Michigan Softball 2023 Schedule – With an average performance last weekend, Michigan is focused on what it can get out of it. Maria Deckmann / Daily. Buy this image.
This past weekend at St. Pete’s Clearwater Invitational is packed with top-notch programming. Teams have the opportunity to bolster their resumes with an escape from a conference win or a loss out of the national spotlight.
Michigan Softball 2023 Schedule
The Michigan softball team, however, did not. His 2-3 performance showed an average weekend, in which Wolverines beat teams ranked below them and against the national top flight.
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In recent years, that’s been Michigan’s pattern – competing against good teams in the Big Ten, but falling short of the national championship. Last weekend’s performances fell as usual, forcing the first-year manager to make a significant change from last season.
However, for a team that proclaims the “OKC mentality” – which aims to make the College World Series – last weekend was not a wish, just a learning experience.
“Last weekend we had no winners,” graduate artist Melina Livingston said Feb. 21. “We will learn from the good guys, we will learn from the bad guys.”
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In a weekend filled with tough opponents, the Wolverines will have to learn and adapt quickly. An illness forced sophomore Lexie Blair to the bench, letting coach Bonnie Tholl see the depth and talent in her sophomores.
Tholl doesn’t expect to replace his star roster, but he sees potential and reliability in his bench – headlined by rookie rookie Janelle Ilacqua and rookie/outfield rookie Indiana Langford. Ilacqua provides a solid presence at home plate and has a big impact at times, while Langford offers a variety of views on the field from various defensive positions.
A three-time All-Big Ten player, Blair has been in Michigan softball for several seasons. The Wolverines know the production he brings, but over the past weekend they learned to fill the void he left when unforeseen circumstances forced him off the field.
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With freshmen stepping up, the Wolverines topped Mississippi State and Louisiana in one-point decisions. In these close games, Michigan relies on fast hitting and aggressive base runs to score as teams struggle to get extra runs — except for a few runs from Keke Tholl in the house.
Keke’s four-week home run proved the short receiver can be a power hitter from the 3 hole. After seeing limited playing time last season, he has established himself as the team’s strongest player in recent weeks.
But aside from Keke, the Wolverines have learned how limited their offense is and how they can overcome it to win games – with a style of play typical of Michigan a few years ago. Powerless, Wolverines must now win games through their aggression and timely collisions, which happened last weekend in a game they won – a good thing.
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“We were lucky to play against Louisiana-Lafayette in our base run, we had some balls that didn’t leave the field,” Bonnie said. “But you can score at least three times on some balls. A team of this caliber will have a good time.”
When Michigan lost – badly – it learned that its offensive game wasn’t enough to win games on its own. It should be topped off with stellar pitching, another area Wolverines have had in recent years.
With the loss of last year’s starting pitcher, right guard Lauren Derkowski and junior guard Jessica LeBeau are unproven replacements.
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Last week, Michigan learned that the duo were not yet at the level of talent they replaced.
“It was a big challenge for our pitchers this weekend because (the pitchers) faced some really tough competition,” Tholl said. “Now they understand what they are up against, how they need to work and the changes we need to make.”
Facing tough competition, pitchers prove to be a step backwards. If the Wolverines want to compete for the College World Series, they know pitching will be key – as it has been for years.
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But just ten games into the season, Derkowski and LeBeau have found the team’s top spot. And they learned that they have to improve before they can compete at a high level.
“We’re going to see some of those teams again, and it’ll be at OKC,” Livingston said. “And it will be a completely different game.”
In their first week against top contenders, the Wolverines had both good and bad. But for a team that has its sights set on Oklahoma City, Michigan will have to learn from both to stand a chance. University of Michigan’s Lexie Blair (3) throws the ball to Natalia Rodriguez (21) in the home opener against Michigan State at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor on Wednesday April 14, 2021. UofM won 6-1. (Alie Skowronski/) Alie Skowronski | Ann Arbor News
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Michigan’s softball program has been a mainstay on the NCAA’s Top 25 list while winning 26 consecutive NCAA championships.
But with a new coach and a revamped roster, the Wolverines enter the 2023 season unranked in both the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Top 25 Coaches poll and the D1Softball rankings.
That said, they received the second-most votes among teams that didn’t make it through the Top 25 Coaches poll, which was released on Tuesday. Northwestern is the only Big Ten team represented in the top 25.
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Carol Hutchins, the NCAA’s all-time leader, retired in August after 38 seasons, taking the program to 22 regular season titles, 12 Women’s College World Series appearances and the national championship in 2005. That ceded the up to its long period. Assistant Bonnie Tholl, who received a young and inexperienced pass for 2023.
Michigan lost five starters and three top players from last year’s team that finished 38-18 and lost in NCAA Tournament Regionals. The most notable departures are co-aces Meghan Beaubien, who graduated, and Alex Storako, who traded to defending national champion Oklahoma.
Sophomore Lauren Derkowski is the only Michigan comeback who had more than one touchdown last season. The team added six freshmen and three transfers to help fill the gaps. Both changes are pitchers: Hannah George of North Carolina and Jessica LeBeau of Kent State. George was 35-23 in four years for UNC, posting a 3.90 ERA.
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LeBeau was a second-team All-Mid-American Conference pick. He ranked in the top five in the league last season in ERA (2.62), strikeouts in seven innings (9.05) and batting average (.198).
Outfielder Ellie Mataya, a four-year starter at Boston College, should also have an immediate impact on the Wolverines.
Michigan has lost several key bats in its roster starting in 2022, but is returning three times to all-time first baseman Lexie Blair, who is back for a fifth season.
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Tholl, a former four-time Big Ten first-team pick for the Wolverines from 1988-91, is entering his first season as head coach. He has spent the last 29 years as an assistant under Hutchins.
If you make a purchase or create an account through one of the links on our website, we may receive payment. Michigan Softball Team’s 2023 roster is approximately last season with freshmen and transfer students representing nine of the 20 places. And with that change comes a host of decisions for Michigan coach Bonnie Tholl in her first year at the helm.
The Wolverines are off to a 10-10 start this season, losing their seven highest-ranked games. The inconsistent production affected Michigan and put more pressure on their defense, leading to tough losses and uncomfortable narrow wins.
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Tholl experimented a lot with the first-20 line, especially when it came to making starters work. He maintains that the lineup is always evolving as new faces continue to develop. With each decision, Tholl hopes to find the best combination to support consistent production.
Ahead of the Wolverines’ first home series of the season against Georgia Southern and Kent State starting Friday, The Daily breaks down Michigan’s roster.
At the start of the season, there were many doubts about whether the Wolverines would be able to replace Alex Storako, who transferred to Oklahoma, and Meghan Beaubien, who graduated. But law student Lauren Derkowski and right-wing major Jessica LeBeau stood out as far from Michigan’s new punch.
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Derkowski and LeBeau have both struggled this season and without the star power of Storako they showed they could hold the fort defensively and lead the Wolverines to victory. Derkowski holds a 2.15 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, while LeBeau – a transfer from Kent State – isn’t far behind with a 2.92 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 62, 1 sleeve.
Although still navigating the learning curve that comes with stepping into a starting role, both pitchers responded well to the pressure. The pair each had double-figure games at bat and managed to stay clear of the threat with good offensive timing.
The Michigan throw appears to be in