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September 05, 1991 - Image 61

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-09-05

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition -Thursday, September 5, 1991 - Page 7

Softball
taes wild
ride to
third .place
by Ken Davidoff
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's softball
team's 1991 season was like a
roller coaster, and when the ride
finally stopped, the Wolverines
(15=9 in the Big Ten, 36-19 overall)
finished the season in third place in
their conference.
Despite the inconsistency of the
squad's play, 'Wolverine coach
Carol Hutchins was pleased with
the overall performance.
"We had an excellent season,"'
she said. "We just had a couple of
bad days that cost us early."
Indeed, if not for one lost week-.
end against Big Ten champion Iowa,
Michigan would have had a legiti
mate chance at winning the confer.-
ence. However, the Wolverines
scored only one run in four games
that weekend and thus could no
longer control their own destiny.
Hutchins, concedes that her players
might have been psyched out by the
"Iowa phenomenon.
The team showed' character,
though, when it followed this dis-
appointment with a doubleheader
sweep against Michigan State.
"That was a big win," Hutchins
said. "We needed to bounce back."
Another important series 'took
place at Northwestern, where the
Wolverines 'took three out of four
despite opposition from both the
Wildcats and the elements.
"We played exceptionally
well, especially in such ungodly
weather," Hutchins commented.
Senior leadership played a big'
role in the team's success. Pitcher
Andrea Nelson, catcher Julie
Cooper, and shortstop Bonnie
Tholl all contributed greatly to
the cause, both statistically and
otherwise.
"They were an excellent class,"
Hutchins said. "They played con-
sistently, and they kept the team
focused."
Unfortunately, a year in which a
team has a strong senior. presence is
usually. followed by a young,

Netters rebound from down year

by Becky Weiss
Daily Sports Writer
With fifteenth-ranked David
Kass at No. 1 singles and rookie Dan
Brakus at No. 2, Michigan men's
tennis team set out to renew its rep-
utation as perennial Big Ten cham-
pion, a reputation which came into
question after the Wolverines' dis-
appointing 1989-90 season.
The 1989-90 team lost five of its
six singles players, including
Malavai Washington, who is now
on the professional circuit. The
Wolverines' 11-15 finish marked
coach Brian Eisner's first losing sea-
son in his 21 years at Michigan.
The 1990-91 season began with
the opposite scenario. Most of the
singles lineup consisted of return-
ing players. After frosh Brakus de-
buted at No. 2, the remainder of the
singles players moved down a posi-
tion.
The Wolverines were confident
that their talent and experience
would guide them to an improved
1990-91 season. Anticipating an easy
victory, the team began its Big Ten
season by edging Wisconsin, 5-4, in
its closest match of the season.
Each team won three matches go-
ing into the doubles competition,
and split No. 2 and No.3. The match
was decided by Kass and Brakus' 6-7,
6-3, 6-3 victory.
"We knew we were going to
win. It was just a matter of getting
it together," Brakus said. "We knew
they were playing the best they
could."
Expectations for a laugher were
substantiated in the Wolverines'
next Big Ten match, as they de-
feated Northwestern, 5-0. Doubles
matches were not played.
With the Blue/Gray Champi-
onships stricken from the Wolver-
ines' schedule, they faced almost a
month without a match. The lapse
was especially long for the doubles
teams, since they did not compete
against Northwestern.
Starting April 6, the possibly
over-rested team played six Big Ten
matches in two weeks. In the first
week, they defeated Illinois and
Purdue, but split their weekend
matches, losing to Indiana and win-
ning at Ohio State.
The next weekend was similar as
the Wolverines defeated Iowa, but
lost to Minnesota, both by 5-4
scores. Eisner considers the Iowa
match the best dual meet team ef-

fort. He thought all players were
mentally competing all out for the
first time of the season.
"If we had done this before, we
wouldn't have lost to Indiana or
Minnesota," Eisner said.
Eisner used the team's last dual
meet against Michigan State as a
chance to experiment with the
lineup in preparation for the Big Ten
championships. Struggling in previ-
ous matches, the No. 1 and No. 2

doubles teams were switched. John
Karzen was paired with Kass and re-
placed Brakus at No. 1. Eric Grand
and Brakus were in the No. 2 posi-
tion.
Another change was Mitch
Rubenstein's promotion to No. 4
singles from No. 5. His loss to
Michigan State's Kevin Seckel (4-6,
6-3, 6-3) marked his first Big Ten
loss of the season. Michigan won
the match 8-1.

Women's tennis takes fourth
in regular season, tourney

'. J UAJ " " ,
As a sophomore righthander, Kelly Forbis helped pitch the Wolverine
softball squad to a third-place finish in the Big Ten. Were it not for a lost
weekend against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan would have been a
legitimate contender for the conference championship.

by Adam Miller
Daily Sports Writer
Before the season, the Michigan
women's tennis team was predicted
to finish fourth in the Big Ten
standings.
At the end of the regular season,
the Wolverines did indeed take a No.
4 seeding into the Big Ten Tourna-
ment in Madison, Wis. And at the
tournament, their 1-2 showing was
enough to earn them, well ...
Fourth.
Four was a favorite number for
Michigan this year. The Wolverines
opened and closed the regular season
with four-match winning streaks. In
February, it looked like Michigan
was worthy of a top-three seeding,
as it didn't lose an individual match
until their fourth match of the sea-
son, whitewashing Toledo, Bowling
Green and Northern Illinois. West-
ern Michigan drew first blood, but
the Broncos still went down at the
hands of the Maize and Blue, 8-1.
All of these wins came at home,
in the friendly Track and Tennis
Building. In fact, Michigan was 10-0
at home in 1991. However, while
the Wolverines were undefeated at
home, they only had a single road
victory, a 7-2 rout of Ohio State.
Trouble started when the Wolver-
ines hit the road Feb. 27 for the
warmer climate of Florida. Their
first loss was to South Florida, as
USF convincingly beat the Maize
and Blue, 6-3. The Lady Seminole
Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla.,
closed out the southern trip, where
Michigan took out South Alabama,
6-3, but lost to host Florida State,
7-2.
Upon returning to the Midwest,
Michigan traveled to Evanston to
open the Big Ten schedule against
nationally-ranked Northwestern,

the eventual No. 3 team in the Big
Ten. The Wildcats were not friendly
hosts, edging the Wolverines in a
tight match, 6-3.
Recurring injuries to its No., 1
singles player, junior Christine
Schmeidel, and a variable schedule
made Michigan seem like two dif-
ferent teams at times. In the next
four matches, Michigan beat lesser
teams, Miami of Ohio, 8-1, and
Boston College, 5-4, but were
soundly beaten by nationally-ranked
Wisconsin, 9-0, and Notre Dame, 7-
2.
After the Notre Dame matclY,
things started to gel for coach Bitsy
Ritt's squad. Sparked by the play of
captain Stacy Berg at No. 2 singles
and Amy Malik at No. 5 singles, the
Wolverines won seven of their last
eight regular season matches. Their
only loss came April 12 at Big Ten
champion Indiana, a 7-2 Hoosier
pounding.
Before the tournament, Berg was
optimistic of the Wolverines'
chances in Madison.
"We may be seeded No. 4, but
we're aiming for No. 1," she said.
Such was not to be. Michigan eas-
ily won its first match against
Michigan State, but faltered in its
last two, to Northwestern and 'Ws-
consin. Wisconsin blanked Michigan
in the tournament semi-finals, 6-0,
and Northwestern defeated tle
Wolverines in the third-place
match, 5-2.
However, things are looking up
for next season, and a top-three con-
ference finish seems to be a realistic
goal. Berg is the only loss from this
year's roster, and Michigan will
have seven seniors on the 1992
squad.

untested squad. Nevertheless,
Hutchins has confidence that the
1992 version of Michigan softball
will come through. New signees
like pitcher Kelly Kovach, short-
stop Lesa Arria, and catcher Kim
Clark will be counted on to com-
'We had an excellent
season. We just had a
couple of bad days
that cost us early'
-Carol Hutchins,
softball coach
pensate for the loss of the seniors
and aid the team in its quest for the
Big Ten title.

"We'll need them," Hutchins
said of the incoming rookies.
"They'll decide if this will be a big
year or a rebuilding one."
The first-year players will not
have to go at it alone, though. There
is a fine crop of returning student-
athletes who will have another
year of experience to their advan-
tage. Hutchins is counting on out-
fielder Stacey Heams, infielder
Shelly Bawol, and first baseman
Heather Lyke to provide the lead-
ership needed to compete.
Add to this returning pitchers
Julie Clarkson and Kelly Forbis
and solid contributors like out-
fielder Patti Benedict and catcher
Karla Kunnen, and the Wolverines
seem ready for another interesting
season. Say what you want about
roller coasters, but if nothing else,
they're a lot of fun.

_ _ :

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