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April 22, 1996 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-22

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6- The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, April 22, 1996

SOFTBALL

'M' fally
catches
Minnesota
3yOba Stilluan
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan softball teamnhas finally
caught the Golden Gophers from behind.
Despite owning ahighernational rank-
ing~ throughout the season, the Wolver-
ine's, since losing their Big Ten opener to
Iovya on March 30, have found them-
selves chasing a Minnesota team that
refused to cave until this weekend.
While No. 8 Michigan took 2-of-3
fromn Indiana over the weekend, Purdue
was busy doing the same to the No. 13
Golden Gophers.
The combination allowed Michigan
(lS-3 BigTen, 38-11 overall) to take over
thetop spot in the conference from Min-
nesota by percentage points.
Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins
downplayed the race 1
agginst Minnesota.
"Our key to success
is 1staying focussed. Notebook
That's the most im- .
portant thing - we
can'twoyaboutbany- t
one else," Hutchins
said. "You just want
to keep everything in your control."
The Wolverines will have their show-
down with Minnesota in a three-game
weekendserieson May 4-in Minneapo-
lis.
"I'm looking forward to playing (Min-
nesota). That' 11 be a good series," sopho-
more outfielder Kellyn Tate said. "But
we can't look too far ahead, because we
have Ohio State this weekend." r
HOLMES BACK ON TRACK: Wolverine
jnior pitcher Kelly Holmes is showing
signsthatshe isbreaking outof her recent
slump.
In her last three starts before last week's
dobleheader against Purdue, Holmes
posted a 4.67 ERA with one win and two
no-decisions.
Since then, however, the junior has
started to resemble the Holmes that re-
corded a no-hitter earlier this season.
In her last two starts, Holmes is 1-
with a 1.50 ERA. Against the Hoosiers
Saturday, she allowed one earned run
while striking out three and walking two
in a complete game.
"Kelly pitched well. We're pleased
with her - she's back," Hutchins said.
Following the Purdue game, Holmes
assessed her own performance.
"my pichsweooking werdt ll,"n HoMes-
said. "Pitching a good game and a com-
plete game gives me some confidence."
AND THE MICHIGAN RBI RECORD
HOLDER is...: ... still former slugger Patti
Benedict. But after notching one more
RBI this past weekend, senior third
baseman Tracy Carr needs five more to
srpass the record of124that Benedictset
in 1993.
A GAME OF LEAPFROG: With a double
against Wisconsin last weekend, Carr set
a Michigan record for career doubles.
Thanks to pitcher Sara Griffin, though,
that record is in jeopardy. The
sophomore's double against Indiana Sat-
urday, her only one ofthe weekend, gave
her37careertwo-baggers. Shenow trails
Ca, who hasnot doubled inher last four
games, by one.
BIG TEN A MAJOR FORCE IN NATION:
while Michigan moved up toNo.8 in last
week's USA Today/NSCA Coaches Top
25I oll, three otherBig Tenteams occupy

spots in the Top 20 - Minnesota (No.
13), Iowa (No. 15) and Indiana (No. 19).
A fifth team from the conference, Michi-
gan State, received votes as well.
Arizona tops the rankings for the sixth
consecutive week after receiving all 20
first-place votes.
Au REVOIR TO THE SENIORs: The four
Wolverine seniors will be honored when
Michigan hosts Ohio State next Saturday.
The ceremony, which will recognize
seniors Cheryl Pearcy, Kathryn
Gleason, Erin Martino and Tracy Carr,
will be conducted between games of a
doubleheader.
A HUTCHINS MILESTONE: Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins posted her 200th
conference victory this past weekend. In'
her 12th year as head coach of the Wol-
veines, Hutchins has led Michigan to a
440-226 (.661) overall record and a 201-
95 (.679) Big Ten mark.

Lack of offense
woes fcia
against Gophers

By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan's offense was stopped -
temporarily, at least.
When the Wolverine softball team
rolled into Bloomington on Friday, it was
expecting to outscore the Hoosiers.
And why not?
In Michigan's first matchup with Indi-
ana at the Florida State Lady Seminole

Invitational on
March 16, the
Wolverines ex-
ploded for 11 runs,
sending the Hoo-
siers home in only
five innings. Al-
though it was in a
tournament for-
mat, and the atmo-
sphere was differ-
ent, the Michigan
offense was the

c o '
4
-
z

same this weekend as on that day in
March.
But this powerful lineup couldn't pro-
duce when it counted, and that is what
may cause problems down the stretch.
In the second game of Saturday's
doubleheader, Michigan had everything
working in its favor.
The squad was facing a pitcher who
had thrown seven full innings in the first
game. The Wolverines had scored two
runs in the ninth inning of the first game
to gain the victory. And they had momen-
tum.
A 4-2 win on the road is impressive
enough, let alone coming against Gina
Ugo, the Big Ten's top pitcher.
That momentum was stopped cold by
Ugo on Saturday.
The offense, which was hitting .337
after dominating Purdue on Wednesday,
managed only one run on five hits.
Center fielder Kellyn Tate, leading the
team with a .396 average, went 0-for-3.
Traci Conrad, the batter with a 17-game
hitting streak, had only one hit in the
contest. In fact, not a single Wolverine
had more than one hit.

Without baserunners, Michigan ha*
trouble manufacturing runs and creating
options. The patented hit-and-run was
ineffective, and extra-base hits were non-
existent.
All of this combined to spell a 2-1
defeat at the hands of the team that is
following the Wolverines in third place.
Michigan is in the heart of the Big Ten
race, having captured the top spot after
two Minnesota losses this weekend.
But to stay on top, Michigan needs tg
cross the plate - in bunches.
That was displayed in the 6-1 onslaught
by the Wolverines yesterday.
Scoring hasn't been a problem on the
whole this year, as Michigan has aver-
aged over five runs per game in the Big
Ten. Games in which the Wolverines
scored seven, nine and even 10 runs were
commonplace -and so were Ws.
Michigan is now 8-0 in Big Ten games
in which it scored at least five runs, which
demonstrates the importance ofthe bat to
the Wolverines. And the record without
output is even more symbolic.
In games where the Michigan offense
is held to less than three runs, the result is
a single victory against seven defeats.
This is the key to beating the No. 8
Wolverines. In the NCAA tournament,
Michigan will need to win the low-scor-
ing games, not just the dogfights, to ad-
vance through the bracket.
In Michigan's three Big Ten losses,
has managed totals of one, two and four "
runs. Measly run totals get the Wolver-
ines in a hole from the outset by putting
additional pressure on the Wolverine
pitcher to throw strikes.
That kind of stress is what creates a
difficult situation for whoever is on the
mound. The job of a pitcher is to keep the
score low enough to keep her team in the
game.
At Michigan, keeping the score low is
what has spelled defeat.
For all the talk about the pitchers being
the glue of the Blue, it is the lack ofhitting
which is the reason for the Michigan's
losses.

Michigan's pitching and defense, along with timely hitting, have helped the Wolverines win this season.
Wolvennes can w wiout power

By Andy Knudsen
Daily Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON-Sara Griffin's
homer over the left field fence yester-
day was only the Michigan softball
team's seventh dinger of the season.
But the Wolverines have already
proven that when they are on their
game, they don't need outbursts of
power to win.
Just ask the Indiana Hoosiers.
Through six innings of yesterday's
6-1 Michigan victory, Indiana pitcher
Gina Ugo had only surrendered seven
singles, but the Wolverines turned
them into a game-opening five runs.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
didn't feel her team was sharp during
Saturday's doubleheader split with
the Hoosiers, particularly as it could
only score one run in Saturday's 2-1
loss in the nightcap.
But yesterday was a different story.
"We did get on the plate some and
get aggressive, swinging at the first
pitch." Hutchins said. "We said,
'swing early in the count,' because
(Ugo) gets ahead and then she's
tough."
Ugo was named Big Ten pitcher of
the week last week and had a confer-
ence-low ERA of 1 .03 entering the
weekend.
"Gina Ugo is probably the best
pitcher in the conference," Hutchins
said. "From their perspective, to get
through the (Big Ten) tournament,
she's a key player because she can
take them through it."
Hutchins saw her team's confidence
level against Ugo work as a chain
reaction.
"Once one or two of (our hitters)
get confidence, they all get a little bit

more and it makes a difference," she
said.
And Michigan manufactures runs
as well as McDonald's manufactures
hamburgers.
The Wolverines jumped on the
scoreboard first yesterday after Tracy
Carr was hit by a pitch in the second
inning. She moved to second when
Ugo couldn't handle Jennifer Smith's
bounce back to the mound. Carr took
third when Smith was tagged out on
Jessica Lang's grounder to second
and then scored on Kathryn Gleason's
fielder's choice ground-out.
Michigan got on the board again
with three runs in the fifth. The inning
started with Erin Martino receiving a
free pass to first, followed by a Cheryl
Pearcy bunt that was slow enough to
get Martino to second ahead of third
baseman Aimee Lonigro's throw.
Kellyn Tate then singled both run-
ners home and advanced to third when
leftfielder Heather Henriott let the
ball roll to the left field fence.
Tate then raced home on Traci
Conrad's grounder to shortstop
Monica Armendarez, beating the
throw home.
Tate notched another RBI when she
had the last of four Wolverine singles
in the sixth-inning.
After her 11-game hitting streak
ended April 10, during which she was
20-for-48 (.417), Tate seemed to be
struggling -at least by her own high
standards.
But her three singles and three RBI
in yesterday's victory should ease any
worries held by Michigan fans or her
coaches.
"Kellyn (Tate) had some key hits and
that was good to see because she was

due to have a few," Hutchins said.
After nine plate appearances against
Ugo on Saturday, Tate knew what she
needed to do to be successful.
"I learned (Saturday) that (Ugo was)
going to throw me a lot outside. So what
I tried to do is not get too far behind the
count and look for the first good one,"
Tate said."After she got one strike, she
kept pushing it out farther. So my ap-
proach was to get in there and not let her
get so far ahead of me."
Tate also knows what she has to do
to remain an impact hitter.
"When I get in trouble is when I
start thinking too much. I almost out-
think myself," she said. "Whereas,
when I get up there not thinking any-
thing - focusing on the ball instead
of the pitcher - I do my best."

MAtRKFRIEDMA4N/Daily

Michigan's Kathryn Gleason puts all her effort Into this throw.

m

,: .-

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