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March 29, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 29, 2004 - 3B

Bercaw hits first career homerunI

By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
Sometimes all it takes is one pitch.
When sophomore Stephanie Bercaw
came up to bat with two outs in the bot-
tom of the third inning, the Michigan
softball team was sitting comfortably on
a seven-run lead in the first game of
yesterday's doubleheader. The team had
already broken the game open with six
runs that inning, and Valparaiso had just
made a pitching change.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
decided to switch things up a bit and
brought in Bercaw to pinch-hit for sec-
ond baseman Tiffany Haas. Bercaw
took advantage of the opportunity. She
swung at the first pitch she saw, and
drove it out of the park to straightaway
center.
"I was just thinking 'See ball, hit
ball,' and 'hit the strike,' " Bercaw said.
"I try not to think about anything else. It
just gets in the way. (The first pitch) was
a strike."
The three-run homer cleared the cen-
ter field wall by at least five feet, but
Bercaw wasn't sure it would make it.
"I actually thought it would be a little
bit short because I hit it up in the air too

far," Bercaw said.
Other than the fact that it caused the
eight-run .rule to go into effect, the
homerun was not critical to the outcome
of the game. But it was the first home-
run of Bercaw's college career.
"It felt great," Bercaw said. "It felt
great to see the team there at the end,
waiting for me."
Hutchins, who made the decision to
make the switch in the batting order,
denied speculations that she had a sixth
sense that forced her to put Bercaw into
the lineup for one pitch.
"I never know what's going to hap-
pen," Hutchins said. "I just wanted to
give her an at-bat. She's been swinging a
nice bat at practice, and she hasn't had
very many at bats this year.
"She's a good hitter. I was happy for
her, and I'd like to see her gain a little
confidence from it."
There were some indications, howev-
er, that Bercaw had the ability to leave
the yard. In practice this week she has
been hitting it deep. She doesn't have a
place in the starting lineup, but she is
used regularly as a pitch hitter.
"She's capable of hitting that ball on
the nose and hard," Hutchins said. "She
took a good cut, and she's got the

power."
Because of her homerun, Bercaw
never had a chance to bat again that
game. She came up again in the second
game of the doubleheader and drove a
couple of hard-hit balls foul before
striking out swinging.
Bercaw came into the game in the
bottom of the fifth inning with two run-
ners on, and she was one of three hitters
unable to drive them in that inning.
Michigan left two runners on in the bot-
tom of the sixth as well. In that inning,
Michigan had two batters, Angie
Churchill and Lauren Holland, who
stuck out while looking. Hutchins said
that she was not disappointed with leav-
ing the runners on base, but she was
upset with the Wolverines who went up
to the plate looking at pitches.
"The only thing that mattered was
some of the people who went in there
and took a lot of pitches," Hutchins said.
"I just thought that was ridiculous. Go
up there and get your cuts. There is no
pressure on us. We don't have to get a
hit to win the game.
"I just felt that being aggressive was
what we did well today, and I didn't
think that, near the end of the game, we
did it nearly as well."

Men's crew
teaching a
lesson in
investment

SOFTBALL
Continued from Page 1B
producing runs. This weekend's 17 runs went a long way toward
changing that. Hutchins was pleased with the team's production,
but said that it needed to keep it up throughout the season.
"We definitely have seen improvement, especially from the
bottom half of our order," Hutchins said. "And that's something
where we need to stay consistent.
"I feel we were aggressive, and I think that showed on the
scoreboard ultimately. We swung at the hittable pitches."
The Wolverines have been hot as of late, winning 13 of their
last 14 games. With the exception of the Bowling Green 9-5 win
last week, they have not given up more than two runs in any of
those games.
Michigan moves into the Big Ten season next weekend when it
travels to Indiana and Purdue. Wilson said that yesterday's games
against Valparaiso were a good warmup for the rest of the year.
"Hutch says to play every game the same, and that's the attitude
that we're going to go into the Big Ten season with," Wilson said.

J. BRADY MCCOLLOUGH
The SportsMonday column
The night before hitting the water
against Cornell, one of the top
teams in the nation year-in and
year-out, the Michigan men's rowing
team was busy making s'mores and
staying warm at a Boy Scout camp in
upstate New York. At least it got beds
this time.
Usually, you'll find the 60-plus team
members packing into youth hostels or
sleeping on YMCA gym floors just to
get the chance to ruin some varsity
team's morning.
"One of the guys on our team two
years ago would bundle his shirts up
and use them as a pillow," senior Matt
Hughes said. "You could put that kid
anywhere and he'd be fine."
You could say the same about this
varsity-club program, made up of kids
who pay more than $1,500 a year
($137,000 collectively) to pull an oar
back and forth everyday and puke after-
wards. The men of this crew invest their
money, their bodies and their hearts into
the hope that they can attend the ball
with all the rich folks and dirty up their
tuxedos on the way out.
"Whether we're termed 'varsity,'
'varsity club,' whatever, when we go on
the line and we're sitting there about to
row, it doesn't matter," senior Sasha
Duchnowski said. "It's the work you've
put into it."
"It's all us paying for it, and nobody
is giving us anything," Hughes said.
They give themselves everything
they need through alumni donations
and fundraising through a program
called "Rent-a-rower," in which people
from the Ann Arbor community pay
members of the team to do random
chores. Aside from the usual lot of rak-
ing leaves and moving furniture, Hugh-
es even had to clean a man's lawn
chairs with a toothbrush once.
"He was serious about his lawn
chairs," Hughes said.
"Where's he from?'
Hughes, known as "the animal" by
his teammates because of his beastly
beard and superhuman genetic makeup,
takes rowing pretty seriously. Like most
of the team, he had no previous rowing

RYAN WEINER/Daily
TOP: Matt Hughes leads the first varsity
eight boat. RIGHT: Those who stay will be...
experience before joining coach Gregg
Hartsuff's team his freshman year. Now,
he's considered the top collegiate rower
in the country, varsity rowers included.
Hughes, who has upped his commit-
ment to two or three practices per day,
finished fifth at the World Indoor Row-
ing Championships in Boston during
Spring Break and was first among U.S.
collegiate rowers.
"Right before the competition,
nobody knew who I was," Hughes said.
The announcer went through the list
of rowers who were competing and
named their respective colleges and
homelands. Then he got to Hughes.
"Matt Hughes ... where's he from?"
the announcer asked.
"He just went on to the next person,"
Hughes said, laughing.
It's getting tougher to overlook the
Michigan program, a perennial finisher
in the nation's top 10. Still, the team
begins each season ranked out of the
top 10. The rowing powers-that-be must
keep hoping the team's performance the
year before was somehow a fluke.
So Michigan just keeps investing.
Four hundred dollars for a Spring
Break training trip to Tampa, Fla. Six
back-breaking practices each week
including Tuesday mornings bright and
early on Ann Arbor's Argo Pond.
"You have to have the heart to kill
yourself harder than that guy has killed
himself," Duchnowski said. "When we
go to Cornell and race, they have a mil-
lion-dollar boathouse. When they go to
national championships, they stay in a
hotel; we stay on a Salvation Army
floor. We've all paid out of our pockets.
"If I beat you, what did that boat-
house do for you?"
The purest form
Hughes remembers his first impres-
sion of Michigan's boathouse: "Man,
that place is a dump." A dump, yes, but
it's a fitting house for this team, built by
the callused hands of the 1985 team.
The first thing you see when you
walk into the boathouse is a sign with
Bo Schembechler's classic words paint-
ed in maize and blue: Those who stay
will be Champions. The funny thing is,

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
Shortstop Jessica Merchant connects with the pitch.

not many kids stay. The team starts out
with 70 freshmen each year - there are
just five seniors on this year's squad.
"It's a huge battle of attrition in this
sport," Hughes said. "They are paying
to put themselves in pain early in the
morning. There are no cry-babies or
prima donnas. We're here because we
want to be."
As junior Josh Brown put it, being
on the team can almost be sadistic.
Hartsuff, a rarity as a salaried club
coach, is familiar with the pain and
knows the guys on the team don't have
to be there every day like on a varsity
team. Even though he wishes the team
received varsity funding, Hartsuff
embraces the uniqueness of club status.
"It's the purest form of sport there
is," Hartsuff said. "It's the way intercol-
legiate athletics started. We have peo-
ple here who got into Michigan on
their own and are here for academic
purposes and end up finding our team.
"I like working with people like that."
Duchnowski quit the team before his
junior year because he was worried the
commitment would ruin his Business
School grade point average. But after a
year away, he chose to return to the
team for his final year at Michigan
because it "keeps me on my toes."
"(It creates a better atmosphere)
because the guys aren't here because
they are getting a scholarship," he said.
"It's an opportunity (for a regular stu-
dent) to represent Michigan as a
Wolverine and be an athlete."
It's an opportunity to show the rest of
the country - and the rest of campus
-- that you don't have to be a varsity
athlete or have a Nike swoosh on your
jersey to be a champion.
J' Brady McCollough can be reached at
bradymcc@umich. edt.

WOMEN'S TENNIS
Netters crush Buckeyes in 7-0 win

By Elen McOardty
Daily Sports Writer

They don't call her "Bam-Bam" for nothing. With her high-
ly emotional and physical style of play, Elizabeth Exon quickly
earned her nickname in her first season with the Michigan
women's tennis team. During the Wolverines' match yesterday
against rival Ohio State (2-1 Big Ten, 7-8 overall) - which
No. 19 Michigan (3-0, 12-1) dominated 7-0 - Exon was in
usual form playing No. 2 singles against Buckeye Erica Fisk.
Her power and willingness to take wild shots attracted a crowd,
and her passionate play seemed to symbolize everything a
Michigan-Ohio State contest should be. Exon would tie it up or
take a one-point lead, only to be passed or tied again by Fisk.
"I was frustrated in general because this weekend I wasn't
playing my best," Exon said. "And this girl just sent every-
thing back. I was ahead in the second set and then she came
back, and she was just hugely competitive. She just tried to get
every ball back."
By the time Exon had won the first set 6-3, but lost the sec-
ond 6-7, the meet had already been decided - Michigan had
claimed the doubles point and all of the other singles points.
Officials ruled that Exon's match would end in a 10-point
tiebreaker instead of taking the time to play out a third set.
But from the match's intensity, one would never know that
it didn't depend on the point between Exon and Fisk.
"It's really intense because it's ten points to decide the
match, it's not like tennis (should be) - you should play the
third set out," Exon said. "And it's the same thing that hap-
pened to me (on :Saturday against Penn State). So it was an

emotional tie-breaker because it was Ohio State."
Exon and Fisk traded the lead several times, but it was
Exon who squeaked out to win 10-8.
Even though Michigan won all matches, it wasn't for lack
of effort on the side of Ohio State. Most matches saw the lead
either go back and forth or remain close throughout.
"Michigan is having a really good year so we expected
them to do well," Ohio State senior Meaghan Colville said.
"We beat them last year. Every win (over Michigan), no mat-
ter what type of year we're having or they're having, it's
always a good win."
Colville's passion about the rivalry showed in her doubles
matchup against Michigan's Kim Plaushines and Debra Strei-
fler. Like Exon's, the match ended in a tiebreaker which
Michigan won 7-3.
"That match was awesome," Colville said. "I think we were
very evenly matched. That combination (of players) - we
hadn't played before (so) it was a really fun match to play in."
Ohio State also may have been tired from its rigorous sched-
ule - yesterday's game against Michigan was the team's 10th
straight away game. In just the last week, the Buckeyes have
played in Las Vegas, Dallas, East Lansing and now Ann Arbor.
They even have another away game next week.
"Our coach wanted to get us more outdoor matches to
prepare us for the outdoor season," said Colville, explaining
Ohio State coach Chuck Merzbacher's decision to create
such a hectic schedule.
Michigan's. win over Ohio State completed a successful
weekend for the Wolverines, who also crushed Penn State in
a 5-2 victory Saturday.

IU

REC
SPORTS
INT RA UR A L $

The University of Michigan
Department of Recreational Sports
Intramural Sports Program
www.recsports.umich.edu
734-763-3562

REC
SPORTS
INTfRAMURALS

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Vietnam and the Movies
Which movies do Vietnam vets
think are accurate? Not
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Minds. Even Oliver Stone's
autobiographical Platoon has
received harsh criticism.
Hamburger Hill, 84 Charlie Mopic
and We Were Soldiers are the
movies most praised by Vietnam
Vets for their accurate portrayals
of how it truly was.

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