May 22, 2014 at 1:00 am

Michigan softball team marches on despite being weakened by flu

Despite being weakened by several cases of stomach flu among the players, the Michigan softball team is continuing its march through the NCAA tournament.

The Wolverines, winners of the Tempe Regional last weekend, will face No. 3 Florida State in Tallahassee on Thursday night in a best-of-three Super Regional.

Since the tournament started last week, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said there have been five trips to the emergency room to treat players.

“The flu has gone through 1 through 4 in the batting order,” Hutchins said. “We’re not over it. It’s highly concerning to the coach.”

Michigan’s 1-4 hitters are center fielder Lyndsay Doyle, right fielder Nicole Sappingfield, shortstop Sierra Romero and first baseman Caitlin Blanchard.

Michigan played in 100-plus degree weather in Tempe, Ariz., including back-to-back games last Sunday. The Wolverines decided to fly directly to Tallahassee, to try to get acclimated to the time change and humid conditions, not to mention giving the players a chance to get over the flu.

“It was quite a regional,” Hutchins said of last weekend’s games. “(Sunday’s final game) was as intense a game as we played all year. The kids were so locked.”

Sierra Lawrence and Taylor Hasselbach hit back-to-back homers in the top of the seventh to give Michigan a 5-4 lead, then Doyle made a leaping catch on what would have been a game-winning homer by Arizona State in the bottom of the seventh.

But in making final preparations for Florida State, Hutchins said she had the team back away from intense practices. Instead, they had light hitting workouts and focused on rest.

“They’re still in recovery mode,” she said. “Our energy is not where I would like it to be, and a lot of that is heat-related.”

Taylor Hasselbach was one of the heroes of Sunday's final game against Arizona State, homering in the seventh for Michigan's go-ahead run. / Max Ortiz / Detroit News