It was no secret that the fate of Team 41 would ride on the left shoulder of a relative unknown. Carol Hutchins is no stranger to greatness making its presence felt early; from the likes of Nikki Nemitz, to Jordan Taylor, to Haylie Wagner, to Megan Betsa, the Wolverines have been spoiled with teenagers who come onto campus ready and able to blow away college competition. Leading into this season, there were whispers from within the program that a girl from Newport, MI was poised to join that lineage. Meghan Beaubien reached legendary status over her high school career, obliterating in-state competition and piling up impossible stats and accolades, but until she toed the rubber on the college stage, all the speculation in the world was worth not a single strike.
Over the course of the first two weeks of this softball season, Beaubien has exceeded the wildest dreams of the Michigan hopeful, and on Saturday evening in Tallahassee, the nation took notice as a star was born. The stats, although preposterous, do not do her performance justice. Hell, this blog doesn’t have a prayer of doing her performance justice. Beaubien was nearly flawless in a 7-inning shutout of the 8th-ranked team in the country on their home diamond, but more than that, she made it look easy. All the worries about youth, rotational depth, and run support were blown away by the collective breeze of empty Seminole swings. A preseason top-50 foe in the circle in Meaghan King and another in the batter’s box in Jessie Warren were rendered afterthoughts. Pitching is an art, and this weekend, with an impossible repertoire of spin, speed, and precision, Meghan Beaubien crafted her first masterpiece.
Beaubien is human, as are her teammates, and our memories. Aside from ESPN’s recordings and a few Tweets, her 6 innings of perfection will not live on for posterity. They are numbers in a box score of an early non-conference game amidst a 5-4 start. But sometimes, in trying to quantify greatness, in trying to properly evaluate the specific significance of fleeting human achievements as threads in a larger narrative fabric, we lose sight of what we’re watching for in the first place. Defeat is an inevitable, omnipresent shroud over our past, present, and future. We admire the transcendent among us because they seem to exert a measure of control over this fact. For Florida State hitters, with each demoralizing drop and unreachable rise, Meghan Beaubien served as proof of its certainty. For a Michigan fanbase, on a Saturday night in Tallahassee, a 19-year-old girl from Newport stood athwart the odds and, if only for one night, proved it false.