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April 05, 2000 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-04-05

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 5, 2000 -1

PITCHER PERFECT
By David Roth - Daily Sports Writer

ith a 9-1 pitching record, a
.333 batting average, a
Michigan-career record two
grand slams and a team-leading.28 RBI,
freshman Marissa Young has turned a
mew heads in her young career. These are
heads of outfielders watching the ball go
beyond their glove's reach, batters
watching the ball zip by them and
onlookers viewing this star's aberrant
pitching and hitting dexterity.
All the while, Young has not missed a
start for the Wolverines, despite battling
a torn ACL sustained earlier this season
and knee problems, for which she will
have surgery immediately after the sea-
son in May.
Young's name seems to be a contra-
diction. What she lacks in years she
makes up for in accomplishment. In
addition to her outstanding season
achievements, Young had racked up
quite a few accolades even before she
suited up in Maize and Blue.
Young's jersey number at Mater Dci
High School in Santa Ana, Cal., has
already been retired; an engagement ring
Sas already been placed on her finger by
er new fiance, Antoine, who Young has
been dating since her freshman year in
high school; she was a first team selec-
tion on the All-Californian team and she
starred on Junior Olympic teams early in
her teens.
YOUNG GuNS
Young began her softball career when
she was seven years old. At her request,
her parents enrolled her in the City
ecreation League.
There her father Robert, who had
experience coaching at the high school
level, took on the role as the recreation
league coach.
It didn't take very long to figure out
balls and bats ran in the blood of the
Young family.
Young's uncle, Gerald, played for the
Houston Astros, and the young slugger
was now distinguishing herself as a great
ballplayer too.
"With her athletic abilities, determina-
tion, hard work, and desire, she became
a very good softball player and pitcher,"
Young's mother Marcella said. "She lis-
tened and learned and did very well."
Soon softball became the Young fami-
ly's way of life.
"Evening and weekends, we were
always busy with practice or games. Our
families knew if they wanted to see us
iey would have to come to the softball
park."
When Young was 12, she switched
over from playing softball in the recr-c-
ational leagues to playing in the travel
leagues.
There she realized that softball was no
longer just a game.
"In the rec leagues, most everybody's
out there for fun, or some kids are out
there because their parents make them,
S'oung said. "But when you start playing
in your summers and in your travel team,
it becomes a business.
"That was a big transition because I
went from playing for my dad and hav-
ing a bunch of fun to really getting seri-
ous,"Young said.
The new seriousness for softball came
as the Young family found out that travel
ball was for the "serious softball players
and the ones who wanted to get a schol-
arship, Mrs. Young said.
* On her travel squad, Young played six
to seven games a weekend and four or
five of those games she would pitch.
Originally she became a pitcher
because her team needed one, but even-
tually she started mastering the art.
Her parents paid for private pitching
and hitting lessons, and by the age of 13
she was choosing her own pitch selec-
tions.
Also during this time period her dad
' egan her on a weight training to devel-

op her physically.
"I got stronger, started throwing the.
ball harder, and started hitting harder,"
Young said.
HIGH SCHOOL HIGH
Young's play in the summer leagues
raised eyebrows. And when given the
chance to play competitively at Mater
Dei High School, she stepped up to the
;late in a major way.
When I came in my freshman year I
was expected to do big things,' Young
said.
She did.
Mater Dei won the 1996 California

Interscholastic Federation Division I
championship that year. Young was
named the 1996 Most Valuable Player
for CIF Division I and the South Coast
league. She was also named California
and Orange County Freshman of the
Year and she was named to the all-CIF
team.
It seemed like the only thing Young
couldn't do by that time was get her dri-
ver's license. She instantly became a
team leader.
"I'm not as much a vocal leader,"
Young said. "I lead by example"
THE PRICE OF GLORY
Seeing her potential, Young's father
took it upon himself to make sure Young
would utilize her talent. But sometimes
Young felt the pushing was a bit too
much, especially during high school, a
time also for social development.
"I wanted to go out and socialize while
he felt I should be working on my game,"
Young said. "There'd be days when I'd
come back from high school practices at
five o'clock at night and get started on
my homework, and he'd make me go
back into my garage and hit some more.
Whenever I thought I was doing good
enough, it wasn't good enough for him."
But Young felt that working hard,
despite social repercussions, was indeed
the best option. Young describes her
father as "the greatest influence in my
softball career.
"He was always supportive of me and
always had time to work on my game
with me," Young said. "The more I kept
working, the better my game got. It got
to the point where I didn't need my dad
to tell me what to do and I started doing
it on my own."
Though Young claims that she and her
dad have had their "ups and downs," her
dad strongly feels that working so hard
was worth it.
"It has always been my philosophy in
life to do the best and to be committed to
anything worthwhile doing," Mr. Young
said. "As a parent I have tried to pass that
on to both of my daughters."
Mr. Young realized that he might have
gone overboard with making his daugh-
ter work so hard. But he didn't want his
daughter to waste her potential.
"I recognized her talent at a young
age," Mr. Young said. "It bothers me to
see young people not to fulfill their tal-
ent - it's one of my pet peeves"
His pushing was understandable. His
younger brother had played baseball pro-
fessionally, but "he lost his starting job
because he wasn't willing to work." Mr.
Young said.
Still, he feels that he has a special rela-
tionship with her that will improve in
time.
"With her at Michigan, she probably

learned to appreciate me a lot more as a
person;' Mr. Young said. "The older she
gets, the more and more she will appre-
ciate me"
Young does appreciate her father, and
attributes her success to him. And lucki-
ly for Young, if she felt dad was taking
softball too seriously, she could always
rely on her mom.
"My mom was more laid back about
the situation,"Young said. "She wasn't as
aggressive and didn't push me as hard.
Dad was a pusher. Mom was a com-
forter."
THE SwEEr SUCCESS
Whether she liked it or not, Young was
taking the Sun Belt by storm. The sum-
mer between her sophomore and junior
years, Young led her summer league
team, the Gordon Panthers, to a national
championship, erasing the runner-up sta-
tus the team had earned a year before.
The season after she was named to the
All-America Second team. Indeed long
before her career at Mater Dei was over,
Young was catching the eyes of college
recruits. But one summer day in August
of her junior year, Young had the oppor-
tunity to visit Ann Arbor.
"Mv sister Jessica had her national
tournament here, so she came out here
and I came with her;'Young said. "I told
the coach I was going to be in town and
I wanted to look at the school. I fell in
love when I came here - the tradition
and academics were really important in
my decision making"
Young committed to Michigan, and
with the tough college choice off her
mind she could focus on playing ball and
having fun her senior year. Finally, she
had achieved her dream of getting an ath-
letic scholarship to her top-choice school.
Though she could never lead her team
back to the State Championship, Young
did leave quite a legacy at Mater Dei.
"In my I 1 years of coaching softball at
the high school level, I would rank
Young at the top of the list for the most-
rounded player I have ever coached;'
Mater Dei softball coach Ed Ulloa said.
"She is not only a talented player, she
has the ability to stand out as a leader
and a great motivator to her fellow team-
mates. She has left a legacy at Mater Dei
that will be hard to fulfill."
MAIZE CRAZE
Young is thrilled to be wearing maize
and blue. ,
"Regardless of the outcome of the sea-
son, I know I'm here playing for great
coaches, working with great kids, and
getting a great education;'Young said.
The outcome should be fantastic,
though. The Wolverines are 26-6 and
currently are first in the Big Ten. Each of
those six losses have been by only one

run. Personally, Young has won nine of
ten decisions with a 1.31 ERA.
"We expected her to be an impact
player," Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
said. "Our expectations were high and
she's living up to them. She's going to
break a few records in her time here."
Despite Young's tantalizing numbers,
Hutchins is most impressed with what
can't be shown on paper.
"The thing I've been most impressed}
with is her game savvy," Hutchins said.
"It's not anything that was taught to her
- she's just got it."
Now Young can focus on winning
championships in college like she did in
high school.
"Winning Big Tens is our focus;'
Young said. "Though our ultimate goal is
to get to Oklahoma City (for the College
World Series)."
THE CRYSTAL BALL
Young has worked hard at one thing,
and has become one of the best at it. She
hopes her softball can take her to the
Olympics in 2004.
"If I don't make it to the Olympics, I
think I'll hang up my cleats,"Young said.
Though she could also play for the pro
leagues, she doesn't think she could raise
a family doing that. She has set plenty of
athletic goals, but Young plans to do
more during her career at Michigan than
simply round the bases.
"I want to get into criminology and
eventually become and FBI investiga-
tor," Young said. "I might want to go to
law school first before going to the acad-
emv.
Her goals right now are to keep play-
ing hard and to rehabilitate from her
knee surgery this summer. She also
looks forward to staying in the spring to
play ball, but she wants to head home to
see her fiance.
Wherever the future may take her,
Young knows that she has more backing
than her rapid windmill pitch, power
swing, and athleticism. Her parents, sis-
ter, coach, fiance and many of her
friends in Santa Ana are avidly following
Young's career at Michigan.
Frustrated and
disappointed
with the University?
Need help making
sense of your
U of M experience?
Check out
http://universitysecrets.com

PETER CORNUE/Daily
Freshman pitcher and firstbaseman Marissa Young is Michigan's new double
threat. With a 9-1 record and a .333 average, Young's hard work is paying off.
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Third time's the charm
Marissa Young is in elite company as a Michigan double threat. In
the past six years, the Wolverines have had three players who, in
their top years, were both offensive and defensive powers.
Strikeouts ERA Batting avg.

2000 Marissa Young* 65

1.31

.333

Young

1996 Sara Griffin'
1994 Kelly Kovach

184
116

1.10 .408

1.30

.306

* stats after 32 gamaes this season

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