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March 24, 2003 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-24

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 24, 2003 - 38

Niners can't claim dominance of their own state

STEVE
JACKSON

By Josh Holhan
Daily Sports Writer
While its hitting is running on all cylinders, the
pitching hasn't quite been there yet this season for
Michigan. For a baseball team, that's never a good
sign. Michigan went 1-2 at the Butler Classic in Indi-
anapolis this weekend in much of the same way the
team has been used to this year.
Michigan (7-9) can credit most of its wins this sea-
son to some timely and consistent hitting. Yesterday's
12-8 score against Central Michigan was a slugfest
consistent with your average Michigan game, but this
time, the Wolverines came up on the losing side.
Michigan first struck in the top of the fourth.
Sophomore Nick Rudden launched a three-run
homer as part of the four-run inning.
Junior pitcher Bobby Garza (2-1) worked smooth-
ly until the fifth inning, when the Chippewas rained
down eight runs. Central Michigan worked through
Garza and two more relief pitchers during the inning.
Michigan will get another shot at the Chippewas
when it opens up its home schedule at Ray Fisher
Stadium tomorrow.

"We certainly want a rematch," Michigan coach
Rich Maloney said. "One of our goals in the program
is to get back to the point where we can win the state,
and obviously this weekend we didn't do that."
Senior third baseman Brock Koman, who is cur-
rently sitting on a 16-game hitting streak, made his
presence known Friday in Michigan's 11-5 win over
Butler on its own field.
Koman's 3-for-5 hitting day included a two-run
double and a homerun in the first.
"On the offensive side, you have quite the veteran
team," Maloney said. "We've been hitting pretty
much day in and day out."
Sophomore Drew Taylor got the start on the day,
and pitched 6.2 innings, allowing just 2 earned runs.
The Bulldogs capitalized on a throwing error by
sophomore Nick Rudden and rallied for three runs,
cutting the lead to 6-5. Freshman relief pitcher Craig
Murray then entered the game, worked out of the
jam and earned his first career save.
Murray got a fair amount of help from Michigan's
five run eighth, highlighted by Koman's double and
sacrifice flies by senior second baseman Jordan Can-
talamessa and junior catcher Jake Fox.

Michigan was in the driver's seat versus Western
Michigan on Saturday, but it watched the game slip
away in the final innings of the 6-2 defeat.
Sophomore Michael Penn flirted with a shutout
until the eighth inning, but a Nate Wright fielding
erorr was the beginning of the collapse. Right fielder
Tom Fabrizio knocked in an RBI double, and Penn
later hit a batter with the bases loaded.
The relief pitching proved ineffective, as freshman
Ali Husain allowed one run, and freshman Derek
Feldkamp allowed two runs on four hits in the ninth.
We're inexperienced on the mound," Maloney said.
"It's uncanny for a Division I program. Virtually
every kid we throw out there is making his first start."
Broncos' pitcher Brad Mumma threw a complete
game and held the Wolverines to their lowest offensive
output of the season since facing Oklahoma on March
8. The team's only runs came in the first inning from
Fox and sophomore right fielder Chris Burhans on an
infield grounder and single, respectively.
"We played a tough nonconference and consider-
ing where we're at, we're not that far off," Maloney
said. "We obviously have a lot of work ahead, but
that's okay for now."

Two stories. A perspective
on basketball and war

Big innings hurt M'
i n two tough losses

By Gennaro Race
Daily Sports Writer
In America's pastime, a game con-
sists of nine three-out innings.
Although each frame is completely
equal in design, one inning often
stands out among the others as "the
Big Inning." After defeating Butler in
the opener to the Butler Classic on
Friday, the Michigan nine felt the
wrath of "the Big Inning" on consecu-
tive days.
"We put ourselves in a position to
win, but we give up that big inning,"
Michigan coach Rich Maloney said.
"Until we quit doing that, we're going
to continue to struggle"
On Saturday, Wolverine junior
Michael Penn pitched seven brilliant
innings of baseball. Having held
Western Michigan to no runs on three
hits, Penn looked to be in cruise con-
trol entering the eighth inning - but
the tide quickly turned.
The Broncos took advantage of an
opening-inning error by Michigan

first baseman Nate Wright, and ral-
lied to erase Michigan's 2-0 advan-
tage. Penn - who seemed to lose gas
after the Wright miscue - could only
record one out in the inning before
being replaced by Ali Husain and was
charged with three runs, two of which
were unearned. Western Michigan put
three insurance runs on the board in
the ninth and prevailed 6-2.
Twenty-four hours after Michigan's
eighth-inning demise, the Wolverines
suffered a similar fate, but this time a
little earlier in the game. Junior
Bobby Garza held Cenral Michigan
to just one run through four innings,
but was dodging bullets the entire
time. But in the fifth, the Chippewas
- who had left eight runners on base
- exploded for eight runs, four of
which were credited to Garza. The
Chippewas won 12-8.
"Our guys like Drew (Taylor) and
Michael (Penn) are getting better,"
Maloney said. "Unfortunately they're
having to come around in very diffi-
cult situations given their youth."

G 4And now, back to basketball." As
the big-screen picture of Dan
Rather uttered those words Satur-
day afternoon at Damon's Restaurant in
Ann Arbor, the people around me
cheered.
But I didn't join in. I felt something
deeper. Those words took me to a differ-
ent time and a different world.
It was a dark and painfully cold night,
and the broad flat farmlands of rural
Michigan surrounded me. I sat quietly at
the back of an old, yellow school bus, a
mess of sweat and tears. There was no
sound. It was just a silent school bus
rolling past snow-filled ditches and the
occasional deer.
One boy stared at the ceiling; another
watched the floor bump up and down. I
was looking through the mesh of my jer-
sey, which I wouldn't take off that night.
It was my last high school basketball
game. We lost. It was a tight game, but
not especially close. I didn't play that
many minutes.
But I still recounted each and every
moment in my mind, looking for a way
to cope with the loss.
If only I had made a big play here... If
only my friend hadn't picked up that foul
If only someone could have hit a shot
in that key possession ...
Eventually I ran out of ifs.
So I looked at the boy next to me. He
never made eye contact. He didn't speak.
We really didn't have anything to say.
The game, and our careers, ended ear-
lier than we expected.
After passing 60 miles of silent two-
lane roads, we finally reached our high
school. One by one, we picked up our
Gatorade bottles, duffle bags and gym
shoes. Then we drove home.
That night, I lost sleep because of a
basketball game.
It was a dark and agonizingly hot
night, and the endless sands of an
Iraqi wilderness surrounded a young
man. He sat quietly at the back of a
high-tech mobile assault vehicle,
covered in sweat and holding back
tears. There was no sound. It was just
a state-of-the-art war machine rolling
past piles of sand and the occasional
burned-out and abandoned enemy

tank.
One young man stared at the ceil-
ing; another watched the floor bump
up and down. But this young man
was looking at the end of his gas
mask, which he wouldn't take off
that night. It was his first taste of
war. Another young man died in the
battle. His death wasn't this young
man's fault. He didn't even see it
happen.
But he still recounted each and every
moment in his mind, looking for a way
to cope with the loss.
Ifonly he had been a position to stop
it... If only his friend hadn't been watch-
ing something else... If only someone
could have stepped in and saved a life...
Eventually he ran out of ifs.
So he looked at the young man next to
him. He never made eye contact. He did-
n't speak.
He wasn't there. He was dead.
There really wasn't anything left to
say.
The mission, and one young man's
life, ended earlier than anyone expected.
After passing 60 miles of silent sand
dunes, the survivors finally reached their
camp. One by one, the young men
picked up their canteens, rifles and hel-
mets. Then they walked to their tents.
Tonight, I will lose sleep for those
young men.
I still live in a yellow school bus world
with trivial problems. Most of us here in
Ann Arbor do, too. For that, we should
all be thankful.
So I urge every one of you - regard-
less of how you see this war - to pray
for the young men and women that are
living in the mobile assault vehicle
world. Pray for their safety and a swift
return home. -
And when the day of peace finally
comes, we can all join that Damon's
crowd by standing and cheering those
beautiful words.
"And now, back to basketball"
This story is dedicated to Blaine Varner
- my 21-year-old friend who left a wife
and four children when his country
called. We used to ride yellow school
buses together Steve Jackson can be
reached at sjjackso@umich.edu.

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Michigan catcher Jake Fox extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games.
Michigan went 1-2 this weekend at the Butler Classic.

Teamwork key component of Blue's success

By Steven Shears
Daily Sports Writer
Women's swimrhing and diving is
rarely considered a team sport. Com-
plete squads do not qualify for the
NCAAs; swimmers can only advance
by attaining certain times in events.
But for Michigan, teamwork is
essential.
At the NCAA Championships held
in Auburn, Ala. this past weekend,
Michigan showcased its talent in
relay and medley events - races fea-
turing more than one person.
"This group had a vision," Michi-
gan coach Jim Richardson said.
"We're at this championship meet
because of our relays."
On Thursday, the first day of the
event, the Wolverines competed in
the 200-yard freestyle relay prelimi-
naries in the morning. Michigan was

not invited to Auburn for this event,
but the team figured it had a slim
chance of qualifying for the finals.
Surprisingly, they qualified, posting a
time of 1:31.33, their fastest of the
season.
"Qualifying for the 200-yard
freestyle relay was a shocker,"
Richardson said. "No one expected
us to qualify in that event for the
finals."
The team of Laura Kaznecki, Erin
Abbey, Abby Seskevics, and Anne
Weilbacher finished eighth in the
finals with a time of 1:32.03.
Later on that night, Abbey and
Weilbacher teamed up with Amy
McCullough and Kelli Stein to cap-
ture 1l1th place in the 400-yard med-
ley relay. Twice in the same day, the
relays were successful.
"The 400-yard medley was solid,"
Richardson said. "We took pride in

trying to score points in this medley."
Eleventh- and 12th-place finishes
were also recorded in the 200-yard
medley relay and the 400-yard
freestyle relay, respectively. The.
Wolverines finished 14th overall, and
each of the nine swimmers who com-
peted garnered All-America or hon-
orable All-America status.
For a team that was not even
ranked in the top 30 earlier this year,
ending the year in this fashion is
quite impressive.
"This was a terrific year for us,"
Richardson said. "They put forth a
consistent effort throughout. They
knew that to have a better year, they
were going to do it themselves and
do it as a group. They support one
another, step up when they need to
and are there for each other."
For the senior Wolverines, they
will never swim for Michigan again.

But one thing is for sure - they will
always be there for their teammates.
"When their reunion comes up at
Michigan, I know that they will all
come hack just to see each other,"
Richardson said. "This is a special
group."

U U

SPECIAL

ADVANCE

DaCosta wnmg big for netters

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By Edc Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer

Michigan's No. 1 singles player,
Michelle DaCosta, is a bit deceiving.
Soft-spoken and modest, DaCosta's off-
court demeanor is the opposite of her
intimidating on-court presence. Her
most recent victim, Marquette's Eva
Trujillo, experienced just that. Taking
the match into the third set, Trujillo
never had a chance against DaCosta's
thundering late-game serving as
DaCosta persevered 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
"Being able to serve well throughout
the match helps me out a lot in the third
set," DaCosta said. "I have more confi-
dence in my match play, and I also get a
lot of support from my teammates and
fans."
Support came not just in the form of
encouragement. Her teammates
clinched the match before DaCosta
even began her third set.
Marquette (3-12 overall) seemed to
be thinking about the school's upcom-
ing NCAA basketball tournament game
instead of tennis, because the 33rd-
ranked Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten, 9-3)
pounded the Golden Eagles 6-1 on Sat-
urday at the Varsity Tennis Center.
Michigan used solid doubles play as
a momentum builder for the rest of the
match.
"It was great that we swept the dou-
bles (matches)," assistant coach Greg
Novak said. "It was a great confidence
builder for the rest of the match."
Leading 1-0, Michigan's Jen Duprez
cruised to victory over Marquette's

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Kimberly Plaushines had won nine straight matches for the Wolverines, but
couldn't come out on top this weekend. Still, Michigan was able to persevere.

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manding 3-0 lead.
The only hiccup for the Wolverines
was the surprising loss of Kim
Plaushines, who had won nine matches
in a row and was unbeaten in dual
matches this season.
Playing a familiar opponent, Mar-
quette's Anna Pavlovic, Plaushines lost
6-3, 6-3 giving the Golden Eagles their
only point of the day.
"I struggled with execution on a lot
of my shots," Plaushines said, "She had
an answer for everything that I tried. It
wasn't my best tennis today."

Though her teammates had clinched
a victory before DaCosta even began
her third set, DaCosta's fan club - yes,
fan club, cheered her on as if her play
would decide the outcome of the match.
Her fan club may be small, but it is
very vocal. They shouted renditions of
"dig deep blue" and "stay tough Blue,"
more times during the match than Dick
Vitale says "awesome baby" during a
college basketball game.
Next up for the Wolverines is a tough
road match against 27th-ranked Notre
Dame (8-6) tomorrow, a team they

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