Jarring change in atmosphere
Saturday, May 18, 2019
So, two hours ago, Alumni Field was hopping. A full house was on hand to see Michigan take on James Madison on Day 2 of the NCAA softball regional in Ann Arbor, and we were treated to one heck of a game, the pitchers (one named Meghan and the other Megan) went toe to toe and held the batters scoreless for 11 innings in a row.
In the 12th, James Madison got two runners aboard, but Michigan pitcher Mefhan Beaubien wriggled out of the jam to retire the side. Michigan got a runner to third, as we'd done 5 times previously (if I counted right) but this time, finally, the next batter, Madison Uden, came through with a hit for the home team, and Michigan won the 3 hour 50 minute contest by a 1-0 score.
Now, that was the first game of the day. There are two more games on the schedule today, the losers bracket contest between Depaul and St Francis, and the survivor of this game against a ticked off James Madison squad.
But the home crowd has already gone home happy, and I suspect they're not coming back for the evening's entertainment. So the crowd for this second game resembles a crowd that might die up for a late March mid week contest between Michigan and one of our in-state directional rivals (I.e. Eastern or Central or Westen Michigan), about 250-300 people left in the stands, as compared to the 2500 who sweated out the Wolverines' marathon win in game 1. The change in atmosphere isn't unexpected, but it is a little jarring. I might have figured more people would have stuck around. But then again, we nearly got two games worth of action in that first game. College softball games usually go 7 innings, and take about 2 hours. Instead, we saw 12 scintillating innings covering nearly 4 hours. Not that I'm complaining!
Unlike game 1, game 2 has featured some offense. It's 3-1 Depaul after 4 and a half innings, and St Francis just left the bases loaded. But, man, other than for the handful of their fans in attendance, there's just no excitement to the contest. It's like the whole thing is an anti-climax after the drama of Game 1. Which is unfortunate for both teams, they worked all year to get to the NCAA Tournament, only to play before an indifferent crowd. Just the way it goes sometimes I guess.