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September 06, 1990 - Image 40

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-06

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 6, 1990

Pitching still keys

'M' baseball

by Matt Rennie
Daily Baseball Writer
Contrary to what the headlines said, there was indeed more Michigan
baseball action in Fisher Stadium than in the 15th District Court.
Coming off a 1989 season in which they had the best regular-season
record in the Big Ten, the 1990 Wolverines had quite a reputation to
fulfill. If the season proved anything, it was that the so-called
prognosticators of college baseball ought to keep their day jobs.
After its top three starting pitchers from 1989 left Ann Arbor for the
professional ranks, Michigan was predicted to be in need of strength on
the mound. However, the Wolverine hurlers went on to lead the
conference in earned run average for the second year in a row.
Southpaw Jason Pfaff, named the team's most valuable pitcher, posted
a 6-2 record and a 2.71 ERA, and co-captain Kirt Ojala contributed a 6-3
mark to complement his 2.25 ERA. Closing the door for the Wolverines,
or more appropriately slamming it shut, was sophomore relief ace Todd
Marion. Marion struck out nearly one batter per inning and was named the
team's most improved player.
On the other end of the spectrum, the alleged offensive explosiveness
of the Maize and Blue failed to materialize until the second half of the
season. Perhaps the single player who epitomized the team's offensive
rejuvenation was Dan Ruff.
Ruff, along with many of his teammates, suffered through a dismal
start, but then came alive to contend for the team lead in runs batted in.
Against Michigan Sate in East Lansing, Ruff had what coach Bill Freehan
called "a career in one afternoon," collecting 14 RBI's on the afternoon as
the Wolverines completed a four-game season sweep of their rival
Spartans.
The one steady performer for Michigan was Tim Flannelly. The pre-
season all-American batted over .400 and collected team MVP honors.

Il Freehan (above) assumed control of the baseball programifter
rmer coach Bud Middaugh resigned under pressure. The team is
irrently serving a two-year probation.

The softball team graduated two key seniors after last year's 3
disappointing season and now they are left with big spikes to fill.
Disappointing
Softball team fails
to hit expectations
by Sarah Osburn
Daily Sports Writer

al

Scandal
Jb Matt Rennie
Daily Baseball Writer
;.,Before it ever took the field this
spring, the 1990 Michigan baseball
team had taken its place in the books
of Wolverine history. Unfortunately,
this was much the same way Richard
Nixon wrote his chapter of the
history of the presidency.
For the first time ever, the
NCAA placed a Michigan team on
probation for rules violations, which
occurred under the tenure of former
baseball coach Bud Middaugh. The
NCAA handed down the two-year
probation sentence last February in
response to the findings of a joint
investigation between the university
and the Big Ten conference.
While the investigation report
listed 43 violations of the NCAA
rules, the most serious of these
involved recruiting transgressions,
the payment of players by
Middaugh, and violations of Big Ten
travel squad limitations.
,Once the university discovered
these violations, it co-operated fully
with the NCAA and the Big Ten in a
combined effort to clean up the
program.
"At the University of Michigan,
we believe that the right way is the
only way," Michigan president
James Duderstadt said. "We are,

rocks baseball program

Freehan hired to clean up
Middaugh 's misdoings

M

determined to restore and protect the
integrity of Michigan athletics."
The majority of the violations
centered around the sales of football
game programs, a program which
Middaugh oversaw. In an effort to
ease the financial burden of his non-
scholarship players, Middaugh paid
them more than the standard rate
which other sellers received.
As a result of this diversion of
athletic department funds,
embezzlement charges were brought
against Middaugh. The former coach,
who resigned his position on July
12, 1989, was cleared after Judge
George Alexander dismissed the
charges. Alexander said that while
Middaugh did indeed make excessive
payments to his players during the
1987 football season, there was no
adequate proof that the money
belonged to the university.
In the aftermath of the
investigation, the University was
faced with the arduous task of
rebuilding its baseball program. The
man who must lead the Wolverines
down the road to recovery is the new
coach Bill Freehan.

Freehan, who graduated from
Michigan in 1966, earned all-
American honors and set single
season batting average records,
which still stand today. Freehan
seems to have the integrity that the
athletic department was seeking. "I
feel we have a baseball coach who
can overcome (the probation)," ath-
letic director Jack Weidenbach said.
While the task which is set
before Freehan is unenviable, the
former Detroit Tiger catcher knew
what he was getting into.
"I took this job knowing there
were major problems with the
program," Freehan said. "I did not
know the situation, but I was told to
expect the worst."
While the Big Ten handed down
penalties in addition to those
imposed by the university, Freehan
said that by far the most
disheartening was the two-year ban
on post-season play.
"(The ban) affects the way I can
motivate my team, and the way I can
talk to recruits," he said.
Some noted the inclusion of the
1990 season as one of the seasons

affected by the penalties as a factor
in Freehan's favor because the
probation will only hamper one
more recruiting class.
This year's players felt the proba-
tion more deeply than others, as they
played a season without much in the
way of goals. The hardest part for
most of the Wolverines was to pay
the price for the misdoings of their
former coach.
"I don't think it's fair that we all
have to suffer because of what took
place in the past," third baseman
Tim Flannelly said. "It was one
man's actions. It's unfair that a hard
working group of people like we are
has to pay for that."
During the entire difficult
situation, Freehan appears to have
become the leader that then-athletic
director Bo Schembechler envisioned
when he hired the new coach.
"I took this job to get the cloud
off this program and to help it
through a difficult time," Freehan
said.
Da"

The Michigan softball team began the 1990 season with very high'
expectations: after three consecutive second place finishes the Wolverines;
had their sights set on a Big Ten title.
Though they lost four letter winners, the team returned a plethora of
talent. Eleven letterwinners returned - among them, Stacey Heams,'
who was named the team's rookie-of-the-year in 1989. She joined
Bonnie Tholl, who returned for her junior season after making first team
All-Big Ten and the All-Midwest Regional.
Another junior, Julie Cooper, was a Bud Lite All-Tournament sel-
ection in 1989, and Andrea Nelson made the All-Midwest Regional team
and won the Bud Lite Invitational MVP.
Senior Sara Dyksterhouse was named to the 1989 second team All-
Big Ten. "Sara is real consistent. She has been a rock at first base,"
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. "She has been in her position for
four years, and she is what makes our defense work."
1990 team captain Jenny Allards' list of achievements is extensive.:
To name just a few, she made first team All-American, was named Big
Ten MVP, made first team All-Big Ten, and was a three-time Big Ten:
player-of-the-week.
With all the talent, it's easy to see why expectations were high as the
Wolverines opened the season during a spring break trip to Florida. After'
a rocky start, they came back to win the South Florida Invitational.
The Wolverines then traveled to San Jose California in an attempt to
repeat as Bud Lite Invitational champions. They failed to win even one
tournament game. On top of the losses, shortstop Bonnie Tholl
dislocated her shoulder in the competition. This caused her to miss the
Ohio State tournament.
With Tholl's return, the Wolverines managed a split with Big Ten
rival Minnesota. Michigan lost the first two games, but then came back
to take the next two, 10-1, and 4-0.
Michigan had an unsuccessful series against Ohio State, losing three
out of four games.
"We are all disappointed that we lost three games," Allard said.
The breaks began to fall the Wolverines way as they came back to
sweep Central Michigan and Northwestern. This temporarily put them
back in the championship race.
However, a four game sweep by Iowa took them back out again. The
Wolverines couldn't muster even one run in the series as they lost 1-0,
3-0, 5-0, and 1-0.
Michigan's bid for the 1991 Big Ten title will be hindered by the loss
of key seniors. Allard and Dyksterhouse will leave a void that will be4
very difficult to fill.

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Need the hot news fast?
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Women's Varsity
Softball Tryouts!
- Sept. 12 & 13
. 4:30 p.m.
" Contact Carol Hutchins

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