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April 14, 1997 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-14

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4B - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - April 14, 1997

SOFTBALL

softball struggles at plate in doubleheader split*
Blue scores two runs in two games against Northwestern

By Pranay Reddy
Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - Of all things, you would
think pitching would have been the Michigan
softball team's biggest problem after the loss
of star pitcher Sara Griffin to a broken left
arm. But yesterday in Evanston, pitching was
the least of Michigan's concerns.
The Wolverines (5-4 Big Ten, 34-12-1 over-
all) split a doubleheader with Northwestern,
winning the first game, 1-0, before dropping
a 4-1 contest to the Wildcats (2-6, 12-21) in
the second game held at Anderson Field.
Saturday's doubleheader was called due to
rain, forcing yesterday's two games instead of
the scheduled one.
Senior Kelly Holmes buoyed Michigan's
effort yesterday by pitching a two-hit shutout
and winning the first game, despite the
Wolverines' lack of hitting. Michigan was
only able to muster a meager seven hits in the
contest.
Between errors from the Michigan defense
and poor hitting from its offense, Holmes'
pitching all but won the game for the
Wolverines. In addition, Holmes' dominating
performance was Michigan's saving grace on
more than one occasion.
"I couldn't be happier with Kelly Holmes
right now," Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
said. "She has been the leader by example. I
told everybody going into this weekend that
everyone just has a part to do. Our offense is
not doing its part."
Michigan's lack of scoring on the day,
forced Hutchins to pull pitcher Jamie Gillies
earlier than she would have liked.

Michigan scored its only run of the game
during its half of the first inning, as Cathy
Davie's single to right field scored teammate
Lisa Kelley from second base. The run was
one of the few mistakes made by
Northwestern pitcher Jaclyn DeBoard the
entire day - the freshman started and com-
pleted both games for the Wildcats.
"I'm only going to give her X amount of
runs when we're not hitting the ball,"
Hutchins said. "That's really why she went
out so early. It was the toughest call I made."
Nevertheless, it wasn't just Michigan's
ineptness at scoring that forced Gillies'
removal. Michigan committed a total of seven
errors on the day, including five in the second
game alone. Northwestern's half of the third
inning typified the Wolverines' effort in the
second game.
With the score tied, 1-1, Northwestern's
Amanda Peterson reached first after
Michigan shortstop Pam Kosanke's error, as
she sailed a throw over first baseman Traci
Conrad's head.
Gillies, who struggled with her control all
afternoon, then went on to walk Northwestern
second baseman Katie Ballman. When
Lindsey Prezell ripped a shot to right center,
scoring Peterson, Kosanke's error became
even more important. The Wildcats went on to
take a 3-0 lead in the inning, as catcher Jenn
Shull brought home Ballman on a single.
Another error by Kosanke on a grounder hit
by Jill Nesbitt loaded the bases for the
Wildcats. That was all Hutchins needed to see
from Gillies, as she brought in Holmes for
relief - after Holmes had already pitched a

complete game roughly an hour earlier.
"It goes back to being tough," Hutchins
said. Gillies "has to hit her locations bet
and she wasn't hitting her locations."
But even bringing Holmes' was too little,
too late for the Wolverines.
The Wildcats added a run in the top of the
seventh inning to extend their lead to 4-1.
Michigan had a chance to win the game in the
bottom half of the seventh, as the bases were
loaded with two out for Conrad.
However, the first baseman wasn't able to
capitalize on the opportunity, as she tapped a
slow roller back to the mound to end tk
game.
Yesterday's loss was Michigan's first in
four games. Ironically, Michigan scored the
winning runs in the previous three victories in
its half of the final inning -- this time the
Wolverines could not find the plate.
Michigan's victory ended in the same fash-
ion as did Thursday's doubleheader sweep of
Notre Dame - with the outcome decided by
the last at-bat.
Notre Dame-killer Tammy Mika started
surge for Michigan as she rocked DeBoar
first pitch into left field to reach first base.
Mika then went on to steal second base, with
no throw coming from Shull.
Shull's counterpart, Michigan catcher
Jennifer Smith, stepped in to become the
game's hero, by taking a DeBoard pitch deep
into left center to score Mika for the lone run
of the game.
Holmes then ended the game one-two-
three, getting three consecutive groundball
outs to the infield.

ROB GilMORE/Daty
Michigan pitcher Kelly Holmes allowed just two hits in a 1-0 shutout of Northwestern yesterday.
Wolverines looking for,
answers as hitting slump
continues with Griffin out

By Josh Kleinbaum
Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - It has often been said that
pitching wins ball games. And in the first game
of a doubleheader at Northwestern, that proved
true for the Michigan softball team yesterday.
But as the Wolverines (5-4 Big Ten, 34-12-1
overall) learned in the second game, you need
some hitting, too.
Michigan won the first game, 1-0, before drop-
ping the nightcap, 4-1.
"You don't score one run and win very often,"
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. "We did it
in the first game, and we got away with it."
Kelly Holmes' two-hit gem in the first game
saved Michigan's anemic offense, shutting out
the Wildcats and helping Michigan hold on for
the 1-0 win.
So what happened to the potent offense that
was scoring four or five runs a game before last
weekend's series at Iowa?
The obvious answer is the loss of Sara Griffin,
who broke her arm in an infield collision with
first baseman Traci Conrad last weekend. The
junior's pitching has overshadowed the fact that
she is a .400 career hitter.
Since Griffin's injury, the Wolverines have
dropped three of the seven games they have
played and could have easily lost three more.
They needed late-inning rallies at both ends of a
doubleheader Thursday to pick up two wins
against Notre Dame and slide by the Wildcats in
the opener yesterday. All three games could have
gone the other way.
But the loss of one batter still does not explain
the collapse of a lineup that contains six .300 hit-
ters.
"We're only missing one hitter, and she was
number four or five for us in terms of average,"
Hutchins said: "Right now, we're a team that's
really fragile. What we need to do is take the
pressure off and let them play.
"We caved into pitches when we don't have
two strikes and we don't have to swing. That's
called staying mentally tough. It's what we talked
about all year, and it's the only chance they're
going to have to do anything."
One area that was conspicuously absent from
the Wolverines game was clutch hitting. In the
first game, Michigan stranded 10 runners in the
first six innings before finally driving one home
'in the seventh.
In the second inning, Kellyn Tate hit a pop-up

Righ now we're a
team that's really
fragile. What we need
to do is take the
pressure off and let
them play."
- Carol Hutchins
Michigan softball coach
to left field with runners on second and third.
Three innings later, catcher Jen Smith hit a weak
grounder to the pitcher for an easy out with the
bases loaded. Both batters came up with two
outs. Both had terrific scoring opportunities.
Both failed.
Smith finally had one clutch hit in the seventh,
a bloop single to left center field that scored
Tammy Mika, the only run of the game.
In the nightcap, the Wolverines continued to
struggle to get runners home. While the eight
runners they left on base in the second game was-
n't as bad as the 10 from the first, it's still noth-
ing to write home about.
The Wolverines mounted a seventh-inning
rally in the second game, trying to win the game
in their final at-bat for the fourth consecutive
time. Tate and Melissa Gentile both singled, and
Lisa Kelley reached base on an error, loading the
bases for Traci Conrad with two outs. Conrad,
who represented the winning run, could only
muster a soft grounder back to the pitcher, who
threw to first for the easy out to end the game.
"I don't know what we're going to do differ-
ently," Hutchins said. "We've been working all
year on hitting the ball where it's pitched, pulling
the inside pitch and sending the outside pitch,
and now it's up the them to get it done. We're not
getting it done, that's the bottom line."

Youthful
defense a
problem
By Pranay Reddy
Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - So Sara Griffin is
out. So what?
This is what - the Michigan softball
team has gone 4-3 since the loss of the
all-world pitcher/third baseman extraor-
dinaire. The three losses include defeats
to Purdue and
Northwestern.
So what? Well,
the Wolverines 0
had never lost to
the Boilermakers
before last
Tuesday. And yes-
terday's loss to the
Wildcats was
Michigan's first
in two years.
It's easy to say that Michigan's prob-
lem simply revolves around the loss of a
star pitcher - it's much more than that.
Michigan is playing some of the worst
defensive softball of the entire season.
In their past four games, the
Wolverines have committed a large
number of errors. And the majority of
those errors have come from the left
side of Michigan's infield. Why?
Consider: Both third base
Melissa Gentile and shortstop P
Kosanke are freshmen. And sometimes
their play has shown it. In the weekend
twinbill with Northwestern, the two
combined for a total of three errors -
out of a total of seven for the
Wolverines.
Not a huge number, but in this case,
the errors are simply a matter of quality,
not quantity. The two have committed
their errors in crucial instances whit
have led to runs being scored. Kosank
error in the third inning of yesterday's
loss is a prime example, as the Wildcats
capitalized with a go-ahead run.
Granted, the entire Michigan squad,
not just the freshmen, has taken its
lumps on the defense. But the difference
is Kosanke and Gentile have the most
balls coming their way. Therefore, their
consistency is essential.
In addition to the problems in
infield, Michigan pitcher Jamie Gil
is having a tough time of her own after
being thrust into the starting rotation.
Yesterday, Gillies gave up three runs,
two unearned, before being pulled in the
third inning.
It was the second time in two starts
that the freshman had to be relieved by
Kelly Holmes. Against Notre Dame,
Gillies was taken out in the fifth inning
after giving up three runs.
Obviously, in order for Michigan
maintain its high standard of play in the
Big Ten, Gillies will have to pick up the
slack with Griffin's absence. However,
there could be another important reason
for Gillies' immediate improvement;
In Michigan's past two doublehead-

ROB GILMORE/Daily
The Michigan softball team had no problem getting on base against Northwestern this weekend. I was
advancing the runners it did get on base that posed the problem. The Wolverines scored one run In each
game of yesterday's doubleheader en route to a 1-0 win and 4-1 loss in Evanston.

Holmes masterful in wake of injury to Griffin

By Josh Klelnbaum
Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - Kelly
Holmes is just about the only
thing on the Michigan soft-
ball team that has been per-
fect lately.
The senior pitched master-
-fully yesterday, almost sin-
gle-handedly beating
Northwestern in the first
game of a twin bill and keep-

Northwestern shortstop
Tami Jones to ground out to
the shortstop, ending the
inning.
"The toughest decision I
make besides deciding
whether we're going to start
a game in bad weather is
when to change the pitcher,"

terday for the Wolverines.
Conrad, who suffered a
sprained shoulder in a colli-
sion with Griffin last
Saturday, batted as the desig-
nated player in a double-
header against Purdue on
Tuesday but had not returned
to first base.
Conrad then sat out on
Thursday after receiving a
Cortizone shot in her left

A strong wind coming in
from right field was likely
the only thing keeping the
ball in the park.
"The wind cost us a home
run, no doubt," Hutchins
said.
EVANSTON WOES: In the
last five years, the
Wolverines have had more
than their fair share of suc-
cess against Northwestern -

as the coldest place in
America to play softball.
But the weather yesterday
was mild - warm by
Northwestern standards.
"This is the nicest weather
we've played in in over a
week," Hutchins said. "For
Northwestern, this is about
as good as it gets?'
DEBOARD DOMINATES:
Northwestern pitcher Jaclyn

Michigan
c o a c h
C a r o l

i 1"NIVOWNS Aa

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