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April 21, 2004 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-21

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18 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Blue wins two
games despite
recent injuries
By Anne Uible
Daily Sports Writer

WILLm MIAUA/Dily
Michigan sophomore Debra Streifier slams a backhand. She followed her sister,
Becky, into tennis and has taken off from there.
For Streifler, sister's
game became passion

Teams have a tendency to fold following the
loss of a top player, but the Michigan softball
team continues to win games on the field despite
being hit with a plague of injuries lately.
The main reason for Michigan's recent lack of
the long ball is the loss of junior shortstop Jessi-
ca Merchant, who sprained her ankle on Sunday
in the first game of the Iowa
series. Sporting a leg brace and
crutches, she was forced to sit
on the bench during yesterday's
doubleheader.
"Her ankle is still really
swollen,"Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "We're all hopeful she will come
back soon, but it's all day-to-day."
Merchant was named last week's Big Ten Play-
er of the Week - an honor she's received three
times this season.
With her home run on April 14 against Eastern
Michigan, she moved into first place on the
Michigan single-season home run list with 14
jacks. She also leads the Big Ten with an impres-
sive slugging percentage (.810).
While attempting to deal with the loss of Mer-
chant, Michigan is also trying to get sophomore
third baseman Grace Leutele completely healthy.
Leutele pulled her hamstring two weeks ago
against Purdue and finally returned yesterday.
"I don't think she's 100 percent better, yet,"
Hutchins said. "But I think she's almost there. I
was proud of her comeback. She was hitting the
ball really well."
Senior infielder Angie Churchill has become
the team's best utility player. She filled in for

TREVOR CAMPBELL/Daily
Michigan sophomore Jennie Ritter shutout Central Michigan in the first game of yesterday's pair.

#I

By Chastity Rolling
Daily Sports Writer
Sophomore Debra Streifler is cur-
rently dominating the tennis courts
with a 10-match winning streak in
singles.
This may be the result of Strei-
fler's dedication to practice. For the
sophomore, practice involves
stretching, jogging, footwork drills,
singles practice, doubles practice
and a warm down.
"Sometimes after classes, and
homework, I don't feel like going to
practice," Streifler said. "But I do
go because I love competing. I am
proud that my hard work in practice
is paying off on the court."
Motivated by competition, Strei-
fler works hard and remains focused
on improving her game.
But collegiate competition has
not always been her motivation.
Debra's older sister, 25-year-old
Becky Streifler, ignited her love for
tennis.
"I started tennis because my sister
played and I needed to do every-
thing she did," Debra said. "After
she quit to join school plays, I stuck
with tennis."
Though Becky did not continue
her tennis lessons, her legacy contin-
ues through to today.
"I was never good at tennis, but
Debra was," Becky said. She defi-
nitely has the athletic genes in the
family."
Becky, who attended the Univer-
sity of Wisconsin and is now a nurse

in the Chicago area, is proud of
Debra's determination.
"Tennis for Debra has gone from
recreation to a way of life," Becky
said. "I look up to her, even though
she is my little sister."
Another quality that Becky
admires about Debra is her ability
to motivate others.
The Streifler house in Highland
Park, Ill., was only big enough for
one tennis star, and Debra was it.
Cultivating this talent was difficult
for her early on, as she was often
compared to her sister. But Debra's
mimicking of her sister would not
last for long. When Becky quit ten-
nis, Debra found athletic cama-
raderie with teammates.
One teammate in particular that
Debra really clicked with at High-
land Park High School was fresh-
man Lindsey Goldstein.
The girls formed a tight bond and
went on to win the Illinois state
doubles title in 2002. Coming to
Michigan, Streifler met her-current
doubles partner, senior Kim
Plaushines.
"I just met Kim last year but we
meshed well," Streifler said. "In
tennis, I'm the baseliner and Kim
attacks the net. We compliment each
other."
Streifler has become flexible in
her playing style and still shines. A
"recreation" that the sophomore
began in her sister's footsteps has
become a friendship-building, self-
motivating sport that allows her to
walk her own path.

Leutele the past two weeks and is currently play-
ing in the shortstop position in place of Mer-
chant.
"When you lose one of your key players you
need all the surrounding players to step it up,"
Hutchins said. "Churchill continues to make
something happen offensively every game. She's
filling in for a big spot. I told her that we don't
need her to do anything more than what she is
doing. I'm very proud of what's she done lately."
SERVING UP SOLID PITCHING: Michigan has given
up only six runs in the past 16 games. This
remarkable statistic is a credit to the Wolverines'
deep pitching staff, which is led by sophomore
Jennie Ritter. Yesterday, Ritter pitched the first
game of the doubleheader and allowed no runs.

Hurling a solid changeup throughout the game,
Ritter didn't allow the Chippewas' lineup much
comfort at the plate.
"I felt relaxed," Ritter said. "I just went in
there and tried working on my pitches each time.
My changeup seemed to be working really well
today. They couldn't hit it, so I just kept using it."
Hutchins was impressed with Ritter's pitching,
but is still critical of her primary thrower.
"Ritter's performance was pretty good,"
Hutchins said. "However, I still think she can
pitch better than she pitches."
BREAKING INTO THE BIG NUMBERS: After
sweeping the series with Central Michigan yes-
terday, the Wolverines hit their 1,000th win in
the history of the program.

WEBER
Continued from Page 17
this past Sunday ... )
Ryan Sosin telling me that this cam-
pus was screwed by getting just one
semester of my columns (I totally agree,
but take comfort in the fact Nas's Ill-
matic is only 40 minutes long).
Receiving feedback on my
columns from my No. 1 fan (if only
because there is only one) - thanks
Krissy! Then getting excited when I
get another e-mail about one of my
columns, just for the person to say it
sucked.
Screaming "I'm the Realest" after
winning a pool game at Mitch's last
Wednesday, only to have a girl throw
her beer and my beer in my face.
Seeing people like Katie Niemeyer
and Stephanie Wright or Jamie Joseph-
son and Anne Uible or Ellen McGarrity
and Megan Kolodgy becoming good

friends through the Daily.
John "his friends call him Joe"
Stiglich hanging out in the building last
week and getting excited talking about
the Cubs.
Matt Singer not getting the beat he
wanted and instead of pouting, working
his ass off to make sure he isn't passed
over again.
Two of our softball writers, Ian Her-
bert and James V Dowd, calling the
Daily at 2 a.m. Monday and asking if
they could stop by after traveling to
Iowa City for the day, and then telling
us we missed out on a great road trip.
I'll take your word on it, fellas.
Eric "Little Bird" Ambinder pouring
his heart into our weekly power rank-
ings even though he doesn't get to put
his name on it.
The mocking voice of Managing
Sports Editor Gennaro Filice.
Meeting someone because of the
Daily that I fell in love with to the point
it's unconditional.
Any sports staffer I didn't mention
above, you know I care about every per-

son on this staff.
I can't help but laugh thinking of the
coincidence that my biweekly column
landed on the last day of publication for
this year. Here until the very end, that's
me (check out the Q&A on page 19).
Most seniors walked away from this
building three months ago after the
Jeopardy issue, ready to move on with
their lives by looking for jobs. I've kept
working here during the second semes-
ter and still haven't interviewed for a
single job (I figured instead of working
on Wall Street with my B-school class-
mates, if worst comes to worst, I can
always just sell them cocaine on their
lunch breaks).
I'm still no ready to say goodbye to
this place; letting go of the Daily is
going to be the toughest adjustment I've
ever made, as I'm left to wonder if I'll
ever be this happy again in my life.

CHI PPEWAS
Continued from Page 17
"After the coaches yelled at me
enough, I knew I really need to get
ahead of the batters," Wilson said.
Though Wilson's shutout perform-
ance led Michigan's defense, Olds
attributed the team's slow start at the
plate, in part, to Central Michigan. The
Chippewas are currently on top of the
Mid-Atlantic Conference and took two
wins from top-10 teams earlier in the
season, one against then-No. 4 Wash-
ington and then-No. 5 Oklahoma.
"(Central Michigan) has excellent
pitching and are a very good team,"
Olds said. "Just because they aren't a
Big Ten school doesn't mean they're
not competition."
Central Michigan kept pace with
Michigan throughout the game, but the
Wolverines got the job done with a
familiar formula they have used all sea-
son so far.
"Good defense and ... being deter-
mined enough to get the hits when we
needed them," Wilson said.

6

Jim Weber can be reached at
jamesinw@umich

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