Wolverines to Orlando for NCAA Regional Play
// Leah Howard
Full Game Notes (PDF)
The University of Michigan’s 20th-ranked softball team (36-16) heads to Orlando, Florida, Friday through Sunday (May 20-22), to begin the NCAA Tournament at the University of Central’s UCF Softball Complex Florida. The Wolverines begin their game against South Dakota State at 3:30 p.m. Friday, streamed live on ESPN+.
Michigan makes its 29th NCAA Tournament appearance (1992-93, ’95-2019, ’21-22) and has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament every season since 1995. It is only the eighth time in program history that UM will play a regional round on the road. The Wolverines are 86-21 all-time in the NCAA regional round and have won 18 regional titles.
The winner of the Orlando Regional will advance to a super regional against the winner of the regional hosted by Oklahoma in Norman. That regional includes No. 1 overall seed Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Minnesota and Prairie View A&M.
Friday (May 20) is the first-ever meeting between Michigan and the state of South Dakota.
The Wolverines have won seven of their last eight games. UM saw its seven-game win streak ended with a 3-1 loss in eight innings against Nebraska in the final of the Big Ten Tournament. In the last eight games, Michigan has surpassed its opponents 48-20.
Fifth-year senior third baseman Taylor Bump hit two homeruns in the Big Ten tournament to bring her total to team-best six this season. She posted a shot with two outs and two runs in the top of the seventh inning to propel UM to a 2-1 comeback win against Northwestern in the semifinals. Bump, an All-Big Ten first team last season, also led UM with 12 home runs in 2021.
Senior first baseman Lexie Blair has been a big addition since returning to the Wolverine starting grid due to an injury he sustained in the Northwestern series opener (April 1), hitting .394 with six extra-base hits and eight RBI in the 11 games since. She earned the final Big Ten Player of the Week award in the regular season after hitting .700 (7-for-10) in the Wisconsin series and delivered the leading double in the fourth inning to complete UM’s comeback in the Finals against the state of Ohio. After having started 155 games in the Wolverine-outfield during her career, she started the last 11 at first base.
graduated student Kristina Burkhardt is fifth nationally this season with 20 doubles and eighth with an average of 0.38 doubles per game and fourth with seven triples and fifth with 0.13 triples per game. Burkhardt’s seven triples are the most for a Wolverine player since Patti Benedict tied the program record with 11 in 1993. Adding her solo home run to the home final against Minnesota is more than 40 percent (28-of-64) of Burkhardt’s hits this season disappeared for extra bases.
Junior Audrey LeClair enjoys a breakthrough year with a batting average of .345 — an improvement of 178 points from her average last season (.167) — and has career highs in every offensive category, including 27 runs, 38 hits and 14 RBI. LeClair, who was mostly a sniff in the first two seasons, has started 39 outfield games for Michigan.
senior catcher Hannah Carson has been the most popular hitter for the Wolverines of late, hitting .462 over the last 10 games with nine runs scored, four extra-base hits and seven RBI. She started UM’s seventh-inning rally against Northwestern in the Big Ten Semifinals with a two-out single and boasted eight hits and four RBI in the three-game Wisconsin series to close out the regular season.
Senior right-handed pitcher Alex Storako stands 12th nationally in wins (23), eighth in complete-game shutouts (9), 11th in total strikeouts (284), and ninth in strikeouts per seven innings (10.9). She owns 12 double-digit strikeout games. Storako also led the country last season with a strikeout average of 12.9, while the Michigan staff led the nation with a strikeout average of 10.76.
freshman RHP Annabelle Widra posted a perfect deserved running average of 0.00 over five relief innings in the Big Ten Tournament, allowing no hits and one walk and striking out four through appearances against Maryland and Northwestern. She earned the win in the latter, retired the last seven batters and contributed to a shutout in the first, striking out all six batters in the seventh. She was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Blair and Storako were named to the All-Big Ten first team — the third honor for Blair and the second for Storako, who were last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. Carson, LeClair and Melina Livingston were all chosen in the second team of all conferences for the first time in their careers.
Already the winningest coach in NCAA softball history, head coach Carol Hutchins became the first to reach the 1,700 win milestone with Michigan’s 8-4 victory in the rubber game against Minnesota on May 1. Hutchins, who is now 1705-549-5 in her 39 years as a collegiate coach, recaptured the mantle of NCAA softball’s most winning coaches with the Wolverines’ 3-0 victory over Northern Kentucky (February 25) after winning more than two games earlier. year, after passing Margie Wright’s record of 1,457 career wins in 2016.
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