Michigan softball NCAA postseason run ends with 9-4 loss to UCF in regionals

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan softball gave up three runs on three RBI walks in the first inning of a must-win game and never recovered.

The Wolverines lost 9-4 to No. 16-seed and host UCF in the NCAA Tournament regionals on Sunday, ending their season. They used four pitchers and Kristina Burkhardt had two RBI. Michigan left nine runners on base. For the Knights, it marks the program’s first trip to the Super Regionals.

Michigan, led by Alex Storako’s 12 strikeouts, defeated South Dakota State, 4-1, in an elimination game earlier on Sunday after the game was postponed Saturday night because of severe weather. UCF swept Michigan during the regional, having defeated the Wolverines 3-2 in 11 innings on Saturday in the double-elimination Regional.

Michigan advanced in the winner's bracket of the regional and will face the UCF-Villanova winner on Saturday morning.

Advancing in the NCAA postseason has been challenging in recent years for the Wolverines. They have not won a Regional since 2016 – there was no NCAA Tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – also the last year they made a World Series. Michigan has not hosted an NCAA Regional since 2019.

The Knights took a 3-0 lead in the first inning as the Wolverines’ pitching struggled. Starting pitcher Meghan Beaubien walked in two runs then was replaced by Annabelle Widra who walked in another run before getting out of the inning.

They built a 5-0 lead in the third inning, but in the bottom of the inning,  Burkhardt, a graduate transfer from North Carolina, singled up the middle to score two runs. The Wolverines pulled within 5-2 but stranded runners at second and third.

Lexie Blair scored another run in the fifth inning on a single up the middle to make it 5-3. Michigan did not capitalize, though, leaving runners on second and third.

UCF added another run on a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Michigan, which finishes the season 38-18, also added a run in the final inning. Michigan coach Carol Hutchins, who completed her 38th season with the Wolverines and is the game’s winningest coach, hugged each of her players after the season ended.