The Michigan Wolverines had a great chance midweek to bring their record to .500 before starting conference play this weekend against Penn State, but they fell at home to Akron, losing 11-9.
This loss certainly stings a bit. Akron is not a good team and that game was a great opportunity to keep momentum going into Big Ten play, as the Wolverines had won five of seven heading into the game.
After the loss, Michigan limps into its weekend series against Penn State sitting at 9-11 on the season. The early stages of this season haven’t been great, but the good news is the start of conference play can serve as a new start. The beginning of the season is obviously important, but Michigan can completely turn around the season during Big Ten play.
First up for is the Penn State Nittany Lions. Michigan hosts Penn State at Ray Fisher Stadium this weekend for a three-game series. Game one is Friday at 4 p.m., game two is Saturday at 2 p.m. and game three is Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Nittany Lions are currently sitting at 12-7 with an impressive win against No. 22 Miami, but most of Penn State’s wins are against lesser competition.
Penn State finished in sixth place (one spot behind Michigan) in the Big Ten last season, finishing 26-29 (11-13 conference).
Like most seasons, I’m expecting the Nittany Lions to again be a middle of the pack Big Ten team. However, that does not mean the Wolverines should be expected to win this weekend’s series. Michigan has lost to far worse teams this season.
Some players to watch for the Nittany Lions on offense are Jay Harry, Thomas Bramley and Kyle Hannon. All three of these guys have been hot at the plate to begin the season and are batting over .300. If Michigan wants to win, it starts with stopping those guys.
On the pitching side of things, Penn State’s four main starters have all started the season pretty strong. Those pitchers are Travis Luensmann, Daniel Ouderkirk, Jaden Henline and Jordan Morales. All have ERAs below 4.00 to start the year, and Luensmann sits below 3.00 at 2.59.
A series win would obviously be huge, but not getting swept would still be a big win for Michigan. Penn State is better than any team the Wolverines have beaten this season, so this weekend will certainly be a tough test, and should provide a good outlook for how the Wolverines will perform in conference play this season.