vs. Michigan State
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Cliff Keen Arena
vs. Northwestern (DH)
Today, 3 p.m.
face NU in
By MELANIE SCHUMAN
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
Another pair of doubleheaders
highlight the Michigan softball team's
schedule today and tomorrow when
Northwestern travels to Ann Arbor
for its Big Ten opener at Alumni Field
(3 p.m., both days).
The Wolverines (2-2 Big Ten, 14-
16 overall) opened their Big Ten sea-
son last weekend, splitting a four-
game series with Ohio State and hold-
ing off late Buckeye rallies.
With Wednesday's game against
Toledo cancelled due to inclement
weather, the Wolverines should be well
rested for this weekend's four games
against theWildcats (14-8),ranked No.
3 in the Mideast Region.
"After our three trips, we've been
pretty exhausted," Michigan first-year
assistant coach Bonnie Tholl said.
"Any time you have a little break, it
gives you a chance to physically and
mentally rest. It was definitely
Although still undecided, Tholl
believes there will be a good chance
that the Wolverines will continue with
last Saturday's three-pitcher rotation,
which includes sophomore Tracy
Carr, the team's regular third baseman.
In her starting pitching debut, Carr (1-
0, 0.82 ERA) went the distance and
notched her first victory as a Wolver-
Junior Kelly Kovach (7-8, 1.49
ERA), the former Big Ten and Michi-
gan pitcher of the year and freshman
Kelly Holmes, whose record stands at
6-8 (3.18 ERA), fill out the rotation.
Kovach, who leads the team in
batting (.289), and is 7-for-15 (.467)
in the last six games, stands only 74
strikeouts away from surpassing the
all-time Wolverine mark of 446.
Michelle Hawkins is the Wildcats'
ace on the mound with a 1.05 ERA and
is expected to see action this weekend.
Monday, Northwestern shut out
Valparaiso 2-0, 4-0 in Evanston, with
Hawkins improving herrecord to 10-2.
Last season, the two teams split
their series, including the Wolverines
idropping a 1-0 extra-innings decision
in Evanston. However, Michigan still
leads the lifetime series, 33-18.
See SOFTBALL, Page 14
Blue squeaks past Oakland
'M' takes advantage of Pioneer miscues for 6-4 win.
By SCOTT BURTON since the weekend. I thought for the insurance run - as a result of Ryan
DAILY BASEBALL WRITER most part they did a good job." VanOveren'sone-outsingle-scored
It may not have been the most Michigan's pitching committee with less than two outs.
aesthetically pleasing game in the his- kept Oakland from doing any serious "That was good clutch hitting,"
tory of baseball, but Michigan's 6-4 damage on the scoreboard. The Pio- Freehan said. "It's a sign of improve-
victory over Oakland yesterday served neers collected only seven hits, with ment. Those are the things that we
its purpose - it gave the Wolverines single runs in the third, fourth, sixth weren't doing at the beginning of the
(5-3 Big Ten, 11-13 overall) a chance and seventh innings. season - winning close ball games."
to play some innings in preparation "The pitchers have an advantage With the warm-up provided by
for their series with Penn State. if they can throw strikes, because the Oakland, Michigan hopes it can g
"We didn't get a full game in all hitters just can't get in a rhythm," into State College and take advantagL
week and we really needed to get Oakland coach Steve Lyoni said. "One of the last-place Nittany Lions (1-6,
outside and get back in a groove," guy throws 85, the next guy throws 7-13). But Penn State has proven that
shortstop Kelly Dransfeldt said. "You 79, then you got a lefty and a righty. it can be dangerous, splitting with
are in game situations and see live You can't platoon very well if they Texas A&M.
pitching, and that's really key for us are switching pitchers every inning." "I would expect that they will battle
right now." Michigan scored its six runs thanks us in every ball game," Freehan said.
Michigan coach Bill Freehan, in to four Oakland errors and a timely "Most likely (their hitting) will be
an attempt to keep his starters' arms two-out RBI. Dransfeldt smacked a aggressive."
live for the weekend, used Heath game-winning, two-run double with The Nittany Lions' aggressiv
Murray, Ron Hollis, Ray Ricken and two outs in the sixth. Brian Simmons' swinging translates to over siW
Chris Newton for an inning each to RBI in the first and seventh, and Scott strikeouts a game and a .241 team
begin the contest. Weaver's fifth-inning RBI also came batting average. Lance Rathmell
Four other Wolverines closed the with two gone. (.329) is the only starter with an aver-
last five innings out, with Mark Onlvthe Wolverines'eighth-inning age above .300.
Temple pitching a perfect eighth to
earn his first win of the year. John
Arvai notched his fourth save, pitch-
ing out of trouble in the ninth.
"It allowed us to keep the conti-
nuity of the pitchers," Freehan said.
"By design a lot of them hadn't pitched
Michigan used eight pitchers on its way to a 6-4 victory over Oakland
yesterday at Fisher Stadium. The Wolverines have won four of their last five.
Oakland 001 101 100 -4 8 4
Michigan 100 012 11X - 6 8 2
WP - Temple, LP - Downs. SV - Arvai; DP - UM 1; LOB- OU 7, UM 8; 28 -
Simmons (UM), Van Oeveren (UM), Oransfeldt (UM). Weaver (UM); SB - Weaver
(UM), Ferullo (UM), Simmons 2 (UM), Zill 2 (OU) 4
Men gymnasts head to West Point for Eastern Regional
By JOSH KARP
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
For once in the life of the No. 7
Michigan men's gymnastics team,
finishing first isn't a priority.
With the NCAA Eastern Regional
tomorrow at West Point, N.Y., the
squad's goal is to advance to bigger
and better things. To be more spe-
cific, the Wolverines want to finish in
the top three in order to qualify for the
NCAA Championships, April 21, at
the University of Nebraska.
"We have every intention of quali-
fying for Nationals," Michigan coach
Bob Darden said. "There is no reason
why not to. If anybody deserves it, the
Michigan gym team deserves that
qualifying berth. They have to earn it,
but they do deserve it."
Joining Michigan in the meet will
be No. 2 Ohio State, No. 6 Iowa, No.
8 Illinois-Chicago, No. 10 Penn State
and No. 12 Illinois. As solid as these
teams are, one of them stands above the
"Ohio State is, by far, heads above
everybody else in the region," Darden
said. "They'd have to really stumble
to fall out of that first qualifying posi-
tion for NCAA's.
UIC, which placed second behind
the Wolverines at the Michigan Invi-
tational, also poses a threat.
"They're a great team," Darden
said. "Like us, they're very consistent
along the board. If they put together a
good, concerted effort, they'll be
tough to beat."
Many factors will play a role in
deciding which teams move on. For
one thing, each team must cut its lineup
from 12 to nine. This may present
problems, because certain gymnasts
specialize on only a couple of events
for some teams. But for others, and in
particular the Buckeyes, it shouldn't
"It won't hurt Ohio State," Darden
said. "They have just a wealth of
talent in the upper echelon. It will be
an unknown factor for some of the
Another dilemma for Michigan is
the status of Rich Dopp. The junior
hurt himself during warm-ups at
Michigan State last weekend, and al-
though he isn't expected to compete in
the all-around, he is vital to the team's
"While we say Rich's condition is
day-to-day, we're going to even say
it's moment to moment. When we get:
into that competition on Saturday,
and the adrenaline's flowing, Rich
will have competed on pommel horse,
parallel bars and high bar, and you
can bet your bottom dollar that he'll
want to get in on floor exercise."
Sophomore Bob Young, the Wol-
verines' leading all-arounder, says th
team must perform well from start t
"We just can't have anyone miss,"
Young said. "We've just got to hit our
sets, and that's all we can do."
Should Michigan do this, it will be
booking a flight to Lincoln real soon.
M' up against top competition at Central Regional*
By TIM SMITH
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
Being an underdog is not a posi-
tion the No. 4 Michigan women's
gymnastics team is accustomed to
After being the favored team in
almost every competition this season,
the Wolverines find themselves hav-
ing to overcome top-seeded Alabama
in the Central Regionals.
The meet will be held in
Tuscaloosa, Ala., so the Wolverines
face the additional task of performing
in front of 10,000 screaming fans,
most of which will be cheering for the
The Regionals determine who will
move on to the National Champion-
ships with the winner receiving an
automatic bid. The rest of the teams
compete for one of the remaining at-
large bids against the regional scores of
teams from around the country. In ad-
dition to Michigan and Alabama, Loui-
siana State and Auburn round out the
Central Regional bracket slated to com-
Although being the underdog in a
sea of crimson may seem like an un-
desirable position, the Wolverines
seem to relish the opportunity of be-
ing able to step up.
"I'd rather come in as an underdog
and come out ahead instead of going
in first and coming in second," junior
Kelly Carfora said.
The Wolverines are used to large
cheering sections at home meets and
many away meets, but the prospect of
not having a big rooting section in
Alabama does not bother them much.
"If we act as if the fans are cheer-
ing for us, that can really help us
instead of hinder us," junior Debbie
Berman said. "We're excited about
being seeded second. Being rated first
is a big added pressure."
Michigan coach Bev Plocki will
miss the Wolverine faithful, but has her
own strategy for making the team feel
right at home.
"It's going to be tough going down
there in Alabama and not having a lot
of fans," Plocki said. "I just told the
kids to think that the cheers were for
Plocki also stated that there are a
few things the Wolverines must do in
order to increase their chance for vic-
tory. She is looking for Li Li Leung to
do a vault like she did at the confer-
ence meet, as well as having Andrea
McDonald continue her consistent
McDonald, who was just awardeq
Big Ten rookie of the year, knows he?
role and said that she must be th6 one
to get the Wolverines on a roll.
"Starting off each event sets the
tone for the rest of the team, so I really
want to do well," McDonald said.
The ever-imposing crowd was on
McDonald's mind, but she too agreed
that it could possibly be more of a
positive than a negative.
"If we use the crowd to our advanO
tage and use it to psyche us up instead
of intimidate us, we can use it to our
advantage and go out and win the
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