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April 11, 2003 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-11

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 11, 2003

Concordia no match
for Collins on mound

Freshman of the year
Willis keeps growing

By Waldemar Centeno
Daily Sports Writer

Michigan freshman outfielder Mike
Schmidt launched his first career
homerun en route to an 11-4 non-con-
ference victory for the Wolverines yes-
terday over Concordia.
"It feels pretty good," Schmidt said.
"It was a hit-and-run, and I saw the
curveball coming. I kind of felt the
pressure, and it
was a good ben- N3 DA;
der. I just had to C N
jump on it."
The Wolverines (3-3 Big Ten, 13-12
overall) beat Concordia (9-25), a
National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics team from Ann Arbor, at the
Fish. However, the Cardinals contin-
ued to add pressure on the Wolverines
throughout the course of the game.
"No, that's baseball," Michigan
coach Rich Maloney said in response
to being surprised with Concordia's
play. "It is hard knowing that we have
a big weekend coming up, and we
knew that today would be a tough day
to focus. I'm not surprised (they
played tough) because the great thing
about baseball is that any team can win
on any game. Especially when you're
playing some different guys, anything
could happen. (Concordia) played hard
and played well. We didn't play
extremely well."
Michigan's defensive play was not
up to par with five crucial errors on
the day.

"There is no doubt that we're not
playing defense the way defense
should be played," Maloney said. "We
knew that was a weakness in the past,
and we have been working really hard
on it. We've played pretty good
defense for a period of time. We just
got to keep working on it, and that's all
we can do."
Despite Michigan's inefficient
defense, sophomore pitcher Matt
Collins pitched a gem. Collins allowed
just one earned run on three hits in his
6.2 innings worth of work.
"(Collins) is one of the reasons why
we wanted to play today," Maloney
said. "I wanted to get Collins back out
there. He started struggling this year,
but he has really good stuff. If it ever
comes together for him, he'll become a
really good pitcher."
Collins (2-1) previously struggled in
his last two outings. However, his
curveball consistently broke over the
plate for strikes.
Also contributing to Michigan's vic-
tory were senior first baseman Mike
Sokol, junior outfielder Brandon
Roberts, and Schmidt.
"Sokol has been on fire," Maloney
said. "He is hitting really well, and he's
a leader on our team. Furthermore, it's
good to see Brandon swing the bat real-
ly well. Also, it's great to see Schmidt
hit his first collegiate homerun, which
is really nice on a hit-and-run."
Sokol is the Big Ten leader in bat-
ting average (.526) and went 2-for-4
with two RBI against Concordia.

By Benjamin Lawless
Daily Sports Writer

It's not everyday you run into some-
one on campus who can legitimately
say he is "from a land down under."
And while he's not a member of the
band Men at Work, freshman runner
Nick Willis certainly can make that
claim.
Willis, who hails from Lower Hutt,
New Zealand, has made his presence
felt since arriving in Ann Arbor.
Despite moving halfway across the
world, Willis was an All-American in
cross country this past fall, finishing
21st overall in the NCAA champi-
onship meet despite having very little
experience with cross country before
coming to Michigan. He helped the
Wolverines to a surprising eighth-place
team finish.
"He was a little surprised at how
well he did at cross country," said
Michigan coach Ron Warhurst.
During the winter's indoor track
season, Willis continued to improve
and was named Big Ten Freshman of
the Year - no small accomplishment
in a conference with so much young

talent. He was also a member of the
distance medley relay, which finished
third at the NCAA Indoor Champi-
onships.
Willis has had to make some adjust-
ments this year, both to his training
regiment and to the events he runs.
"My mileage has increased a lot,"
Willis said. "Before, I ran about 70
kilometers a week; I run 70 miles a
week here. The workouts have been a
lot more distance oriented."
With so much depth at his usual
event, the 800 meters, Willis has
switched to the 1,500- and the 3,000-
meter runs.
In an individual sport, Willis put his
team ahead of himself.
"That is just the way the team worked
out. We need the points," Willis said.
His talent on the track and unselfish
leadership off it have made Willis an
invaluable part of the team.
"I wouldn't trade him for anyone in
the country," Warhurst said. "He gets
along tremendously with the guys on
the team and treats everyone as an
equal. Just because a guy can't run a
sub-four-minute mile doesn't mean he
won't talk to them."

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Michigan's Ali Husain pitches to Minnesota in last Sunday's double-header at the
Fish. Michigan lost both games to the Gophers.

C

Roberts scored once and had two RBI
while hitting 1-for-3 on the day.
Schmidt did not just hit his first
homerun of his career; he also stole
two bases for the Wolverines.
"For next year, (Schmidt) will be a
guy that will play a lot," Maloney said.
"If you just watch him, you could see
that the guy can run and hit. Right
now, we don't have that great deal of
speed. So it is kind of a tough thing,
which you will see improve in the
future."
Knowing that the Wolverines will
focus more on speed in the upcoming
years, Schmidt's stolen bases are an

excellent sign for Michigan's future.
"It will be a good move to have a
fast outfield," Schmidt said. "We hope
to get some more stolen bases on the
year."
This weekend, Michigan will host
Illinois (3-5 Big Ten, 15-10 overall).
"Illinois is a solid program, and we
have to play well to win," Maloney
said. "We are ready as a team. We are
playing a veteran lineup, and they
know that this is an important series.
They're 3-5, and we're 3-3, and
something has to give. If we want to
make the playoffs, we got to start
separating us."

Cold can't keep crew
from ACC showdown

By Ian Herbert
For the Daily

Softball looks to improve Big Ten standing

By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Writer

easy 'W' for Michigan on paper - the Badgers are
hitting a mere .199 as a team. But Wisconsin's
pitching, not hitting, will be its best chance to win
this weekend. Badgers senior Andrea Kirchberg has
been solid on the mound, striking out 210 batters in

It's been nine days since the Michigan softball
team has taken the field to compete, but tonight in

Madison is no time for the Wolverines
to come out rusty.
"This weekend for us is particularly
important," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "They all are, but this
one is particularly important. I expect
once we get out there, our enthusiasm
will be high."
After being forced to cancel two Big
Ten games against Iowa last weekend,
No. 15 Michigan (3-1 Big Ten, 21-8
overall) needs to take advantage of all
the conference matchups it has left,

THIS WEEKEND
Michigan at Wiscon-
sMinnesota
Tme: 7 pm.tonight,
Noon tomorrow
& Sunday
Goodman Softball
Conplex s Madison

her 149 innings this season en route to
an 11-11 record.
Wisconsin beat two top-25 teams
earlier this season (then-No. 15 Fresno
State and then-No. 23 Oregon State)
and will look to add to that total today.
Minnesota (4-2, 27-11-1) has fared
better than Wisconsin so far this sea-
son, winning four straight Big Ten
games and sitting one spot behind
Michigan at No. 4 in the conference
standings. The Golden Gophers' only
conference losses came to the Big Ten-

has also been solid with a combined 1.47 ERA.
Hutchins knows her team will have to give its
best to compensate for being on the road.
"Both those teams have great pitching, and
you're playing at their place, so our pitching needs
to keep us in the game until we can get some
offense going." Hutchins said. "You expect (the
opponent) to be able to contain your offense some-
what, you need to contain theirs first with pitching
and defense."
For Michigan, catcher Monica Schock will look
to extend her 11-game hitting streak in today's
action. Over the course of the streak, Schock has
raised her season average to .354, good enough for
10th in the Big Ten.
Michigan third baseman Grace Leutele has also
been scorching the ball lately. The freshman is hit-
ting .600 on the season (6-for-10) with three home-
runs - including a game-tying two run shot against
Northwestern in extra innings on March 30 and two
dingers in one game against Western Michigan two
days later.

The weather has been cold recently.
But not cold enough to keep the
Michigan rowing team off the water as
it prepares for the ACC/Big Ten Dou-
ble Dual regatta this weekend on the
Scioto River in Columbus.
"Cold is a factor, but it doesn't deter
us from practicing. Only ice and strong
winds keep us off the water," Michigan
coach Mark Rothstein said. "In a typi-
cal week, we practice nine times, four
inside on the ergometers and five more
out on the water."
The practices vary each day from
50-minute, continuous rows to multi-
ple sprints, and from race intensity
workouts to slower technical work.
Senior Kate Maxim, who has earned
three varsity letters as a Wolverine,
explained that each works a different
aspect of rowing and is difficult in its
own way. But they all have the same
goal - to help the team stay com-
posed through each race.
"One advantage we have is that we

can row in unfavorable conditions,"
Maxim said. "It makes us mentally
tougher."
No. 5 Michigan is hoping that those
workouts will make it tough enough to
defeat two very good crews this week-
end in No. 11 Virginia and Duke.
"We have a lot of respect for Vir-
ginia," Maxim said. "They are a great
team."
Said Rothstein: "Virginia is a very
tough team. They've been one of the
most successful programs in the coun-
try over the last five years."
The Wolverines are used to tough
competition by now. Last week, they
swept No. 9 Michigan State and East-
ern Michigan in all three races of their
only home regatta of the year. Two
weeks ago, they raced very well
against defending national champion
Brown and No. 2 Princeton.
Rothstein explained that the team is
focusing on the long term, but not over-
looking the regatta this weekend.
"This is going to be a tough regatta.
We don't have an easy race all year,"
he said.

0

beginning with games against Wisconsin tonight
under the lights and tomorrow followed by a dou-
bleheader in Minnesota on Sunday.
Wisconsin (2-4, 13-16) might appear to be an

leading Hawkeyes, who Michigan has yet to play.
Minnesota is led at the plate by senior Jordanne
Nygren, who is hitting .379 on the season with 10
homeruns and 32 RBIs. The Gopher pitching staff

4 she passes

0

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OU

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1

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I

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0
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I

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