UM softball 'playing tough'; MSU looks to shake off rust ahead of Big Ten tourney

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

The Michigan softball team finished its regular season with a series sweep at Wisconsin, and with a little help from Ohio State, is now the No. 4 seed and has earned a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.

The single-elimination 12-team tournament begins Wednesday at Michigan State’s Secchia Stadium, and all games will be televised by BTN. The championship game is Sunday at 1 p.m. Northwestern (39-9, 19-4 Big Ten) won the conference regular-season championship and is the top seed.

Michigan State (24-27, 4-16 Big Ten) is the No. 12 seed and will face No. 5 Maryland (28-22, 14-8) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The winner of that game will face Michigan (34-15, 14-8) in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 7 pm.

Michigan was the No. 5 seed heading into the final regular-season weekend and needed to win all three at Wisconsin and also needed Ohio State to sweep a doubleheader against Maryland on Sunday. The Wolverines had nine unanswered runs in the final three innings on Sunday to win 13-9 on Sunday and get the series sweep. Ohio State won both games against Maryland, which is now the No. 5 seed.

The Wolverines won five straight to end the regular season, and 10 of their last 12.

“The kids are playing tough,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins told The Detroit News last week. “And yeah, I think we can do a lot of damage. I think the kids feel that way. I don't think they're caught up in what they haven't done. They're out here to do something.”

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For Michigan State, the game Wednesday will be the first in 10 days for the Spartans, who last played May 1 at home against Maryland, a 2-1 win.

The Spartans, in a release over the weekend, canceled their final regular-season series at Rutgers because of “health and safety protocols within the Michigan State program. The decision to cancel was made out of an abundance of caution surrounding the health and safety of the participants.”

Those games were recorded as no contests.

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Michigan State is 1-2 this season against Maryland, which enters the tournament having lost its last three, one to Michigan State and the other two to Ohio State.

Twitter: @chengelis