In 48 games in Sierra Kersten’s softball career in Michigan, the sophomore had just seven extra base shots, all seven of which were doubles.
This weekend everything changed.
Kersten appeared in two of the four games at the invitation of Duke. And in those two games Kersten had three strikes, two of which were home runs.
By this point in the season Kersten had been in the lineup, starting with six of the eleven games and usually battling at the end of the order. And for the most part it was justified. This weekend Kersten recorded just one of seven strikes on bats.
But in the two games in which Kersten appeared this weekend, she demonstrated explosiveness at a plate she had not previously demonstrated, so much so that she surprised herself.
“I didn’t believe it, if he went against Duke, I’ll be completely honest,” Kersten said. “I felt a little shocked, we were polishing the whole pre-season, and just to see the difference in effort at the moment.”
The newly discovered pop Kersten was not just a by-product of the strong weekend from Wolverines, but rather the main factor that made the weekend a success. Without home run Kersten on Friday, Michigan’s first game against Duke would have gone for extra innings. Defeat from the Blue Devils would mean another midfield performance and another weekend in which the team struggled with a ranked competition.
But after Kersten’s crucial third inning, Raamahi’s prospects for the weekend changed.
A pair of Kersten’s four bags may have surprised themselves, but they didn’t show up anywhere.
Michigan’s main focus in recent weeks has been on improving his strike. So far he has started the season well, but as in many other years, the slow bits in the big games have been his downfall. And the team talked about it.
“We’re trying to get (our team) a little more laser focus on ball control,” Hutchins said Tuesday. “Now we are a little separated … we try too hard, we think a little. We need to go up there to pass the next field that can be hit. “
Kersten’s speech is the culmination of everything Hutchins said. She did not overload herself on the plate and did not try to move away from what she thought would work, she went to the plate and passed the next serving – twice. And her performance brought dividends.
It’s unclear what exactly the weekend performance will mean for Kersten, it could mean she turned the corner and became more consistent, inflicting a deep ball, or it could be a one-off.
But this weekend was no coincidence, it was the result of Kersten’s thinking.
“I kind of just got into the mentality, ‘If you’re going to go for it, just go for it and swing.’ It was my thinking on the weekends, take the opportunity in front of you and just use it to the fullest.
And she used it to the fullest.