'Heartbroken': UM softball ousted in regionals
Seattle — A two-out, two-run double by Washington’s Morganne Flores ended Michigan's hopes of advancing to the Women’s College World Series.
After the teams were tied at 2 through five innings, Flores' bases-loaded double sealed Michigan’s fate in a 4-2 loss at the NCAA Tournament regional championship game at University of Washington’s Husky Softball Field on Sunday.
“My team, of course, is heartbroken,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “The only thing they’re going to be judged on is their heart and their effort. And they gave it all they had. We fought the whole game. It’s tough to be done.”
Michigan (43-12) got on the board first in the second inning on Faith Canfield’s two-out homer, her ninth of the season, that went just over the left fielder’s glove to put Michigan on top, 1-0.
Michigan beat Fresno State, 3-1, in the tourney opener on Friday, lost to Washington, 12-4, on Saturday, and rebounded to defeat Fresno State again, 4-0, Saturday night to advance to the championship round.
Senior ace Megan Betsa (25-10) started her fourth game in three days and finished with nine strikeouts, nine walks, five hits and four earned runs in seven innings.
“She knew it was a battle,” Hutchins said of Betsa. “She knew she was going to have to better than she was yesterday. I believe she owned it.”
Betsa survived two bases-loaded jams in the top of the third and fourth innings.
After notching a strikeout to start the top of the third, Betsa gave up a triple to Washington’s Kelly Burdick. Three pitches later, Ali Aguilar crushed one into the center-field bleachers, putting Washington up, 2-1.
Betsa walked three of the next four batters to load the bases with two outs.
With the bases juiced, Canfield made an acrobatic catch at second base to get Michigan out of the jam.
In the top of the fourth inning after giving up an infield hit then walking the next two batters, Betsa caught Washington’s Casey Stangel swinging for her sixth strikeout to get out of another jam.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Aidan Falk shot the gap in left-center for a double, allowing Canfield to score and tie the game at 2.
Betsa found herself in more trouble in the top of the sixth, walking two straight batters and loading the bases with two outs for the third time. Flores lined a pitch down the third base line to score two runners and give Washington a 4-2 advantage.
Betsa was saved from further damage after Washington’s next batter reached first on an infield hit, and led to a confusion by the runner on second base who was tagged out backtracking to second after thinking the runner on third had took off for home.
Michigan fell short in its comeback bid in the seventh, getting three straight outs after putting runners on first and second.
Canfield said the upperclassmen are what she’ll remember most about this season.
“The way they led us this year was amazing,” Canfield said. “Just all the fun times we’ve had, like even just going to this game.”
Hutchins said despite the loss, she’s still pleased with her team's effort.
“I’m very proud of this group,” Hutchins said. “We cry because it’s over. No one wants their season to be over."
Game 1: No. 2 Michigan 3, No. 3 Fresno State 1
Game 2: No. 1 Washington 8, No. 4 Montana 0
Game 3: Washington 12, Michigan 4
Game 4: Fresno State 7, Montana 0
Game 5: Michigan 4, Fresno State 0
Game 6: Washington 4, Michigan 2
Eric Trent is a freelance writer.