Michigan Ties Up Championship Series With Game 2 Win
The Michigan Wolverines won game two of the NCAA Softball Championship Series to force a decisive winner take all third game on Wednesday night. Michigan won 1-0 behind a complete game shutout by Haylie Wagner.
Florida went down in order to start the first inning while Michigan was able to get their lone run in the bottom of the first.
Sierra Lawrence led off with a single to left field to bring up Sierra Romero. Romero hit a slow ground ball to short, but Lawrence was able to beat the throw at second. After a bunt foul out from Kelly Christner, Kelsey Susalla hit a line drive single to center field, which was compounded by a bad hop in front of Kirsti Merritt. Lawrence was able to score on the bad bounce for a 1-0 Michigan lead. A fly out and line out left two runners stranded for the Wolverines.
The Gators had a chance to tie the game in the top of the second. Lauren Haeger hit a rocket ground ball to third for an infield single and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Taylore Fuller. Wagner was able to get Bailey Castro to strike out on a change up before a Taylor Schwarz single to shortstop put runners on the corners. Wagner ended the threat with a strike out to Aubree Munro.
Michigan tried to add an insurance run in the bottom of the second. Wagner began with a bloop single down the left field line and she was then pitch ran for with Mary Sbonek. A sacrifice bunt by Tera Blanco moved her up to second while Abby Ramirez grounded out to third to move her up to second with two outs. Lawrence was unable to bring Sbonek home as she struck out looking to end the second inning.
The Gators went down in order in the top of the third while Michigan was only able to get a two out walk from Susalla in the bottom of the inning, but she was left stranded.
The top of the fourth provided Florida with another opportunity to tie the game. Haeger hit a single up the middle when the shortstop could not corral the ball. Jessica Damico pinch ran for Haeger while Fuller put runners on first and second with a hard single to left center field. Wagner was able to get out of the jam by forcing a pop out to Castro and ground out by Schwarz.
In the fifth, Florida got a lead off single from Munro, but a line drive hit by Justine McLean to shortstop doubled up the Gators and Michigan still clung to a 1-0 lead. The Wolverines got a one out double from Lawrence in the bottom of the fifth before a controversial call. Romero hit a ground ball to short that threw her out at first, but the throw to third threw out Lawrence despite her not having a path to the base.
The top of the sixth saw the Gators put another runner on base. Kirsti Merritt hit a beautiful bunt single down the first base line and she later stole second after a Haeger pop out to move into scoring position. A line out to shortstop left a runner stranded again and one last chance for Florida.
The top of the seventh was not kind to the Gators faithful. They went down in order to not even give themselves hopes of tying the game with a baserunner.
Lauren Haeger pitched well in the loss. She went six innings giving up one run on four hits with one walk and one strike out.
Haylie Wagner pitched seven innings surrendering six hits with no walks and five strike outs.
Game three of the Championship Series will be at 8 PM Eastern Time on Wednesday night. The decisive game can be seen ESPN with the winner claiming their second National Championship in Women’s softball.