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April 10, 1998 - Image 11

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-10

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Scoreboard. Ehrl " Tracking M' alumni
NBA NHL MAJOR LEAGUE Holy Hobey! Former Michigan hockey player Brendan
OASKETBALL HOCKEY BASEBALL Morrison - the first Wolverine to win the Hobey Baker
Detroi 1012, NY Islanders at Atlanta 4, aad-wsnmdt h mrcnAl
WASHINGTON 83 BOSTON, Inc. PITTSBURGH 3 award - was named to the American Hockey League A
CLEVELAND 91, Toronto at CHICAGO CUBS 8, Rookie team. Morrison, who plays for the Albany River
Chicago 85 CAROLINA, inc. New York Mets 7 Rats, leads the team with 35 goals and 49 assists.
Indiana at Phoenix at Tampa Bay at
ATLANTA, inc. DETROIT, inc. DETROIT, pod.
Seattle at Phladelphia at Texas 11,Friday
DALLAS, inc. FLORIDA, inc. CHICAGO WHITE SOX 0 April 10, 19981
On the road
4 "E'again

The Michigan baseball team has put itself in a hole in the Big Ten standings, as
has stumbled to a 2-6 conference start. A four-game series against Minnesota
could be the cure when the Golden Gophers come to Fisher Stadium this weeker
*Big T en troubling
'M' baseball team.

Wolverines
head to
Minnesota
tomorrow
By T.J. Barka
Waily Sports Writer
There is an old adage that states that
good pitching beats good hitting. While
this may often hold true, the Michigan
and Minnesota softball teams don't
seem to find a problem delivering key
hits.
The second-ranked Wolverines (8-0
Big Ten, 31-3 overall) head to
Minneapolis to face the 16th-ranked
Golden Gophers (7-1, 33-8) in a crucial
series tomorrow that will decide the Big
Ten leader.
"Every time we walk on the field in
the Big Ten this time of year, it is
important," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "Minnesota is always
competitive and they put out a great
effort."
But something has to give as both
teams enter with 13-game winning
streaks.
The Golden Gophers are similar to
the Wolverines in other ways as well.
Both teams have talented pitching,
good defense and, most important, dan-
gerous hitting. In fact, the Gophers and
Wolverines have eerily similar team
batting averages, as Michigan's .344
average - good for eighth in the nation
- is only one point ahead of
Minnesota's ninth-place average of
.343.
Leading the Minnesota hit parade is
shortstop Shannon Beeler, who is bat-
ting a blistering .447 on the season withn
48 RBI.
Outfielders Steph Midthun and
Amber Heglund also are deadly at the
plate, as both are ranked among the top
30 nationally in batting.
"Containing Minnesota is no small
task." Hutchins said. "They are a great
hitting team, just like we are. Outhitting
them is key for us to be successful in
this series."
That scenario isn't farfetched for the
Wolverines, as they boast two hitters
also ranked in the top 30 - catcher
Melissa Gentile and first baseman Traci
Conrad.
Gentile has been the power in the
Michigan lineup this season, smacking
five home runs thus far - just one
away from the single-season record.
Gentile is also on pace to break the sin-
gle-season batting average mark, hitting
at a .444 clip. She also leads the team
with 33 RBI.
Conrad has also been on fire this
season, matching Gentile's .444 batting

By Josh Borkin
Daily Sports Writer
A Big Ten championship is highly
unlikely the Michigan baseball team.
The squad has not come close to living
to its preseason top 10 ranking, but
it is struggling just to get out of the
Big Ten cellar.
The Wolverines (2-6 Big Te, 12-
15-1 overall) have lost their credibility
as a top team in the Big Ten. In the past
two weekends, Michigan has lost three
out of four games to both Illinois and
. h i o
state. This
cekend, This weekend's series
ichigan W ": idnitan vs. M"nineota
isvill try to Where: Ray isher Stadiur
W~hen: Fidoy 13 pant),
nend am Saturday (doubleheader
r r at i c starting at 1 pan.), and
.Season as Sunday (1 pa)
innesota Notabes: Mike Cervenak is
Comes to battin, A02 with 10 homers
P n n and 26 R81t while Bobby
A r b o r. Scales has raised hit bating
M ichigan average over 80 points from
has fol- last year (3961.
awed the
Dme pattern the last couple of weeks
4- beat up on small non-conference
opponents during the week and then
get shelled against Big Ten opponents
on the weekends.
"We use our midweek games to pre-
pare for the weekends," Zahn said.
"Our offense has been there for us the
fast couple of weekends. Our pitching
just needs to be more consistent."
this weekend's series against
linnesota (6-2, 22-6) will open
Michigan's Big Ten home schedule.
Are Wolverines original Big Ten home
opener was agaimnst Ioswa, but it was
snowed out March 20-22.
Minnesota - ranked 24th in the
nation - is coming off last weekend's
yweep of Iowa.
- Additionally, Minnesota has won 12
out of its past 15 games, including six
traight.
"We realize that Minnesota is a very
good team" second baseman Bobby
Scales said. "But we have to treat them
like any other opponent and stay
focused. We are a good team and need
o put everything together."
In fact, it seems Michigan has the
potential to be a very good team. The
-Wolverines came into this season with
hree All-Big Ten players (Jason
0

Alcaraz, Derek Besco, and Mike
Cervenak), and a preseason All-
America pitcher in J.J. Putz.
But until last weekend, the four and
five spot - Bryan and Derek Besco
- were mired in a I for 39 batting
slump. This past weekend, however,
both Bescos connected on three-run
homers.
But the offense is hardly the prob-
lem.
The Besco brothers are hitting
again, while Mike Cervenak has hit 10
home runs and is bating .404.
Also, Bobby Scales has emerged as
a leader, batting just under .400. The
offensive firepower does not end with
Scales, as four other Wolverines are
hitting over .320.
"To win a string of games, our
pitching has to be there," Zahn said.
"Steinbach is a guy we are depending
on, and we need him to pitch a lot bet-
ter if we are to win."
The Wolverines will play four
games this weekend - one today, a
doubleheader tomorrow, and a single
game on Sunday.
The potential starters this weekend
against Minnesota are Brian
Berryman, Bryan Cranson, Steinbach
and Putz.
Berryman (2-2, 5.40 ERA), who has
the lowest ERA of the four, will start
the first game. Cranson (2-3 10.27
ERA) pitched five innings of no-hit
baseball against Detroit last week and
will pitch game two.
Steinbach (1-5 8.71 ERA) will
attempt to rebound from a poor relief
effort at Ohio State, and start in game
three. Pcnlz (0-0 10.22 ERA), who
lotely has been utilized in relief, will
try to earn his first win in the fourth
game.
Michigan hockey player and relief
pitcher Matt Herr started practicing
this past week.
"Matt is still a little banged up from
hockey" Zahn said. "He has thrown
the last two days, but we don't plan to
rush him. We hope he will start play-
ing next week some time."
The Wolverines currently share the
last spot in the Big Ten with Michigan
State and Northwestern, and if the
Wolverines fail to capture at least two
games this weekend, their hopes of
capturing a Big Ten crown may be
over.

Melissa Gentile and Traci Conrad have been difficult outs for opposing pitchers, as both players are hitting .444 this season,
The Wolverines have been difficult to beat this season, only losing three out of 34 games.

average. The two-time Big Ten Player of
the Week, Conrad has been a prototypi-
cal leadoff batter, leading the team in
runs and stolen bases.
"Our hitting has really carried us
------------this sea-
This weekend's games s o n , "
Who: Michigan at Minnesota H ut c h i n s
Wfahere: Minneapolis said. "Not
When:1:00 tomorrow (DH) only are we
noon Sunday getting a lot
Notables: The Wolverines and of hits, we
Gonlden Gopihers are ighting
tr tie Big'fen lead as tie are getting
conference season hits its hits at cru-
halfivay point. Both Michigan cial times
and :Minnesota boast 13-game as well."
winnig streaks, so something W i t h
has to give. both teams
boasting
elite offensive attacks, pitching is going
to be a key to the weekend.
With that in mind, the Wolverines
could have an ace in the hole - a rest-
ed Sara Griffin.

Griffin has been the glue that holds
the Wolverines together this season, as
she boasts a perfect 18-0 record with a
1.03 earned-run average. With 18 of
Michigan's 31 wins, Griffin had
received the lion's share of the work
thus far this year.
That said, Tuesday's sweep of
Central Michigan was very important.
Jaime Gillies and Marie Barda pitched
complete-game victories against the
Chippewas, allowing Griffin to relax.
Griffin "hadn't been as sharp lately
as she has normally been," Hutchins
said. "She struggled a bit against Ohio
State last weekend, so this rest was
important for her."
The Central Michigan doublehead-
er was even more important to Barda,
as the freshman overcame some subpar
performances earlier in the season to
throw a one-hit shutout.
"Barda had the best pitching perfor-
mance of the year for us," Hutchins

said. "She came a quarter of an inch
from a no-hitter and she helped get
(Griffin) some rest, something which
we had wanted to do."
That rest - Griffin has not pitched
since Sunday - will be a huge factor,
considering that she had thrown in the
five games previous to Tuesday. Whip
Griffin is a competitor, she realizes the
importance of a few days of rest.
"After sitting out most of last year, I
enjoy pitching all of the time," Griffin
said. "I needed the rest though."
The Wolverines are hoping that their
performance will be just as good as the
timing for Griffin's rest. Michigan is set
to play its most important series of the
year thus far, a fact not lost on the
Wolverines.
"They are definitely a good team
and there is no way we are going to
overlook them,"Griffin said. "We could
win two games this weekend, but a
sweep would make my year."

Nebraska has big expectations for secondary

By Darren Ivy
Daily Nebraskan
(U-WIRE) LINCOLN, Neb. - Although the
Nebraska secondary doesn't have a senior, Nebraska
defensive backs coach George Darlington said he is
expecting big things from his group of young guns.
Gone from the national championship team is
senior safety Eric Warfield, who likely will be
selected in the NFL Draft later this month.
Warfield's replacement is Clint Finley, a 5-foot-
11, 200-pound sophomore from Cuero, Texas. With
the addition of Finley, the Cornhuskers will have
two juniors and two sophomores as starters this
spring.
"It's ironic," said Darlington. "Even though we
are younger, we are more experienced."
Juniors Mike Brown and Ralph Brown and sopho-
more Erwin Swiney - all starters on the national

championship team - give the Huskers a lot of
experience. Swiney's status is uncertain because of a
groin injury.
The secondary - after being criticized by fans
and being picked on by opposing quarterbacks much
of last season - is now battle-tested and "looking
for some respect this year," said Ralph Brown, a
two-year starter.
Brown said shutting down Peyton Manning and
Tennessee in the 1998 Orange Bowl gave the team a
lot of confidence and helped the secondary assess
where they want to be.
"We want to become more dominant against the
run and pass," Brown said. "I think we can be the
best (secondary) or up there with the best in the
nation if we work hard."
Sophomore Mike Brown said part of becoming a
more dominant secondary will involve taking on a

new attitude.
"We have a lot to prove with a new coach" Mike
Brown said. "The secondary has to be leaders. We
have to step up and prove we can play with the best
of them."
With the style of defense Nebraska plays, the
backs understand they have an important role.
"If they want to throw the ball, it's our job to stop
them," Mike Brown said.
Darlington said he wants to see more intercep-
tions. Finley said he thought this group of players
should be able to do that by pressuring opposing
quarterbacks and capitalizing on their mistakes.
"We will play physical just like always," said
Finley. "That's what Nebraska football is all about.
The offense gets the credit for wearing down people
with physical play, but the defense does the same
thing."

Big Ten Troubles ...
It has been feast or famine all year for the
Michigan baseball team, with the Wolverines
eating up non-conference opponents and stum-
bling against Big Ten teams. Take a look at
Michigan's numbers in eight conference
games:
Michigan Opponents

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Bat. Avg. .254
ERA 7.98
Runs (total) 47
Hits (total) 70
Wins 2

.336
4.88
64
91
6

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