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April 14, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-14

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Wednesday
April 14, 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

9

Blue puts win
streak on the
ine at Eastern
By Jamie Josephson
SDaily Sports Writer

Blue over green: best
decision I ever made

The Michigan-Eastern Michigan series may not
be the most heated rivalry in the state, but the
No. 9 Michigan softball team refuses to look past
the Eagles.
The Wolverines (8-0 Big Ten, 33-6 overall) hope
to extend their 16-game winning streak against East-

ern Michigan (2-7, 12-
17) in today's non
conference doublehead-
er. Michigan is coming
off a successful homes-
tand last weekend in
which it took two
games each from Big
Ten foes Ohio State
and Penn State.
"We have non con-

.. .. . :.: :. .. . .. .
M~g~nC:
Eastrn? chiend
%T~ .Rn.

ference midweek games to stay sharp for the Big
Ten games on the weekends," Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins said. "Playing a game during the
week is usually more helpful than just having
practices."
Facing Eastern Michigan earlier in the season at
the Florida Atlantic Invitational on Feb. 21, Michi-
gan handled the Eagles on its road to first place at
the tournament. Freshman pitcher Lorilyn Wilson
earned her first victory as a Wolverine in the
matchup, shutting out the Eagles 5-0. She allowed
just two hits and a pair of walks while tallying 10
strikeouts. Hutchins will give the freshman hurler
the start for today's contest, as well.
"This game will give Lorilyn time to pitch,
and provide more playing time for
other players," Hutchins said. "It's a great
opportunity for the team to try
out new stuff and work on the basics."
The Wolverines combined for a total of 13 hits
against the Eagles in their first game, with soph-
omore Tiffany Haas and junior Jessica Merchant
leading the offensive charge. Merchant tied
Michigan's single-season home-run record on
Saturday against Ohio State.
Senior infielder Angie Churchill explained that
the team has been primarily focusing on its
offense in practice.
"We need to get our hitting going and more
consistent," Churchill said. "We'd much rather be
playing than practicing."

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
Junior Jessica Merchant drills a ball down the left side during the Wolverines' 1-0 victory over the Buckeyes
Saturday. Michigan faces Eastern Michigan today and hopes to continue its double-digit winning streak.

COURTNEY LEWIS
Full Court Press
couldn't have been more than
five years old that day when I
walked into the family room and
found my dad watching the game on
TV
"Who's playing?" I asked, still
mostly oblivious to the world of col-
lege football.
"Michigan and Michigan State,"
he answered.
I asked who he wanted to win. He
said Michigan State.
"Which ones are they?"
"The green ones."
"Oh," I said, thinking for a
moment. "I want the blue guys to
win."
Based on the superior color
scheme and the chance to oppose
(and antagonize) my dad, I had
decided my allegiance.
I had no idea what I was signing
up for.
How could I know that I had just
applied for a lifetime membership to
a passionate and loyal club, that I
had just brought the state's great
divider into our household?
Soon, I was refusing to wear
green clothing of any kind and rib-
bing my dad about his lame Spar-
tans any chance I got.
As I learned names like Schem-
bechler and Russell and Moeller and
Fisher, I dreamed of attending the
school whose sports teams had so
firmly captured my heart. But I
never imagined this.
For four years, I've been in the
privileged position of being as close
as you can get to Michigan sports
without actually being a part of it. I
remember standing in an endless
line at Metro Airport at 6 a.m. one

morning this fall, watching all the
weary business travelers and know-
ing I had the best job in the world. I
was being sent, on the Daily's dol-
lar, to Oregon to watch a football
game and then, afterwards, to ask
the players and coaches what the
heck had just happened.
My friends would've killed to
trade places with me.
Being a sportswriter has both
magnified the thrills and deepened
the heartbreak. I've experienced
plenty of both. Two moments stick
out: Standing on the sideline, watch-
ing the roses appear as the final sec-
onds ticked off of the Ohio State
game last November, and sinking in
my seat when Minnesota's Thomas
Vanek ended Michigan's Frozen
Four run after I'd spent my.entire
junior year - nearly every day from
September to April - chronicling
the rollercoaster that is Michigan
hockey.
The most unexpected reward has
been the people I've met simply
because I carried the title "Daily
Sports Writer." With some, it was
just for a moment, one article's
worth of peering into their world.
With others, I've spent four years
working alongside them, through
games and road trips and 2 a.m.
computer crashes, and developed
friendships I will cherish even after
distance and time has extinguished
them.
My final column has been in the
back of my mind for the last couple
weeks, but it wasn't until this morn-
ing that it really hit me.
This will be the last time my
name sits at the top of this page, the
last time my words appear in this
newspaper.
My column and I have had kind of
a love-hate relationship all year. I
drove myself insane each week
deciding how to fill my allotted
space. Initially, my concern was that
I would run out of things to write
about. In the end, the problem was
there were so many things to choose
See LEWIS, Page 10

The Eagles have struggled since playing
Michigan early in the season. They have posted a
mediocre 10-15 record overall since then and
have managed just two wins in nine Mid-Ameri-
can Conference games.
Nevertheless, Hutchins refuses to dismiss East-
ern Michigan as a team her Wolverines can sim-
ply roll over.
"We try not to get caught up with records and
other teams' statistics and players," Hutchins said.
"We are our own team with our own strengths and
weaknesses.
"We are going to work on making ourselves
better rather than the situation."
Wilson could have her hands full with Eastern
Michigan's senior Deanna Wisnieski and sopho-
more Nikki Denman, who each tallied three home
runs in five games this past week. The duo pro-
duced 14 hits, 11 RBI and eight runs in two road
series last week against Detroit and Miami, and
the Eagles posted a 2-3 record thanks to the two

consistent hitters. Wisnieski also had one of the
Eagles' two hits against Wilson in the first game
against Michigan.
Today's game marks the beginning of a week-
long road trip for the Wolverines, who are com-
ing off a four-game home stand last weekend.
Fortunately for Michigan, playing at Eastern
Michigan may feel more like a home game.
"It's really nice to be able to play near Ann
Arbor because classes are wrapping up for the
girls," Hutchins said. "Time is precious, and any
time we spend closer to home is best."
Michigan is also preparing to take on Big Ten
foes Iowa and Illinois later this week. The
Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini are currently in sec-
ond and third place, respectively, in the confer-
ence behind the Wolverines.
However, Hutchins doesn't want the team to
get ahead of itself.
"We are going to worry about taking care of
the moment," Hutchins said.

* WATER POLO
e Confident 'M' prepares for Indiana

I I

By Brad Johnson
Daily Sports Writer

Whatever you do, don't call the Michigan water polo
team cocky.
After winning their fourth straight Central Water Polo
Association championship this season and run-
ning off a 12-game winning streak earlier in the
year, the No. 8 Wolverines have nothing but Tis w
confidence heading into this weekend's league,
tournament at Canham Natatorium. F
"I do know that we will be in the champi-
onship game versus Indiana on Sunday" Michi-' ;
gan coach Matt Anderson said. "Hopefully C m
things hold true to form. They've never defeat- .
ed us (since we've been a varsity program)."
But before they get to No. 10 Indiana, the Wolverines
will have to take care of their opponents in the first two
rounds of the tournament. Since it won the league champi-
onship, Michigan received a first-round bye. As a result,
the Wolverines will face either Penn State-Behrend or

Salem International in the second round on Saturday.
During the regular-season meetings, Michigan dominated
both squads, taking care of its potential second-round
opponents by a combined score of 34-8.
"On our side of the bracket, the teams are competitive
with each other, but they're not at the level to be competitive
with us," Anderson said. "Today we game-
planned for our first two opponents, and even
EKEND though we beat them (easily) the first time we
played them, the girls still have to realize that
they have to beat them to (get to the champi-
onship). We have to make sure that we don't get
P~m hit by the sucker punch."
'tttr;um With a win in its second-round game, Michi-
gan will go on to play either Slippery Rock or
Washington and Jefferson for a ticket to the tour-
nament championship.
Although the Wolverines dominated these teams in the reg-
ular season, Anderson is not worried about a potential let-
down.
See WATER POLO, Page 10

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