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Posted on Sun, May 5, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

Michigan softball turns beanballs into long-balls in regular season finale

By Pete Cunningham


Michigan freshman Sierra Romero celebrates on her way to home plate after a Caitlin Blanchard home run on Sunday, May 5. Romero had been beaned for the second time in the game on the previous pitch.

Daniel Brenner |

The Michigan softball team has more than one hitter in its lineup. Northwestern found that out the hard way on Sunday at Alumni Field.

A day after freshman shortstop Sierra Romero hit her 22nd homerun of the season, a new single season record for the Wolverines, the Wildcats did everything to keep Romero from hurting them. Northwestern pitcher Amy Letourneau pitched around and at Romero, beaning Romero in her first two plate appearances and walking her on her four straight pitches before intentionally walking her in her final appearance.

The middle of the Wolverines lineup made Northwestern (30-21, 12-10 Big Ten) pay for the strategy, bringing Romero home after each of her four walks to power Michigan to a 9-3 win at Alumni Field on Sunday.

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“We have more than one hitter in our lineup and I think we showed that,” Michigan coach Carol “Hutch” Hutchins said. “Our game plan was, if she hits you, let’s make it a run and she made it runs.”

Romero was hit in the head by a pitch in the bottom of the third inning, sending the crowd at Alumni Field into a chorus of boos as Letourneau had hit Romero in three straight plate appearances dating back to Friday. The boos quickly turned into cheers as Caitlin Blanchard sent the very next pitch over the right centerfield fence to give Michigan a 4-3 lead.

“It felt really good. It was just great, the crowd was all fired up, booing the Northwestern pitcher and everything and when the crowd’s into and when the whole team’s into it, it’s just so much easier to just go up there and just get the job done,” said Blanchard, who finished 2-for-2 with four RBIs and two runs scored.

Blanchard was met at home plate by an ecstatic Romero. Blanchard said what she was greeted with shouldn’t be repeated as emotions were running high after the hit-by-pitches.

“I was pretty pumped about it,” Romero said with a grin. "I have so much confidence in Caitlin, I just know she can get the job done and when she does, it’s just a great feeling.”

Blanchard and Romero were walked back-to-back the next inning - this time with Blanchard getting hit by a pitch - and Ashley Lane made the Wildcats pay with a three-run homerun to put Michigan up 7-3.

“The thing that we focus on is just do your part and Caitlin, they walk Romo and she had an opportunity, as Ashley did, and if you get your opportunity, make good on it,” Hutchins said.


The Michigan softball team gave head coach Carol "Hutch" Huthins an ice water bath after capping the regular season with a 4-3 win over Northwestern.

Daniel Brenner |

Hutchins received an overdue ice water bath as Michigan was presented with the Big Ten Trophy following the game. Michigan (44-9, 20-2 Big Ten) wrapped up its sixth straight conference championship on Friday and will be the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament next weekend.

After four years of not having a conference tournament, Hutchins said she’s looking forward to its reintroduction.

‘’It’s a good way to get ready for regional tournaments,” Hutchins said. “The games are very meaningful because it’s a one and done … . it should be very competitive and you want your kids competing hard at this time of year.”

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Mon, May 6, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

No ejections? There should have been an ejection after the second hbp,

Pete Cunningham

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

I found it odd, too, especially after the bean to Romero's head. After the weekend it became very clear that baseball and softball cultures are very different in this regard. I heard one usher say in the sixth inning, "Can you imagine if that happened in the baseball game? They'd still be fighting."


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

hutch needed to have sara put one in the NU pitcher's midsection when she came to the plate. you can't allow your kids to come to the batter's box with a target on them (romero / blanchard). the fact that those runners scored is beside the point. the NU coaches were allowed to throw at sierra romero all weekend without as much as a warning from the umpires or retaliation from the first base side. not a good precedent and not fair to the kids who were targeted.

Pete Cunningham

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

What became clear to me over the weekend was how much different some of the unwritten rules in baseball and softball are. Talking with someone over the weekend I asked if there was any kind of warning and she said, "I don't know that I've ever seen a warning or an ejection of a pitcher in softball," and my reaction was "Me neither, but I don't think I've ever seen a team's leading home run hitter beaned three times straight, once in the head." As much as a retaliatory bean would have gotten the fans going - and deep down maybe made a player, coach or two smile - nothing hurts a pitcher more than putting a ball over the outfield fence. That's exactly what Blanchard and Lane did and the hardest high fives they received when they got back to the dugout were from Romero.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 10:22 a.m.

I thought the best hit was the one after Blanchard's dinger, when the next batter slammed a rope foul into the Northwestern bench. Great game ladies, way to put on a show for the fans! Way to show some class as well!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 4:32 a.m.

Awesome game! A perfect way to end a great season and prepare for the Big Ten tournament as well as the NCAA tournament. Thanks, Pete, for another thorough report.