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March 19, 2002 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-19

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14-The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Tigers, Hoosiers on horizon for Wolverines

By Daniel Brnmer
Daily Sports Writer

The road to the NCAA Tournament
unofficially begins this weekend for the
Michigan water polo team, as it prepares BLOO
to compete in the Indiana Invitational. _ _
Michigan (10-0 CWPA, 12-10 overall), who: Michi
currently ranked No. 13, will take on No. CWPA, 12-1
17 Indiana and No. 15 Princeton on Satur- Princeton, a
day. These matchups will be important to When: 11 a.
ensure that the Wolverines qualify for the Latest: Thes
Eastern Championship tournament. The ines as they
winner on to the NCAA Tournament, qualify for th
"To get (to the Eastern Champi- sion champi
onships), we're going to have to beat Indi-
ana. It's not going to be an easy road," Michigan coach
Amber Drury-Pinto said.
For the Wolverines, this weekend will be a great
chance to gauge where they stand against two of the
better teams in the east. After winning eight in a row,

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et
for t
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on

the Wolverines - who defeated the Hoosiers 10-9 on
Jan. 27 and defeated the Tigers 9-7 on March 3 -
would like to continue that streak.
"If history repeats itself, we've already
* A beaten them this year, so we're pretty
NGTON confident and hopeful that we'll come
_____ out on the winning end," Drury-Pinto
(10-0 said. "Our mindset is really good right
overall) vs. now, because Indiana and Princeton are
ndiana both the teams we're going to have to
, 5 p.m. beat in order to win our conference. The
two matches
he Wolvers girls are really gearing up and looking
tempt to forward to these games."
Eastern Divi- Michigan senior Jen Crisman agrees
ships. that this weekend is important, and she
believes that the team can use the games
to build for the upcoming weeks.
"We've been very successful so far in our confer-
ence and our division," Crisman said. "We hope to con-
tinue that streak, get everyone some playing time, play
well together and use that as momentum."

l

Two keys for Michigan this weekend will be its
depth and team unity, both of which have been strong
lately. The Wolverines have played as many as 28 play-
ers in each contest, giving them an advantage over
weaker teams who which cannot substitute as often.
"Everybody's been working well together," Drury-
Pinto said. "That says a lot, and hopefully that will
mean that when we get in these tighter games, (the
girls) will be even more comfortable working with
each other."
"Our team unity really contributes to our success'
Michigan senior Maribeth Sitowski said. "Everyone
plays well together. We have lots of fun together and I
think that's important."
To qualify for the Eastern Championships, Michigan
has to be in the top five in its conference. Wins over
Indiana and Princeton would significantly help the
Wolverines' postseason chances.
"We're getting down to the nitty gritty of our whole
schedule. The next four to five weeks are going to be
really key for us," Drury-Pinto said.

BRENDAN O'DONNELL/Daily
This weekend's games are extremely important for Michigan as the Wolverines
attempt to qualify for the Eastern Championships.

'M' hopes practice time pays off

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By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan softball team ended
its last road trip with a loss to Min-
nesota in which the Wolverines fell
behind early and couldn't answer the
Gophers, eventually losing 7-0. So,
Michigan has concentrated on play-
ing with energy since returning
home.
"We've tried to focus on staying
intense so when we're behind or
down, we have that fighter's mentali-
ty," pitcher Marissa Young said.
Even though the team didn't com-
pete last weekend, Michigan took just
two days to recover from a swing
consisting of two trips each to Florida
and California in a span of four
weeks. A full week and a half of
practice has left the Wolverines anx-

ious to get back on the road.
"We're not really sick of practice,
but we're ready to put what we've
been working on to use," Young said.
No. 12 Michigan (17-6) will get
the chance this weekend when it
heads to Kentucky for one more tour-
nament before it finally opens Alum-
ni Field on March 26.
Four games in three days at the
Louisville Invitational will give
Michigan an opportunity to see if
that concentration on intensity has
paid off. The Wolverines will meet
St. Louis on Friday night before a
Saturday doubleheader with the Bil-
likens and Louisville. The weekend
will wrap up with a second match-
up between Michigan and Louisville
on Sunday.
The host Cardinals (1-2 Confer-
ence USA, 12-15 overall) started the

season with four straight losses and
are playing sub-.500 ball at home.
Junior third baseman Melissa Jacobo
leads Louisville with a .393 batting
average and five home runs. Jacobo
was named the Conference USA Co-
hitter of the Week on March 11, in
part for hitting the first grand slam in
the team's three-year history in a 12-3
win against Drake.
St. Louis began its season in the
opposite direction of Louisville, win-
ning four consecutive games. But the
Billikens stumbled recently and have
lost five of their last six.
The two opponents out of Confer-
ence USA are unfamliar foes for the
Wolverines.
"We don't really know much about
them, but we never try to focus on the
other team," Young said, adding that
the Wolverines prefer to worry about

LOUISVILLE, KY.
Who: Michigan (17-6) vs. St. Louis (12-6), vs.
Louisville (12-15)
When: Friday, 5 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.;
and Sunday, noon
Latest: This is Michigan's final road tourney
before its home opener on March 26.
their own game.
Young's game has looked solid so
far this season, as she has led Michi-
gan both on the mound and at the
plate. Young has compiled a 10-4
record and a 1.01 ERA while batting
a team-high .333.
Nicole Motycka's pitching per-
formance has been just as impressive.
She boasts a 7-2 record with a 1.98
ERA. Although Motycka is just a
freshman, her strong play hasn't sur-
prised Young.
"I expected it out of her," Young
said. "And I don't think she's reached
her full potential. She's not in her
comfort zone yet."

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Marissa Young has been Michigan's best player so far this season. She and the
rest of the Wolverines have one more road trip before their first home game.

I

m

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