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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 28, 2005 - 5B

Fenway-like feel

Offense jumpstarts
Wolverines to victory

opens

The Fish

By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
If the weathermen had their way, the Michigan baseball team wouldn't
have even taken the field for its home opener against Oakland on Friday.
All week long, forecasters predicted near-freezing temperatures, high
winds and snow showers for Friday afternoon's first pitch.
But when senior Jim Brauer took the hill for the 78th Opening Day at
The Fish, the conditions were near-perfect for late-March in Ann Arbor.
The sun shone brightly from centerfield, the grass was relatively dry and
light breezes did little to influence play.
With the weather cooperating, the Wolverines cruised past the Golden
Grizzlies, winning 10-0. Brauer was dominant in his final opening day at
The Fish, scattering four hits over six scoreless innings of work. Redshirt
freshman Clayton Richard picked up where Brauer left off in the seventh,
pitching three hitless innings in relief to lock up Michigan's fifth straight
home-opening win.
"It felt good, with better weather than we expected," Brauer said. "You
just want to throw a lot of strikes against a team that's not hitting very
well like that."
The comfortable conditions brought plenty of fans to the park and the stadi-
um's bleachers were mostly filled on the third-base side behind the Michigan
dugout. The attendance total was listed at 614, the largest opening day figure
since the 2000 home-opener against Minnesota drew 800 fans.
And this year's opener featured a surprisingly large student-fan contingent,
who added some life to the traditionally docile crowd. The students initiated
"C-YA" chants whenever Oakland made a pitching change and heckled the
Golden Grizzlies after each run the Wolverines put on the board.
"This is the first (baseball) game I've been to since I've been at Michi-
gan," LSA sophomore Sam Rosenblatt said. "I'm just trying to get involved,
help the team out, give them a boost."
In the dugout, the Wolverines noticed the changes in the crowd.
"(The home crowd showed a) big difference from last year," redshirt
junior pitcher Drew Taylor said. "We had some numbers for some games,
but, for a nonconference weekend, we would not have had this crowd.
They put together some chants, and we've never really had that before, so
that was awesome. It really got the guys going - guys were talking about
it on the bench."
Built in 1927, The Fish lacks the amenities of more modern collegiate ball-
parks. Wooden benches are the only seating option, neither team's dugout con-
nects to its locker room, and the restrooms can only be reached by exiting the
stadium. But for fans experiencing The Fish for the first time, the natural charm

GRIZZLIES
Continued from page 1B
managed to jump out to an early lead
for the first time during the series.
After scoring one run in the first and
three in the second, the Wolverines,
had a commanding lead after failing
to score during the first two innings
of the series' first three games.
Though the Wolverines got a quick
start, they broke away in the eighth
when first baseman Kyle Bohm
dropped a fly ball in front of Oakland
centerfielder Will Tollison. After des-
ignated hitter A.J. Scheidt reached first
on a bunt, senior Jeff Kunkel notched
a single to right field to score a run.
Scheidt and Kunkel scored the Wol-
verines' final two runs on a sacrifice
fly by catcher Matt Rademacher and
an RBI single by right fielder Doug
Pickens, respectively.
Bohm and centerfielder Matt But-
ler led Michigan's offensive charge
all weekend long and each success-
fully fulfilled his individual role on
the team. Bohm, the team's cleanup
hitter, totaled six RBI and Butler, the
leadoff man, was 3-for-3 in Sunday's
game. Butler reached base 11 con-
secutive times in the series before
he flew out to end the eighth inning
of Sunday's game.
With . Butler, Bohm and the
offense finding their tracks late
in the first three games, it was up
to the starting pitchers to keep the
Wolverines in the game until their
bats heated up. In the series opener
on Friday and the doubleheader on
Saturday, Michigan received solid
starts from Jim Brauer, Michael

Penn and Paul Hammond. Brauer
improved to 4-0 on the year with
his six shutout innings and Ham-
mond struck out four while allow-
ing only two runs in four innings
of work in Saturday's nightcap.
Penn struck out 11 and retired
15 in a row while pitching six and
one-third innings but failed to earn
the win in Saturday's first game.
"It's definitely frustrating when
you're not getting run production
and run support," Penn said. "But
it's something you have to fight
through as a pitcher. It's your job
to keep your team in the ball game
and we came out with a win so I'm
happy."
Despite Penn's dominance,
Michigan fell behind 4-1 in the
seventh inning and found itself
on the ropes. The Wolverines then
orchestrated a four-run rally dur-
ing their last bats in the bottom of
the seventh, winning when Bohm
scored from third on a passed ball
on a tough pitch.
Senior Drew Taylor, who pitched
three innings in relief during Sat-
urday's night cap, believes that
such a dramatic win helped to tem-
porarily take some of the fight out
of the resilient Golden Grizzlies.
"It's amazing (to win in such
a fashion) because it gets them
down," Taylor said. "As soon as
they finish that game, they have
to go back in and compose them-
selves and come back out and play
another one. When you beat them
like that, dramatically in the last
inning, that team will have trouble
getting up in the second game."

TONY DING/Daily
Freshman Clayton Richard continued his solid pitching, tossing three innings of relief.
of the old park was undeniable.
"It's like Fenway Park," LSA sophomore Dan Mickelson said. "It's old,
but it's awesome. Everyone's got to come out here at least once in their
time at Michigan."
While The Fish certainly remains an old-time ballpark at heart, it made
a significant leap into modernity when it unveiled its new lights for the
2005 season. In previous seasons, the Wolverines played only day games
at home and were forced to suspend games once darkness set in. But the
lighting fixtures - which were installed after last season - now enable
Michigan to play at any hour. The lights came on for the first time during
the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.

Junior Debra Streifler was a rare bright spot yesterday.
Collapses on road

By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
While it wasn't quite as bad as the Yankees'
collapse to the Red Sox in last year's playoffs, the
Michigan women's tennis team suffered its own
heartache yesterday after watching a 3-0 lead at
Wisconsin (2-1 Big Ten, 9-4 overall) slip away
into a 4-3 defeat. The loss capped off a frustrating
weekend for the Wolverines (1-2, 6-8), who lost 5-
2 at No. 2 Northwestern (2-0, 12-2) on Saturday.
Michigan got off to a quick start, sweeping all
three doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead over Wis-
consin. As the action shifted to singles play, the
Wolverines continued to roll. Juniors Debra Strei-
fler and Nina Yaftali notched wins at No. 5 and
No. 6 singles, respectively, to build a 3-0 lead.
The Badgers fought back with relatively easy
wins of their own at No. 2 and No. 4 singles, which
tightened up the match at 3-2.
Both teams watched and cheered as the final
two matches of the day went into a decisive third
set. The action got more intense when Michigan
sophomore Kara Delicata took the final set of the
No. 3 singles match into a tiebreaker, but that's
where the excitement ended for the Wolverines, as
Wisconsin's Lindsay Martin took the tiebreaker 7-
3, to win the match.
All eyes then turned to the action on the No. I
singles court. Michigan senior co-captain Michelle
DaCosta found herself in a battle with Wisconsin's
Katie McGaffigan. DaCosta stormed out of the
gates to capture the first set, 6-0, but McGaffigan
fought back and took the second set 6-4. Using the
momentum gained from the second set, McGaffi-
gan took a lead in the third set that DaCosta could
never overcome. McGaffigan won the final set, 6-
3, completing the Badger comeback.

"There were a lot of close matches," Michigan
coach Bitsy Ritt said. "We fought hard at (No.) 1
and (No.) 3 singles, but we couldn't get either of
the three setters. Things just didn't go our way."
Michigan entered the weekend riding high with
a three-match win streak. But the Wolverines left
it feeling deflated and upset with the failure to con-
vert their hard work into wins.
"We are disappointed, and we should be," Ritt
said. "We have put a lot of hard work in, and we
didn't get the results this weekend."
But the Wolverines are aware that they can't
afford to hang their heads in the middle of the Big
Ten season.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," Ritt said.
"We have big matches coming up, and we need to
understand today's match could have gone either
way and work hard in practice and move on."
Despite the disappointing weekend, the
Wolverines had a few bright spots on which
to build upon. Streifler continued her winning
ways, beating both Northwestern and Wiscon-
sin opponents to extend her win streak to seven
matches. Yaftali also notched wins in both her
singles matches this weekend, which included a
win over a former UCLA teammate, Northwest-
ern's Feriel Esseghir.
"Debra did a very good job for us, beating a
good Northwestern player and then winning," Ritt
said. "Nina also gave us a lift beating a former
UCLA teammate who played ahead of her when
they were there and then saving set points to win
yesterday."
The Wolverines will look to utilize the one-two
punch that Streifler and Yaftali provide as they
look to get back on track when they host Iowa and
Minnesota this weekend.

M continues win
streak in Louisville
By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When the Jennie Ritter fastball turned
into a routine ground ball to end the game, it capped a weekend
that seemed just that - routine. Over the weekend, the No. I
Michigan softball team continued on rampant tear over whoever
stands in its way, winning the Louisville Classic in Louisville,
Ky. in convincing fashion.
But the routine nature of the weekend didn't excite Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins, as she placed her emphasis elsewhere after the victory.
"My concern is that our kids feel like they have to win or
have to be perfect," she said.
"They're such a good ball club - they just need to play and
enjoy it and that will mean a lot."
Michigan (31-1 overall) capped its impressive weekend with a
dominant 7-0 victory over host Louisville (16-12) in the cham-
pionship game. Junior Jennie Ritter went the distance, striking
out nine while scattering four hits over the course of the seven
innings. It was her eighth shutout of the year, improving her
overall record to 14-0.
But it wasn't just pitching that led the Wolverines to the win.
All nine members of the starting lineup reached base by the
third inning - a sharp contrast to the measly three hits they
managed against Louisville in pool play. The Wolverines put
runs on the board in each of the first three innings, securing the
lead in the protective hands of their pitching, which has been
the team's backbone all year long.
"The most significant thing is having baserunners," Hutchins
said. "Our team likes to hit it over the fence, but the most impor-
tant part of our offense is having people on base."
Knocking in her fair share of the baserunners was senior Jessica
Merchant. The shortstop opened the game with a two-run home run
and added an RBI single late in the game for her third RBI.
RBI singles by freshman Alessandra Giampaolo and junior
Becky Marx in the second and third innings, respectively,
added to the Wolverines' lead. The last of Michigan's scoring
came in the sixth, as two Wolverines scored on errors following
Merchant's third RBI of the game.
The Wolverines also faced the Cardinals in their final game
of pool play on Saturday afternoon. Freshman Samantha Find-
lay broke up Louisville pitcher Aja Sherman's no-hitter in the
fourth inning with a home run to right field. A Merchant RBI
groundout in the sixth inning turned out to be the game winner,
as the Cardinals cut the Michigan lead in half in the seventh.
Coming in relief of sophomore Lorilyn Wilson, Ritter recorded
the final two outs to collect her first save of the season. Wilson
went six and one-third innings, allowing one run on six hits
while improving her record to 12-0.-The run Wilson allowed in
the seventh was the first that she had allowed in 61 innings.
"The first game, Aja Sherman pitched very well against us,"
Hutchins said. "I thought our swings were much too big, and
I thought we did a better job in the second game making good
contact."
Michigan defeated Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee
State the opening day of the tournament. Two Merchant solo

TONJY LDING./LDily
Junior Jennie Ritter pitched a shutout yesterday, striking out nine while
yielding just four hits in seven innings.
home runs were the difference against Western Kentucky, as
Ritter threw a two-hit shutout to give Michigan a 2-0 win. But
the bats that were quiet against Western Kentucky came alive
against Middle Tennessee State. The Wolverines prevailed by a
17-1 margin, ending the game in five innings.
Michigan followed a four-run first inning with a nine-run sec-
ond. Findlay and Marx each had four RBI, while Merchant and
senior Nicole Motycka each added two. Motycka also picked up
the win, going all five innings to improve her record to 5-1.
The Wolverines face one final tune up before their home and
Big Ten opener. They travel to Bowling Green on Wednesday
before Iowa comes to town this weekend.

E
I
I

Michigan finishes Sunday sloppy
By Billy Heister resulted in a snowball effect where mis- We have faced some tough opponents so
Daily Sports Writer takes began piling up," Sapp said. "By far this season. But what it will take for us
the middle of the round, we got to a point to have success at the Big Ten Champion-
Battling adverse weather conditions and where we couldn't recover." ship is a focused mindset in which we are
shaken self-confidences, the Michigan But the weekend was not without its only competing against ourselves. With
men's golf team tied for 11th place out of highlights. Junior Christian Vozza led the that in place nothing will slow.us down."

20 teams at this weekend's Furman Inter-
collegiate in Greenville, S.C. Michigan
opened the tournament on Friday with its
third-best team total of the season and top
total of the spring (292). The team also
put together a strong second round Satur-
day with a 296, sitting in eighth place at
the end of the day. But Michigan's play
went from sharp to sloppy with a disap-
nnintina 'AA veterdav that forced Michi-

Wolverines for the fifth time in eight tour-
naments with a 220 total, tying for 20th
individually. Vozza opened the tournament
with an impressive 3-under 69. Fifth-year
senior Rob Tighe was also a bright spot
for the Wolverines, tying for 45th with a
225 total. He shaved off a stroke from his
first round 74 to card in the second round
an 1-over 73.
The team has amnle onnortunity to

HEY, THE BASEBALL
AND SOFTBALL TEAMS
ARE PRETTY GOOD.

v.n .. .. ... d.. :i: '

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