Whether it be baseball or softball, there is no other position as crucial to a team’s success as the pitcher. Unlike in baseball, however, an ace in the circle might not just affect a single game, but an entire series.
Against the Purdue Boilermakers, Michigan’s Lauren Derkowski did just that — getting her team its third-consecutive series victory off her first and second career no-hitters in the same weekend. While it wasn’t a sweep, the Wolverines continued their push to creep back to the top of the Big Ten, sitting a 1.5 games back from second-place Nebraska with an 8-5 record.
In the first of Derkowski’s gems, Michigan wasted no time giving her run support, plating two runs in the first two innings, including a solo shot to the deepest part of the yard from Melina Livingston in the top of the second.
Up, off and over. @mlivingston17 #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/KlTF6JTCBJ— Michigan Softball (@umichsoftball) April 14, 2023
On the opposite side of the scorecard, the Boilermakers couldn’t even find a baserunner until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Derkowski finally walked right fielder Jordyn Ramos after taking down 13 consecutive batters. Purdue added two more baserunners off a fielder’s choices and an error, but both would be stranded on base after Derkowski fanned pinch hitter Bella Bacon for the final out of the inning.
Though the Wolverines added another pair of runs in the sixth inning, the story quickly became Derkowski’s quest for her first career no-no. For her part, Derkowski was clearly game to finish things off, sitting down four consecutive batters on strikeouts before a fielding error gave the Boilermakers one last chance at breaking things up in the bottom of the seventh. Instead of letting the error phase her, she steeled up even more, finishing things off with an additional pair of strikeouts to cap off a 13-strikeout no-hitter.
A NO-NO FOR DERK. @derkowski11 | #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/8RNDIY2vr1— Michigan Softball (@umichsoftball) April 14, 2023
Games 2 and 3 (Doubleheader)
In the first game of Saturday’s weather-caused doubleheader, Purdue attacked Michigan’s Jessica LeBeau early, plating three runs in three consecutive inning after LeBeau allowed two hits and seven walks, as well as four hit batters.
Though Emerson Aiken and Derkowski combined to douse the fire in the final 2.2 innings, the Wolverines’ offense came one run shy of a comeback, scoring two in the sixth inning off a two-RBI double by Keke Tholl but going down 1-2-3 in their final frame of the game.
After finishing the first game as the Wolverines’ de-facto closer, Derkowski came right back out for the second part of the double header as a starter, allowing just one baserunner through the first three innings. While Michigan gave its ace a bit of run support in the top of the third after Audrey LeClair advanced to home on a wild pick-off attempt, the bats really came to life in the fifth. The Wolverines plated four runs off an RBI single by Ella McVey, a two-RBI triple by Tholl, and a fielding error.
Armed with a commanding five-run cushion, Derkowski cruised through the rest of the game, walking only one batter and putting the rest down with ease. When all was said and done, Derkowski walked off the field with yet another no-hitter; she did not allow a single hit in any of her three appearances on the weekend.
Two Days, Two No-Hitters. @derkowski11 | #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/xYfZabvaTk— Michigan Softball (@umichsoftball) April 15, 2023
After getting the best of the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing last week, the Wolverines complete their season series against their in-state rivals on Tuesday, April 18 in their annual Maize Out at Carol Hutchins Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be on Big Ten Network.