#5 Michigan Softball 2017 Preview

Michigan Wolverines
Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten
 Michigan Logo
Michigan has been the model of consistency under the direction of head coach Carol Hutchins. They are usually very dominant in the circle and can lock down most opposing offensive lineups. At the plate they can blow games open in a heartbeat and they have a very deep and talented everyday lineup that can crush the ball for power and hit for a very high average thanks to an ability to create quality at-bats. The 2017 Michigan softball team does have to replace Sierra Romero, Sierra Lawrence and Sara Driesenga, which won’t be easy but with some reloading of talent the Wolverines should be peaking by the NCAA Tournament.
2016: 52-7, 22-2
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Carol Hutchins
Key Departed Players:
Sierra Romero, IF, .451 BA, 19 HR, 79 RBI, 16 SB
Sierra Lawrence, OF, .429 BA, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB
Sara Driesenga, P, 131.1 IP, 2.13 E.R.A., 40 BB, 95 SO
Kelsey Susalia, UTIL, .337 BA, 11 HR, 55 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Tera Blanco, IF/P, .404 BA, 12 HR, 66 RBI
Abby Ramirez, IF, .380 BA, 0 HR, 15 RBI
Lindsay Montemarano, IF, .323 BA, 10 HR, 41 RBI
Aidan Falk, IF, .315 BA, 7 HR, 42 RBI
Kelly Christner, OF, .313 BA, 6 HR, 33 RBI
Megan Betsa, P, 204.2 IP, 1.98 ERA, 113 BB, 306 SO
Sierra Romero was the national player of the year in 2016. She put up unbelievable numbers across the board. So to say it will be easy to replace Romero right away for Michigan is just simply not realistic. Having said that, the torch will be passed to players like Tera Blanco and Lindsay Matemarano to carry the offense forward in 2017. Blanco and Montemarano combined for 22 homeruns and 107 runs batted in last season and hit the ball very consistently. So the question to be asked is can these two players up their production to a combined 30 or more homeruns and 130-140 runs batted to offset some of the lost production from Romero. If so, then Michigan will be just as lethal offensively and cause headaches for opposing pitchers. Abby Ramirez, Aidan Falk and Kelly Christner are back as well this season for the Wolverines and their ability to hit for a high average combined with timely clutch hits will only lengthen the lineup and make it harder for teams to contain Michigan on a game by game basis. Megan Betsa will be the workhorse in the circle as the number one starter. And for Betsa, she just simply needs to continue to progress across the board in order to maintain her status as an elite starting pitcher. Betsa did walk 113 batters in 204.2 innings and if that number can drop to under 100 without sacrificing the strikeouts, then Betsa should battle Oklahoma’s Paige Parker for national pitcher of the year honors in 2017. Michigan should outlast Minnesota in the Big Ten title race and more than likely be back in Oklahoma City for another shot at the national title.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Madness 2017 Draft Rankings:
#5 Megan Besta