No. 1 Michigan blanks Texas

The No. 1-ranked Michigan softball team continued play in the 2005 Women's College World Series on Friday by out lasting No. 7 Texas in a contest featuring two of the finest pitchers in college softball. Michigan ace Jennie Ritter threw her second consecutive shutout, while the Michigan bats tagged National Player of the Year Cat Osterman for three runs in 5.2 innings of work on the way to a 4-0 victory.

After the Wolverines 3-0 victory of the DePaul Blue Demons on Thursday, No. 1 Michigan set their sites on No. 7 Texas and national player of the year Cat Osterman. Osterman was nearly un-hittable through the first three innings recording 8 strike outs, but as the Wolverines batting order made their second trip around in the fourth inning, the Wolverine bats started to get going.

Wolverine centerfielder Alessandra Giampaolo opened the frame with an infield single, beating out a throw from Texas second baseman Chez Sievers after Osterman was unable to control a hard ground ball up the middle. Following the Giampaolo hit, Jessica Merchant connected for the Wolverines second single of the inning by sending a hard ground ball into the leftfield corner to put two aboard for Samantha Findlay, the team leader in runs batted in. Findlay fell behind in the count 0-2, but after patiently watching two balls pass, belted a 2-2 fastball into the gap in left-centerfield scoring both Giampaolo and Merchant to put the Wolverines on top 2-0 after four. Osterman would recover to retire the next three hitters, but the Texas pitcher wasn't out of the woods just yet.

Michigan struck again in the fifth inning, this time off the bat of designated player Nicole Motyka. Motyka sent Osterman's final pitch of the night sharply down the leftfield line scoring Merchant from second base to put Michigan on top 3-0.

Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Jennie Ritter cruised through the Texas batting order. After allowing a single to the first Longhorn batter of the game, Ritter retired the next 20 batters on the way to a one-hit shutout that, like last night, included 12 strike outs.

Michigan would add one final run in the seventh inning to make the final score 4-0.

As a winner in the first two rounds, the Wolverines receive a day off Saturday before returning to the diamond on Sunday, when one win will secure a spot in the national championship.

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