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This week in U-M softball: A chance for redemption after a shaky weekend at Clearwater

The Wolverines are looking to get back on the right track.

NCAA SOFTBALL: MAY 22 Playoff Regional - Michigan v Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coming out of Clearwater weekend, the Michigan Wolverines softball team had more than their fair share of licks taken by ranked competition. But were several potential positives to take away from the road trip, and the Wolverines will look to expand on them in the hopes of a much more positive weekend at Stanford.

Here is this week’s trip around the diamond for Michigan softball.

Recapping the weekend

There’s no way around saying it — the Wolverines’ performance at the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational was, at best, a mixed bag.

In their opening game of the weekend, Michigan took an 8-2 loss to the No. 20 UCF Knights, who mashed four home runs (three in the first three innings). The Wolverines managed to salvage their first day in Clearwater, however, after holding off a late-game comeback bid by the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to squeak out a 7-6 victory in the nightcap.

Michigan’s second day at the Invitational was a mirror copy of the first — a scrubbing in the first game of the day, followed by a close victory in the second. This time around, the scrubbing came against top-five opponent Oklahoma State, which despite giving up six runs to the Wolverines plated a whopping 15 of its own, run-ruling Michigan after six innings.

In the nightcap, the Wolverines went down three runs early against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but responded quickly with four runs of their own and ultimately escaped with a 5-4 victory.

In their final game of the Invitational, Michigan posted a commendable offensive performance to the tune of 10 hits. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the No. 16 Duke Blue Devils matched that and ultimately were more successful in generating runs from those hits, defeating Michigan, 6-3, to hand the Wolverines their third and final loss of the Invitational.

Previewing Stanford

Michigan spends spring break this season in Palo Alto, California to take part in the annual Stanford Invitational. The Wolverines play three teams this weekend — Boise State twice, Nevada once and the No. 16 Stanford Cardinal twice.

The Boise State Broncos are an interesting team when it comes to their record entering the weekend. Though they ride into Palo Alto on the backs of a five-game win streak — including three run rule victories — their record against high-major teams this season is a paltry 0-4, including a pair of run rule blowouts at the hands of the top-10 Georgia Bulldogs.

The Broncos to watch for are catcher Serena Huchingson and infielder Eliyah Flores, who both enter the weekend with batting averages over .360 and on-base plus slugging totals over 1.100. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 pm Ann Arbor time Friday, followed by 1:30 pm on Saturday.

Wedged in between the Wolverines’ two games against Boise State is a matchup with the Nevada Wolf Pack. Though they have yet to play a high major team, the Wolf Pack’s 9-1 record is nothing to sneeze at. Nevada has a staggering four different batters with a batting average over .400, and is led by catcher Charli Hawkins, who is tied for the team lead in hits with 13 and runs batted in with nine. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 pm Ann Arbor time on Friday.

Capping off the weekend’s festivities is the arguable main event — a two-game showdown with Stanford. Coming off a weekend that saw them defeat the Georgia Bulldogs twice in Athens, the Cardinal boast a 9-2 record and are once again one of the teams to beat this season. Their strength lies in their all-star pitching staff — freshman NiJaree Canady enters the weekend with an ERA of 0.00 while senior Alana Vawter has a respectable 1.32 ERA of her own. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 pm Ann Arbor time on Saturday, and 4:30 pm on Sunday.