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April 09, 2004 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-09

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Friday
April 9, 2004
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

c"Jbe Mkbigatn &iiI
SPORTS

9

prepares
for Big Ten
trio at home
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
In its last two seasons, the Michigan softball
team has struggled in its Big Ten home opener.
A year ago, the Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 29-6
* overall) lost 4-0 to Illinois in their first confer-
ence game at Alumni Field. The year before that,
they dropped a close one to Penn State, 1-0.
Michigan has historically been mediocre (10-11)
in its conference home opener.
With home games against Ohio State and Penn

0 SOFTBALL
Roberts hopes big fly
leads to a big season

State this weekend, the
Wolverines hope to buck
their recent trend.
Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said that it's
important for the players
to come to the field
"ready to be in a mind-
set to play and to com-
pete hard."

..x %,
'Ad imp,

Michigan's home opener came two weeks ago
against nonconference opponent Valparaiso.
"The purpose of scheduling that (game against
Valparaiso) was to get used to being at home and
having that distraction of being at home,"
Hutchins said. "Being at home is more of a dis-
traction than being on the road."
No. 9 Michigan had no problem handling Val-
paraiso at Alumni Field, winning both games of
the doubleheader by a combined score of 17-0.
But it won't have things as easy this weekend
against Ohio State. The Buckeyes (2-2, 23-12)
have won six of their last seven games and they
beat Michigan once last year, 4-0. In recent
years, the teams have been quite competitive.
"We certainly have had some good rivalries,
especially with Ohio State," Hutchins said. "Two
years ago, we had to play them six times to make
our way to the World Series. I think that really
* ignited it as a rivalry between us."
This year, senior pitcher Kristi DeVries leads
Ohio State on the mound. DeVries is currently
second all-time for Ohio State in both strikeouts
and wins. This season, she boasts an ERA of
1.26 and 95 strikeouts.

By Megan Kolodgy
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan designated hitter Brandon
Roberts may have had a major break-
through on Wednesday.
The senior stepped up to the plate and
saw the pitch hurtle toward him. He took a
thunderous swing and watched the ball sail
over the fence.
It was his first home run
of the season.
There's no doubt that
Roberts has a big bat. He
frequently sends balls to the
distant outfield, but they
often remain in the park. He
bats .300 and has an RBI in D B
12 of the 22 games he has .,..,
played this year.
But the home run had been elusive for
Roberts until the Wolverines' (2-2 Big Ten,
12-11 overall) matchup against Eastern
Michigan on Wednesday afternoon.
"We needed a big lift in that game,"
Roberts said. "And I was able to give it to
the team. Hopefully, it'll carry on to this
weekend, and after that too. Because
before that, I felt like I wasn't doing my
job as a member of the team. Hopefully
now I can step it up a little more and things
will start to turn around."
Round-trippers have not always been
so tough for the senior to produce. During
his sophomore season - in which he
won Most Improved Player honors - he
had seven. But his other seasons have
proven less fruitful, bringing just one jack
each year.
Roberts is doing his best to make sure
Wednesday's homer won't be just a part of
an annual occurrence.
"I'm not satisfied with the way I've
played so far this year," Roberts said. "For-
tunately, we're only 23 games in, so we've
still got 30 or so more to go. I'm not exact-
ly where I want to be, but I feel like it's an
ongoing experience, and that things can
turn around."
Michigan coach Rich Maloney sees a

great deal of potential in Roberts's swing,
and encourages him to unleash it. This
weekend's series against Iowa (0-4, 7-16)
may be an opportunity for the Texas native
to do so.
"I hope that this can give him some
confidence so that he can deliver some
big hits for us - because we really
need him to," Maloney said. "He's defi-
nitely capable of doing that. Just the

A 4 u
XI..**'*'~

TONY DING/Daily
Michigan sophomore Grace Leutele slides into second base. Leutele and the Wolverines open their Big Ten
season against Ohio State today and tomorrow before squaring off against Penn State on Sunday.

other day in practice, I
told him, 'Just let it all
hang out, just start trying
to hit it over the fence,'
because I think he was
being a little bit conserva-
tive."
Roberts would love to
start getting bigger hits. As
one of just three seniors on

"DeVries is having a good year, and especially
a good last couple of weeks," Hutchins said. "So
we expect we'll have our hands full, and we
expect it to be difficult to get the offense going.
But our goal is just to play defense until we can
get it going."
Defense has been the Wolverines' main
strength this season. They have a team ERA of
0.73 and have averaged fewer than one error per
game. But offensively, Michigan has struggled to
find consistent production throughout the lineup.
Early in the season, the top of the order was hit-
ting well and the bottom of the order was strug-
gling. But recently, it has flip-flopped.
"We certainly need production - period,"
Hutchins said. "Whether it's from the top of the
order or the bottom of the order - they have sort
of taken turns a little bit. More than anything, for

us to have success, we need consistency."
After games against Ohio State today and
tomorrow, the Wolverines will host Penn State
on Sunday. The Nittany Lions (2-2, 14-21) don't
have the best record, but they have played the
most difficult schedule in the Big Ten so far this
season. Ten of their first 12 games came against
opponents ranked in the top 25, and they are 13-
10 since then. Hutchins said that her team
focuses only on how it is going to play and
doesn't care about its opponents because every
game counts the same on the record in the long
run.
"We'll treat Penn State the same as we'll treat
Ohio State," Hutchins said. "And that's very
simple: They are in our way, and for us to
accomplish our goals, we have to get them out
of our way."

the squad, one of his primary goals this
year is to set a good example for his
younger teammates.
"I'm probably not the most vocal leader,
but hopefully I can lead by example,"
Roberts said. "We had a lot of seniors last
year, and we lost them all. We also lost one
of our best hitters in Jake Fox when he got
drafted. So you have to step up in some
way to guide those guys and lead those
guys, whether it's by your voice or through
your actions."
Maloney said Roberts serves as a model
of unselfishness and team-oriented atti-
tude.
"He's accepted his role (as designated
hitter), and that's not easy to do," Maloney
said. "That shows some leadership right
there in the fact that he's being a team
player because it is in the best interest of
the team."
Despite Roberts's struggles, Maloney
has high expectations for the hitter's final
season as a Wolverine.
"His bat needs to be a major contribu-
tor," Maloney said. "And it certainly was
with that tremendous blast (on Wednes-
day). So I hope that this will be some-
thing that will boost him for the rest of
the year."

Carney fourth player to leave Wolverines

By Ellen McGarrity
Daily Sports Writer
This year was supposed to be one of
rebuilding and growth for the Michigan
women's basketball team. But it has only con-
tinued to shrink in size with the loss of a
fourth player in a span of two weeks.
Sophomore Rachael Carney announced her
departure from the team Wednesday. Three
other sophomores - Niki Reams, Lauren
Andrews and Mie Burlin - also decided to
move on from the program in a decision
announced on March 24.
Last year, former coach Sue Guevara left
because of reported bad relationships she had
with some of the players. Cheryl Burnett -
the former head coach of Southwest Missouri
State - replaced her and improved Michi-
gan's Big Ten record this season from 3-13 in
2003 to 6-10 in 2004.
But Carney insists that her decision to leave
the team has nothing to do with any friction
between herself and the new coaches.
"It's not just because of basketball," Carney
said. "It was my academic life also.
"It's really hard to balance (academics and

athletics). Personally for me, it wasn't about
the coaches. It was a lot of things."
Carney, one of the team's two point guards,
had a less active role on this year's team. In
her freshman season under Guevara, Carney
started 15 games and averaged 16.6 minutes
per game. This year, Carney never started and
averaged just 12.1 minutes per game. Junior
Sierra Hauser-Price was the regular starter at
the point guard position.
"I think the coaching staff my freshman
year had certain things they wanted," Carney
said. "Burnett's philosophy is fast-paced, and
Sierra does track so she definitely had (the
advantage)."
Carney stressed that while she would have
liked more playing time, always being on the
court was not her ultimate goal while playing
for Michigan.
"It was more about trying to get the victo-
ries and having a little fun while doing it,"
Carney said. "It was a bummer that I didn't
get to play more, but you've got to worry
about the team. You can't really worry about
your own individual (needs)."
According to the sophomore, the new
coaching staff treated everyone on the team

fairly. She added that she saw no division
between any members of the team - neither
between players of different years in school
nor between starters and non starters.
With Carney's departure, only five players
from this season remain. Just four recruits
have signed on for next year.
"I'm sure (the remaining players) are a little
tense with the four of us leaving," Carney
said. "But I think they have a lot of potential
to do well, and the coaches won't settle for
anything less. I definitely think they'll have a
lot of success next year and in the future."
She said that she does not know if any other
members plan to leave the team.
"If anyone else is thinking about it, I
wouldn't know," Carney said. "I didn't even
know that Niki, Mie and Lauren were quit-
ting. It's a pretty big decision."
In the meantime, Carney is thinking ahead
to next year. Her plans are to transfer to a
smaller liberal arts college where she can
continue playing basketball. Because there
has been no official press release from
Michigan about her departure, other coaches
are not yet aware of her desire to transfer to
another program.

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Sophomore Rachael Camey, left, Intends
to transfer from Michigan.

Living in a fantasy world

Like the rest of campus, the fantasy craze has invaded the Daily Sports section. Our "managers" - consisting of eight
members of the Daily sports staff - drafted fantasy baseball teams this week. Here are the teams that our staff selected,
complete with draft commentary from self-proclaimed fantasy guru and Managing Sports Editor Gennaro Filice.

Gennaro
Filice
Managing Sports Editor/
Fantasy baseball expert

Ryan
Sosin
Daily baseball
writer

Sharad
Mattu
Daily hockey
writer

James V.
Dowd
Daily softball
writer

Josh
Holman
Daily women's
hoops writer

Chris
Burke
Daily Sports
Editor

Brian
Schick
Daily hockey
writer

Eric
Ambinder
Daily women's
hoops writer

Jim
Weber
Daily Sports
Editor

Overall prediction: I really like Chris Burke's squad, which
is paced by a high-octane outfield (the core of fantasy
baseball). Burke will win. With a draft that definitely hurts
Dailv Sports'street c red Sosin will finish in dead last

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