ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The No. 19-ranked University of Michigan softball team used dominant pitching and a timely hitting to cruise past Saint Francis, 8-0, in six innings in its NCAA Regional opener on Friday afternoon (May 17) in front of a crowd of 2,490 at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field.
Michigan will face No. 16-ranked James Madison at noon Saturday (May 18) in the winners’ bracket of the four-team, double-elimination regional, while Saint Francis will play DePaul at 2:30 p.m. in an elimination game. James Madison defeated DePaul, 5-2, in Friday’s first game.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Meghan Beaubien (29-4) and freshman righty Alex Storako combined for the shutout, allowing just three total hits and a walk while striking out eight. Beaubien, who tossed five innings to earn the win, sacrificed two hits and fanned six. Saint Francis did not advance a runner past second base.
The Wolverines broke through in their second turn at the plate, as they plated four in the third inning, one in the fifth and ended the game with a three-run sixth. Six different players posted multiple hits, including a pair of freshmen in left fielder Lexie Blair and catcher Hannah Carson, who both tallied two hits and a run batted in in their NCAA Tournament debuts.
Blair pushed across the Wolverines’ first run on a groundout in the third, after back-to-back base hits from senior second baseman Faith Canfield and senior center fielder Natalie Peters — who also tallied two hits apiece — to lead off the inning. Senior designated player Mackenzie Nemitz snuck an RBI double past the Saint Francis first baseman and down the right-field line, while Carson banged a bouncing ground ball off the SFU second baseman to plate two more runs.
Carson, who entered in the second after senior catcher Katie Alexander appeared to tweak her knee the previous inning, used a double to drive in another run in the fifth. Michigan boasted four two-baggers in the contest, while it was Carson’s second career multi-hit effort.
Canfield kicked off the Wolverines’ three-run sixth with a one-out home run — a no-doubt solo shot deep over the left center-field wall for her ninth of the season. After a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch pushed across another run, Nemitz sailed a fly ball to center in the next at-bat, on which Blair tagged up and scored the game-ending run.