GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The University of Michigan-Dearborn softball team enters the final doubleheader of the season, alone in first place after using two big innings to sweep Aquinas College in a critical Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference matchup Saturday in Grand Rapids, Mich.
After nine scoreless innings in the opener, UM-Dearborn exploded for six runs in the 10th to take the game 6-1. The Wolverines trailed 1-0 late in the finale, but after tying the game in the sixth, UM-Dearborn got eight runs, all with two outs, in the seventh to win game two 9-1. The sweep moves UM-Dearborn to 26-6-1 overall and 15-2-1 in the WHAC. UM-Dearborn is now in first place alone in the conference and the Wolverines have won 15 straight, all in WHAC play.
The Wolverines close the regular season with two games at Davenport University on Friday. A sweep would ensure at least a share of the WHAC regular season title for the first time in program history.
Game one was a pitcher's duel, with two of the best in the WHAC going pitch-for-pitch through nine innings. Gina Verduzco (JR/Portage, MI)(13-3) showed her power and endurance, going all 10 innings for the Wolverines, allowing one run on six hits, while striking out seven.
The Wolverines got the bats rolling in the 10th inning, starting with a two-run single off the bat of Kylie Hill (SR/Adrian, MI), followed by RBIs from Jordan Ewald (JR/Wixom, MI) and Morgan Larkin (SO/Westland, MI). Rachel Clem (SO/Stevensville, MI) broke through with a two-run double to break the score open. Aquinas got a solo home run in the bottom of the inning, but it was not enough.
Taylor Moceri (SR/Sterling Heights, MI), Sarah Prashad (SO/Mississauga, Ontario), Ewald and Verduzco each finished with two hits, while reigning WHAC Player-of-the-Week Kassidy Butler (SO/Parchment, MI) added a hit and two walks, as the Saints avoided pitching to the conference's leading hitter.
The finale was also low scoring, as Ashlynn Henderson (FR/Temecula, CA) entered the game in the third inning for the Wolverines, shutting the Saints down for 4.2 innings, earning the win. Henderson (2-1) allowed just two hits and a walk, while striking out two.
Aquinas took a 1-0 lead with a run in the third, but UM-Dearborn came through with the tying run in the sixth. The game was broken open in the seventh by the Wolverines, who loaded the bases with one out. After Aquinas got a big out at home plate, UM-Dearborn scored eight runs with two outs to secure the win.
Ewald got the scoring going with a two-run single, while Ellie Kauten (JR/Shelby Township, MI) doubled home a pair to make it 5-1. Larkin, Clem, Riley Hison (SO/Macomb Township, MI) and Butler each added RBIs to make it 9-1 Wolverines.
The Wolverines take the field with Davenport in the regular season finale at 4 p.m. Friday in Grand Rapids, Mich.