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September 08, 1999 - Image 53

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-08

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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - 3E:

Cold weather can't stop Michigan nine

By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Writer
NOTRE DAME - Bo Schembechler once said
"Those that stay will be champions." Even though the
Michigan baseball team ended its season on a losing
note, there will be another baseball game, and another
CAA Tournament, and there might even be some
ollege World Series titles for the Wolverines some-
where down the road.
"This is what I believe Michigan is about, this is what
college athletics is about. These young men have deter-
mined that they will be successful in whatever they may
do," said Michigan coach GeoffTZahn.
The fact that this team did not advance out of the
NCAA Regional does not detract from its surprising
late-season surge. Even though the clock struck mid-
night for the Wolverines' Cinderella run in the post-sea-
son, their performance sent a message about Michigan
*aseball nationwide.
"Styles (of baseball) change from region to region,
but it seems to me that some of the cold-belt states are
playing more like we play out there (on the west coast),"
said Cal-State Fullerton coach George Horton, whose
team defeated Michigan twice in the double-elimina-
tion regional. "I do have a lot of respect for all of the
teams in this region, especially Michigan."

"They fought hard on the field. They played like
champions and that's what it's all about. We played like
champions and that's how every one of these seniors
should remember this day and this tournament."
The senior-led Wolverines had their opportunities to
advance in the tournament. The double-elimination
tournament was unkind to the Maize and Blue.
"You look at our team that no one expected us to do
anything at the Big Ten Tournament. No one expected
us to do anything here as the No. 4 seed," Zahn said.
In the opening game on Friday, the Wolverines were
leading 5-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, before
Luke Bonner gave up three runs, leaving the team with
no room for error.
But the Wolverines were not about to let their season
end - not without putting up a fight. Just as they
wouldn't allow their season to end last weekend at the
Big Ten tournament in Columbus.
Maybe they were trying to avenge last year's disap-
pointing sixth-place Big Ten finish - a year that start-
ed with top-10 expectations. Or maybe they were just
trying to finally have the breakthrough season that they
haven't had since last going to the NCAA Tournament
in 1989.
But playing in the back-draw, Michigan beat No. 3
seed Creighton 13-5, and then faced No. 2 seed and

host Notre Dame. They managed to beat the Irish in
front of a near-capacity crowd, 11-5.
In both of these games, the Wolverines were led by
senior and first team all-tournament centerfielder,
Brian Bush. Days before, Bush was in bed vomiting
with a stomach virus. But he managed to belt a home
run in each game.
Against No. I seed Cal State-Fullerton, the
Wolverines could not pull out another win.
Already decimated by a rotation that was running out
of pitchers, the Wolverines could not repeat the timely
hitting and good defense that had carried the
Wolverines throughout the tournament.
The Wolverines left 12 runners on base, had four
errors and an untimely passed ball. Playing their fourth
nine-inning game in three days was obviously taking its
toll.
"These guys (the seniors) learned how to play, the
Michigan way, and the rest of them followed." Zahn
said.
And for the first time since the tournament run of
1989, "the Michigan way" has put its team in the
national spotlight.
"They played like champions, and they are champi-
ons," Zahn said. "I couldn't be prouder of this group of
kids that played for us."

DANA LI- '-NL/ Dao
Third baseman Mike Cervenak set the all time Michigan record for hits this season
as the Wolverines advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1989.

J For first time in four years, Conrad, softball miss out on Series

By Stephanie Offen
Daily Sports Writer
There was no joy at Michigan -
mighty Traci had struck out,
Out even before they could score a
run, the top-seeded Wolverines were
the first team eliminated from their
own NCAA Regional with back-to-
back losses to Florida Atlantic and
Notre Dame.
Heads were hung after the 1-0 loss
to the Fighting Irish as the
Wolverines walked away from
Alumni Field - not looking ahead
to Oklahoma City as they had for the
past four years, but reflecting on a
season that ended abruptly.
The Wolverines looked as though
they would score the first run of the
game in the third inning when they
placed runners at the corners with
one out.
But instead of producing the
clinch hitting that Michigan has
relied on, the Wolverines stranded
both runners.
"That's why we're not in the cham-
pionship," said Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins. "Timely hitting is
part of it and that is where we fell
short."
Michigan fell short again an
inning later. With one out, Pam
Kosanke was walked and Melissa

Gentile was hit by a pitch.
But it was the eagerness to score
that first run that left Michigan
scoreless for the inning.
Kosanke stole third and tried to
run home after the third baseman
missed the catch.
The go-ahead run was tagged out.
"I was telling her 'no, no, no,"'
Hutchins said. "I was yelling loud,
but it was really loud out there and
she took off ...'it could have hurt"
our chance to win.
Unlike the Wolverines, Notre
Dame took the fourth inning as an
opportunity to score. Leftfielder
Lizzy Lemire doubled to centerfield
and was sent home by a single to
leftfield by pitcher Jennifer Sharron.
"Lizzy's hit was a real boost for
us," Notre Dame coach Liz Miller
said. "We didn't hit well yesterday,
but our bats started to come to life
better and it gave us the confidence
that we needed."
Lemire's RBI would be the only
one for the Irish. It would remain I-
0 going into the seventh.
Michigan faced its final chance to
stay alive in its own regional when
Rebecca Tune led off the inning.
Tune had hit well in the first game
against Florida Atlantic but had been
struggling against Notre Dame. A

foul pop along the first baseline
would be the first out of the inning.
Then in what would be the last bat
of her career, senior Tammy Mika
stepped up to the plate with a hit
already that day. Mika would make
her last at bat count singling to cen-
ter field.
Next up was Melissa Taylor, who
would bunt to send Mika to second
base with two outs.
Finally it was senior Traci
Conrad's chance to save her team.
Conrad leads both the team and the
Big Ten in career hits and runs, so
hope was still high among the
Wolverines.
"I thought we were going to do it,"
Mika said. "I think we all thought we
could do it."
But Sharron was ready for the
challenge.
Conrad had hit a curveball earlier
in the game, so the strategy was to
catch her off guard with the change-
up. And after Conrad swung and
missed on the first one, the strategy
was proving to work.
"If she was going to beat me; she
was going to beat me with my better
pitches." Sharron said.
And it was Sharron who was the
eventual victor in that battle.
Just like what happened in

Mudville some 100 years ago,
mighty Traci struck - ending.
Michigans' 1999 softball season witf
the Wolverines' second loss in the
double-elimination tournament.
Michigan's first came at the hands
of Florida Atlantic. The Owls were
successful in their first trip to the--
NCAA Championships, defeating
the Wolverines 2-0.
Florida Atlantic's Ninya Ybarra
started things off in the third inning
as she homered to left field, giving
the Owls the early lead.
Errors in the infield brought in
another run for the Owls, making the
game 2-0 in the top of the third.
And Michigan struggled the rest of
the game. Florida Atlantic pitcher
Nicole Myers would keep the
Wolverines to only four hits and zero
runs on the afternoon handing
Michigan their first loss of the
regional.
"I don't know how I was able to
hold them off," Myers , said.
"Michigan has a very good hitting
team. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of
strikeouts so I was just hoping they
would ground out or pop the ball
up."
And they did. They kept the joy
out of Ann Arbor and the Wolverines
out of Oklahoma.

CHRIS CAMPERNEL/Daily
'Michigan's Traci Conrad struck out to end Michigan's season this year. Michigan
failed to make the Women's College World Series for the first time since 1994.

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