#14 Michigan Softball 2021 Preview

Michigan Wolverines
Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten
 Michigan Logo
In 2019, the Michigan Wolverines received a #15 seed into the NCAA Tournament, before being upset in the Ann Arbor Regional by James Madison.  Michigan struggled out of the regular season gate, starting 6-8 before going 34-3 to finish the regular season and winning both the Big Ten regular season and tournament crowns. The Wolverines were led by five seniors in the field with Faith Canfield earning All-Big Ten Honors, and Natalie Peters and Alex Sobczak being named second team All-Big Ten.  Freshman Lexie Blair also earned All Big-Ten accolades.  In the circle, sophomore Meghan Beaubien made All-Big Ten for her performance as well.
2019: 45-13, 22-1
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Carol Hutchins
Key Departed Players:
Faith Canfield 2B, .404 BA, 9 HR, 38 RBI
Natalie Peters CF, .352 BA, 1 HR, 31 RBI, 15 SB
Alex Sobczak 1B, .336 BA, 10 HR, 42 RBI
Mackenzie Nemitz DP, .288 BA, 5 HR, 31 RBI
Katie Alexander C, .280 BA, 10 HR, 26 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Meghan Beaubien, LHP, 1.87 ERA, 30-6 W/L, 228.1 IP, 229 SO
Alex Storako, RHP, 2.02 ERA, 14-6 W/L, 142.1 IP, 190 SO
Lexie Blair, LF, .406 BA, 6 HR, 54 RBI, 11 SB
Natalia Rodriguez, SS, .303 BA, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 12 SB
The top of the Big Ten is improving.  Coach Carol Hutchins’ defending conference champions will be battling Minnesota and Northwestern for the 2021 Big Ten crown.  Hutchins is the all-time leader in NCAA Division I wins with 1,571.  The Wolverines will have to reload, but fortunately Michigan returns their entire pitching staff from 2019. Senior lefty Meghan Beaubien proved she can be most anyone’s ace in 2019. Junior right-hander Alex Sorako was not far behind Beaubien.  Leftfielder Lexie Blair will lead returnees in the field after hitting .406 as a freshman to lead the Wolverines.  Shortstop Natalia Rodriguez will hold down the left side of the infield.  A key position is catcher and who will replace Katie Alexander behind the plate.  Sophomore Hannah Carson is the likely incumbent, having started eight games in 2019 as catcher with a .296 batting average.  Coach Hutchins does have a few holes to fill, but she got a good look at most of this roster during the shortened 2020 campaign. While it will be a challenge to win the Big Ten title, Michigan should expect a seed in the NCAA Tournament again in 2021 with the expectations to make it to the Super Regionals.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament