Oklahoma City, Okla.— Meghan Sickler’s sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh inning proved to be the difference as Stanford defeated Michigan 5-4, eliminating the Wolverines from the Women’s College World Series.
The Cardinal tied the game in the top of the fifth inning when Leah Nelson’s single was called fair after hitting just inside the line. The hit scored Catalina Morris and brought the Cardinal within one.
“I didn’t have a good angle on the play. I just saw it hit the glove, and I told Catalina (Morris) to go. She seemed confused, but I was yelling at the top of my lungs for her to score,” Stanford head coach John Rittman said.
Following the close play, Lauren Lappin scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game at four-all.
Stanford scored the winning run in the top of the seventh when Meghan Sickler brought in Shoney Hixson on a sacrifice fly. Hixson scored on a close play at the plate.
“The throw was into the runner. It was just a good throw and good base running,” said Michigan catcher Monica Schock.
Both teams went scoreless through the first inning before posting two runs apiece in the second inning. Michigan then took a slim 3-2 advantage in the fourth. However, the Cardinal scored three runs in the last three innings to advance.
“I think we showed a lot of heart battling back. I’m very proud of how we bounced back after a tough game the other day. I thought we played really loose and that helped us,” Rittman commented. “We are getting contributions from everyone in our lineup. We’re not relying on one or two people.”
The Cardinal belted out 11 hits on the day, including a solo home run in the second inning by Jessica Allister.
“We were aggressive at the plate. We just came out ready to hit and got some hard shots,” said Cardinal shortstop Lauren Lappin. “We didn’t chase the ball much. After my first at bat, I knew the best pitch to hit was the curve ball. The next pitcher (Motycka) brought it up in the zone at little more.”
Dana Sorensen, now 33-10 on the year, picked up the win for the Cardinal.
One factor which played a role in the entire game was the up to 30 miles per hour wind gust.
“It helps to talk on defense when the wind is like that. Sure, it helped both teams out, but when the wind is blowing like that, it’s tough,” Rittman added.
For Michigan, it marked the fourth consecutive time that the Wolverines have lost its WCWS game by a single run.
“It’s a tough game to lose,” said Wolverine head coach Carol Hutchins. “This has just been an outstanding team. I’m proud of my kids. I thought the game was great. They took advantages of some opportunities that I thought was needed, and you have to give them credit for that.
Part of the Michigan scoring catalyst was from a 290-ft. two run home run belted out by Jennifer Olds in the second inning. The shot jumped over the existing permanent fence at the Don E. Porter Hall of Fame Stadium after hitting the warning track in left field.
“They’re top competition,” said Olds of the Cardinal. “We fought back. We just didn’t play at the top of our game. I felt if we had, we would have won.”
“We needed to be just a little sharper around the edges,” Schock added.
Motycka got the loss on the mound for Michigan. The Wolverines finish the season at 54-13.
Stanford (48-18), who is making its second appearance in the WCWS, advances in the loser’s bracket to play Oklahoma tonight at 5:30 p.m.
Notes from the Diamond
-- Michigan fell to 2-14 in its seven appearances at the WCWS.
-- The Cardinal’s 11 hits equal the most by a team at the 2004 WCWS (UCLA posted 11 hits against Stanford on Thursday).
-- Michigan pitcher Nicole Motycka moved into a tie for sixth place on Michigan’s career strikeout list with (361) two strikeouts today.
-- Stanford junior Leah Nelson extended her hitting streak to nine games.