got on base her first two times at the plate, via hit by pitch and, to start the fifth, on a walk. Kaylee Rodriguez pinch ran for her after the walk and was caught stealing for the second out.
All of the offensive struggles were made irrelevant by Bump’s bomb.
Michigan (36-15) lost its two games against Nebraska this season, in late March in Ann Arbor. The Cornhuskers beat Ohio State on Friday 2-1 with a walk-off double.