The No. 1-ranked Michigan softball team defeated two-time defending champion and No. 7 seed UCLA, 4-1, in 10 innings to claim the team's first-ever national championship on June 8, 2005. The Wolverines, who finished 65-7 on the year, gave U-M its 52nd national championship in school history and the second for a women's program when Women's College World Series MVP Samantha Findlay connected for a dramatic three-run home run in the top of the 10th to break a 1-1 tie.
The Wolverines took the lead for good in the 10th after Tiffany Haas reached on an error and Alessandra Giampaolo legged out an infield single. One batter later, Findlay turned on a 1-1 pitch and belted a shot over the fence to give Michigan a 4-1 lead.
Running on fumes, Jennie Ritter gutted out a complete-game, 119-pitch effort, striking out four and holding the Bruins to just five hits. Ritter, who would later be named the conference's Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year, finished second in the nation with 38 victories. As for Findlay, she became the first freshman position player to ever be named WCWS Most Outstanding Player as she hit .409 with four extra-base hits and eight runs batted in. Her game-winning home run tied her with Jessica Merchant at 21 each for a new U-M single-season record, while her Michigan-record 77 RBI was the nation's best in 2005.
THEY SAID IT
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
"Jessica Merchant summed it up: it wasn't really about that game, it's about what this team has done all year, all the experiences that they've had. They believed from day one, and I think our senior class were great leaders all year. Obviously, it's a great moment for Michigan, Michigan softball, for all of our alums and the Big Ten Conference. I'm just so proud. But I'm most proud of these kids, they were incredible here all week. I have to admit when we got that No. 1 ranking -- that came out in the middle of winter, I believe -- my biggest concern was staying the course, finishing the season and getting here, because that is often your hardest challenge. Getting here was hard and winning here was really hard. For us to be the champion, I don't think there's a word for it."
Wolverine freshman Samantha Findlay
"It was a great team, I couldn't ask for a better team. I would give up any individual awards over this team. Playing for this team has meant the world to me, and I couldn't have asked for a better leader."