Before the start of this weekend's play, first-place Northwestern was one game ahead of Michigan in the loss column in Big 10 competition. With Northwestern defeating Michigan State Friday and earlier today, and Michigan doing the same against Illinois, first place will be very much at stake in Sunday's Wildcat-Wolvernine double-header in Ann Arbor (although each team has two additional conference games remaining after facing each other). As summarized in the Saturday game story from the Michigan softball site:
The victory runs Michigan's record to 33-12 overall and 11-3 in the Big Ten, while Illinois falls to 23-27 and 7-8. With a Northwestern sweep at Michigan State this weekend, the Wolverines remain in second place in the Big Ten behind the Wildcats, who are 35-10 overall and 13-2 in the Big Ten.
Michigan will vie for first place in the conference and a chance to win its third straight Big Ten regular-season title when the Wolverines host the Northwestern Wildcats in a doubleheader Sunday (April 30) at noon at Alumni Field. The Wolverines will also celebrate Senior Day on Sunday, honoring [Stephanie] Bercaw, [Tiffany] Haas, Grace Leutele..., [Becky] Marx and [Jennie] Ritter between games.
UM actually has one more regular-season home game remaining, Wednesday night against Eastern Michigan, but this is a non-conference game.
Ritter went the full seven innings in the pitcher's circle against Illinois on both Friday and Saturday, so it will be interesting to see how much throws in the two games against Northwestern Sunday.
Northwestern's Saturday game story also provides some interesting facts:
*The Wildcats have now won 10 straight games.
*In Saturday's game, Michigan State issued no fewer than three intentional walks to the Wildcats' Garland Cooper.
*Northwestern's top pitcher, Eileen Canney, only pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief Saturday; combined with the 7 innings she pitched Friday, her total is 11 1/3 for the weekend, meaning that she'll be a little more rested than Michigan's Ritter.
UCLA followed its 8-2 rout of the University of Arizona on Friday, by edging Arizona St. 1-0, Saturday. Tomorrow's UCLA-ASU rematch is the only thing that now stands in the way of the Bruins' sweeping all six games this season from the two Arizona schools.
In SEC play, Tennessee and Georgia split their Saturday twin-bill. The Bulldogs took the first game 5-3, whereas the Vols retaliated with a 12-0 five-inning blow-out in the second game (presumably under some type of "run rule" provision).