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This week in Michigan softball: Midweek success and the John Cropp Classic

After mercy ruling Bowling Green on Wednesday, the Wolverines look to topple a ranked opponent this weekend.

NCAA SOFTBALL: MAY 23 Playoff Regional - Michigan v Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Headed into the final weekend before the start of Big Ten play, the Michigan Wolverines softball team looks to continue their early season growth and maybe shock a top-15 opponent in the process.

Here’s this week’s trip around the diamond in the world of Michigan softball:

Recapping the week

After an unexpected weekend off due to inclement weather, the Wolverines returned to the field Wednesday evening to face the Bowling Green Falcons.

From the jump it was a rare offensive show of force for Michigan, as all nine batters in the starting lineup recorded at least one hit on the day. Though the Wolverines scored in all but one of their half innings at the plate, the bulk of the games’ nine runs came in the third inning, as Michigan plated six runs on six hits and batted around to put the game well on its way to a mercy rule finish.

On the mound, the Wolverines gave up just two hits in five innings of work, with Lauren Derkowski earning her seventh win on the year in 3.0 innings of work that saw her strike out five Bowling Green batters. With Michigan up 9-0 through four and a half innings, that was all she wrote for the Falcons as the mercy rule came into effect — the Wolverines’ first such victory since the first weekend of the season.

What’s next?

In Michigan’s final early season invitational before the start of Big Ten play, the Wolverines travel to Lexington, Kentucky to play in the John Cropp Classic.

Headlining the weekend’s slate of games is a pair of match-ups against the No. 14 ranked Kentucky Wildcats. With an overall record of 17-5-1, Kentucky is in the midst of a six game win streak that includes a series sweep over the No. 23 Missouri Tigers. The Wildcats are a deep team that frequently shifts around their lineup, as just two of their batters — catcher Kayla Kowalik and outfielder Rylea Smith — meet the designated minimum plate appearances per game. On the mound, Kentucky is led by ace Stephanie Schoonover, who has thrown 10 complete game shutouts in 12 starts this season while also notching three saves in five relief appearances.

Rounding out the weekend are games against the DePaul Blue Demons and Longwood Lancers. Both DePaul and Longwood have struggled in the early goings this season — posting records of 8-11 and 11-10 respectively — and the pitching staffs of both squads present an interesting opportunity for the Wolverines to continue shoring up their offense, as both squads enter the weekend with earned run averages over 4.00.

Weekend Schedule (all times in EDT, streaming options where available)

Saturday, March 18:

12:30 PM vs Longwood

5:30 PM at No. 14 Kentucky (SEC Network Plus)

Sunday, March 19:

3:00 PM vs DePaul

5:30 PM at No. 14 Kentucky (SEC Network Plus)