April 1, 2005
sports. michigan daily. com
PO fRid TSgan tii
By Kevin Wrih
Daily Sports Writer
The snow has slowly melted away, revealing the true
physical appearance of a softball field behind Ooster-
baan Fieldhouse. The base paths have been raked, the
grass has been cut and now Alumni Field is ready for
the No. 1 Michigan soft-
ball team to begin Big
Ten play. Tis WE
After 33 games and M
trips to California, Ken-
tucky and Las Vegas, the 4 pm. tody
Wolverines are excited Non umow
to finally run out to their Alu .. F
positions in front of a
cheering crowd at their
"The Big Ten is a
great thing to be a part of," freshman Samantha Findlay
said. "The fact that our first tournament is open and the
weather's starting to get nice - it's going to be great,"
No. 24 Iowa will travel to Ann Arbor hoping to spoil
opening day for the Wolverines. The Hawkeyes and
the Wolverines have enjoyed a storied rivalry, as they
have constantly battled for Big Ten titles. Over the last
10 seasons, the Big Ten regular-season champion has
either been Michigan or Iowa, with Michigan winning
seven and Iowa winning three. During the same span,
the Wolverines have been to seven Women's College
World Series and the Hawkeyes have been to four, with
two victories over the Wolverines.
Today, Michigan (32-1) will look to take a step
toward another Big Ten Championship this season with
a key victory over the Hawkeyes.
Iowa (27-5) comes into the game having won three
straight in the Hawkeye Classic last weekend. Fresh-
0 WOMEN'S TENNIS
Hot duo provides
spark for Netters
Senior Jessica Merchant and the Wolverines return home for today's game against Iowa.
man Emily Nichols has carried Iowa offensively so far
this season and is currently first in the Big Ten with 12
home runs and 71 total bases.
While Nichols propels the Iowa offense, senior pitch-
er Lisa Birocci comes into Friday's game with 16 wins
- tops in the Big Ten - a .96 ERA, 124.1 innings
pitched and 156 strikeouts. This week, she was named
co-pitcher of the week in the Big Ten along with Mich-
igan's Jennie Ritter. In Birocci's appearance against the
Wolverines last year, she recorded a complete game but
lost in a 3-1 decision.
Michigan will have three top-tier pitchers at its
disposal to counter Iowa's balanced offense attack.
Sophomore Lorilyn Wilson leads the Big Ten with
a .27 ERA while junior Jennie Ritter is second
with a .76 ERA.
Offensively, the Wolverines will look to continue
their slugging ways after launching three home runs on
Wednesday and 47 on the year. Senior Jessica Merchant
leads the team with 11 homers, and junior Tiffany Haas
is coming off a 2-4 performance with an RBI against
Looking toward a tough match-up against a good
Iowa team, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins knows that
it is important for her team to get on the board first.
"When you get out to an early lead, that's kind of a
luxury as long as you don't sit on it," Hutchins said.
The Wolverines will not only face a talented Hawk-
eye team today, but they will also have to face the dis-
traction of playing on the same day as classes for just
the second time this season.
"It's a whole new environment; we haven't played
one game at home," Hutchins said. "We're going to be
at home in front of our fans, and if we start trying to get
outside of ourselves, we're going to have some prob-
lems. We really need to stay focused."
Although Iowa will look to avenge last year's sweep
by the Wolverines at Iowa City, Hutchins believes that
her team will remained concentrated on the task at
"We have to take it one game at a time," Hutchins
said. "We can't win the Big Ten on Friday; we're only
playing in it. The goal is to win Friday and then we'll
worry about Saturday."
By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's tennis team
will probably be able to credit a lot of
the success it will have in the Big Ten
season to the emergence of juniors
Debra Streifler and Nina Yaftali. This
tandem has stepped up its play at No. 5
and 6 singles, respectively, to give the
Wolverines a one-two punch to throw
at the rest of the conference.
Streifler has been red hot since being
reinserted into the lineup at the end of
February and has won seven straight
matches. Scorching everything in sight,
she has'given Michigan an edge on the
court. Not only has Streifler been win-
ning, but her convincing victories have
also allowed her to often finish her sin-
gles matches first.
"Debra has been playing very well,"
Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said. "She
gets out there and gets it done quick-
ly, which puts pressure on our oppo-
Streifler has been consistently domi-
nating her opponents. She hasn't even
given up a set in her current seven-
match winning streak, which includes
wins over two top-10 teams - No. 2
Northwestern and No. 5 Kentucky.
"I just focus on working hard," Strei-
fler said. "Each point I want to do my
Yaftali took a more difficult route
to emerge as a key component for the
Wolverines. After sustaining a foot
injury near the end of nonconference
play, Yaftali had to sit out and give her
body time to heal before the Big Ten
The rest appears to be just what
Yaftali needed. She is the only other
Wolverine besides Streifler who has
made it through the first three Big
Ten matches unblemished and without
dropping a set.
The juniors have definitely been
Michigan's edge in the Big Ten. While
the team's results have not matched
Assistant Ramsey to
coach Eagles hoops
Eastern Michigan didn't have to look
far to find its new head coach.
Michigan assistant coach Charles
Ramsey was named the Eagles new
basketball coach Wednesday and leaves
the Michigan program after four years
in Ann Arbor. Ramsey was also recruit-
ing coordinator at Michigan. He was
responsible for bringing in all the play-
ers over the last four years, including
two nationally ranked recruiting classes
during his tenure.
Ramsey, a native of Ypsilanti,
received his degree from Eastern Michi-
self-set expectations, the Wolverines
would not be nearly as hopeful if not
for the duo's play.
Michigan went on the road last
weekend after demolishing in-state
rival Michigan State at home. At No.
2 Northwestern, the two were the only
players to win their matches in a 5-2
loss. The next day at Wisconsin, the
Wolverines won the doubles point and
Streifler and Yaftali notched quick sin-
gles wins to give Michigan a 3-0 lead.
But the Badgers stormed back to take
the match 4-3.
Although the Wolverines failed
to seal the deal in Madison, the tight
result attests to how crucial Streifler
and Yaftali have been in Big Ten play.
Michigan is aware of the fact that, if the
two keep rolling past the opposition, it
won't take too much help from others to
earn the overall win for the team.
The doubles play could provide
this help. Michigan senior co-captain
Michelle DaCosta and sophomore Kara
Delicata make up the 13th-ranked pair
in the nation. With Streifler making
an impact at No. 3 doubles - she and
sophomore Elizabeth Exon are 4-1 on
the season - Michigan should have an
opportunity to take the doubles point
against any team in the Big Ten.
An experienced singles lineup
could also provide more help. for the
Wolverines. DaCosta combines with
fellow senior co-captain Leanne
Rutherford to provide the bulk of the
team's experience while Exon and
Delicata both entered the lineup as
freshmen last season. If this experi-
ence starts to pay off, the Wolverines
should be able to swing future close
matches in their favor.
"There are a lot of good things we
are doing," Ritt said. "We came up a
little short last weekend. We just need
to put it together."
The Wolverines will look to provide
support for Streifler and Yaftali when
they host Iowa on Saturday and Min-
nesota on Sunday.
gan in 1992 and also served as a vol-
unteer assistant coach for the Eagles
from 1990-93. He served as an assis-
tant coach at Tennessee State, Drake
and California before coming to Michi-
gan in 2001. Ramsey has seen consid-
erable success from the teams he has
coached over the years, with two trips to
the NCAA sweet sixteen and two NIT
titles, including Michigan's 2003 cham-
Ramsey takes over an Eastern Michi-
gan squad that finished 12-18 (5-13
MAC) last season after the athletic
department did not renew the contract of
outgoing coach Jim Boone. The Eagles
have not had a winning record since the
Ramsey could not be reached for
- Brian Schick
' -Nine faces tough road to Big Ten title
By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan baseball team will
begin its quest for the Big Ten confer-
ence championship in the Metrodome in
Minneapolis this weekend. The Golden
Gophers have won the last three confer-
ence titles and are standing in the way of
Michigan's regular season title - which
would be its first since 1997.
But the Golden Gophers aren't the only
team standing in Michigan's way. Illinois,
Indiana and Ohio State all have their eyes
on the prize, and this season should be
a memorable one in the Big Ten. Every
good coach tells his team not to look
too far ahead in the schedule. Michigan
coach Rich Maloney doesn't have to
worry. We'll do that for him.
CURRENT RECORD: 7-l
LAST YEAR'S CONFERENCE RECORD: 21-10
Minnesota has the dubious honor of
wearing the large target on its back. But
after three years of dominating the Big
Ten, this may be the toughest year for
the Golden Gophers. Their 7-10 record
may not look too impressive, but losses to
Arkansas, South Carolina and Louisiana-
Lafayette - all teams with more than 20
wins - prove the team isn't afraid to play
top competition during nonconference
play. Minnesota goes into this weekend's
series against Michigan having won three
of four games, and the Golden Gophers
want to come out strong in an attempt
to win their fourth straight Big Ten title.
Senior third baseman David Hrncirik
leads Minnesota in hits (24) and batting
average (.374). Senior Matt Lorberg heads
the pitching staff with a 3-2 record and a
2.43 ERA. The top hitters on the team are
all experienced players, but the rest of the
lineup is very young and inexperienced,
as is the pitching staff.
CURRENT RECORD: 10-5
LAST YEAR'S CONFERENCE RECORD: 11-21
Last year's team struggled mightily in
the Big Ten, but this season the Illini are
considered the team to look out for this
season. At 10-5, Illinois has gotten off
to a fast start, but the team hasn't proved
itself much with its weak nonconfer-
ence schedule. The true test for the Illini
will be this weekend, when they open
the season at home against Ohio State
- traditionally a conference power-
house. Illinois has five guys hitting over
.340, but the averages drop dramatically
from there. Senior Dusty Bensko has put
up impressive numbers so far this season
(.356 avg, 5 HRs, 15 RBIs) and will be
the spark for the offense. With the excep-
tion of four pitchers, no hurler on the staff
has an ERA above 2.70. Illinois may be
the surprise team in the Big Ten, and, if
the pitching staff stays healthy, Michigan
will have to watch out when it travels to
Champaign April 15.
CURRENT RECORD: 14-6
LAST YEAR'S CONFERENCE RECORD: 9-22
Last year's team started the season
16-7 and then went 9-22 in the Big Ten.
This year, the team is 14-6 and the non-
conference competition isn't much better
than last season's. But one cannot ignore
the team's performance at the plate. As
a team, Indiana is hitting .357 and has
outscored its opponents by 81 runs. The
pitching staff is somewhat suspect, with
a team ERA of 4.26. But in 175.1 innings
pitched, it has struck out 141. The Hoo-
siers start the season at home against
Big Ten doormats Northwestern for four
games followed by a game against Indi-
ana State. Indiana could potentially head
into its series at Minnesota 5-0 or 4-1.
With momentum like that, who knows
what could happen to the Hoosiers.
CURRENT RECORD: 13-4
LAST YEAR'S CONFERENCE RECORD: 19-12
The Buckeye's top pitchers, sophomore
Dan DeLucia and freshman Cory Luebke
each have a sub 2.00 ERA. Their No. I
and No. 3 hitters are underclassmen. Ohio*
State hopes to take this youth and make
a run for a Big Ten title. The Buckeyes
have a tough series this weekend against
Illinois and then will have back-to-back
series at home against Purdue and Michi-
gan State. Ohio State has a real chance to
be near the top of the standings when they
come into Ann Arbor on the weekend of
April 22. The Buckeyes will need junior
Jedidiah Stephen (.339 avg., 4 HRs, 18
RBI) to continue his solid year. They will
also have to rely on the arms of DeLucia
and Luebke to stay in the race for first.
The potential matchup between these
youngsters and the veteran duo of senior
Jim Brauer and junior Derek Feldkamp is
mouth-watering for any baseball fan.
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
$10 Rush Tickets on sale 9 am -
5 pm the day of the performance
or the Friday before for weekend
events at the UMS Ticket Office,
located in the Michigan League.
50% Rush Tickets on sale for
50% off the original ticket price-
beginning 90 minutes before the
event at the performance hall
Three years ago, after she tore her anterior cruciate lig-
ament in practice on Jan. 11, 2002, senior Lauren Mirkov-
ich wasn't sure she would ever compete again. Today, her
recovery from that injury makes her an invaluable asset to
the women's gymnastics team.
"I think it made me stronger," Mirkovich said. "I knew
I could overcome anything. It really taught me a lot about
myself and a lot about fighting for absolutely everything."
Mirkovich - who specializes on vault and the uneven
bars - returned from her injury for the 2003 season to
be named to the NCAA All-America second team after
becoming the NCAA Northeast Regional uneven bars
co-champion. In her final season with the Wolverines,
Mirkovich has become a silent leader for Michigan.
"Lauren is a more quiet person, but that doesn't mean
that she's not a good leader," Mirkovich said. "She's not
a real rah-rah person in the gym and stuff, but she's defi-
nitely somebody that a lot of the girls on the team confide
in. They go to her when they have problems."
overs from injury to lead'M'
In developing relationships with younger teammates, 9.825 in Michigan's win over second-place Penn State
Mirkovich believes that she has instilled in them some of 196.250-196.125.
the things she has learned over the past four years. "It's been great for us to be able to put up six 10.0
"I lead by example, and I try to work as hard as I can start values (on vault)," Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
and do the best I can for the team," Mirkovich said. "One "That's what we need to be able to do. (Look) how close
of my mottos is that I never let anyone tell me I can't do our Big Ten Championship was - .125 - so right there
something, and I go after it. And I think I kind of passed could be the difference. If she's doing a 9.9 start-value vault
that down to my younger teammates." instead of a 10.0 start-value vault, obviously, there's going
Mirkovich has shown her determination through the to be a tenth difference in the start value of her score, so
work she put in this season to upgrade her vault. After her eagerness as a senior to continue to upgrade her vault
starting the season with a vault that had a 9.9 start-value, to a 10.0 vault was a very key thing for us this year."
Mirkovich added another twist to increase the start Mirkovich will be missed next season as a major con-
value to 10.0. tributor to both the bars and vault lineup - both areas
"We didn't have a lot of depth in the vault team, and I've where Michigan has little depth to fall back on. But Plocki
been working on this vault," Mirkovich said. "I worked on will miss her positive attitude more than anything.
it a little bit last year, and I really just wanted to get a 10.0 "Her smile is really contagious," Plocki said. "One
vault. I trained really hard for it. I was just really excited of the things - and this is totally un-really-gymnas-
that I could help out the team. It didn't even matter if I was tics related - that Lauren brings to the team and to
going to be in the lineup or not - just the fact that we the program every day is her smile and her great posi-
could have (another) 10.0 vault." tive attitude. She - 98 out of 100 days - comes in
Her hard work paid off. Mirkovich performed her here just with a big bright smile on her face, and she's
new vault in the Big Ten Championships and posted a positive and enthusiastic."
Rimasto Orfano ("Abandoned Orphan")
Eio Greco I PC
Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholetn, artistic directors
FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 8 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 2, 8 PM
At the cutting edge of European dance and dance-theater,
Emio Greco I PC showcase their trademark style of extreme
minimalism, aka "Extremelism", with their 2002 creation
Rimasto Orfano ("Abandoned Orphan").
t . The Department of
y rW n Communication Studies
presents a Howard R. Marsh
, ,s ,alecture by
UMS Choral Union
Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra
CHARLES A. KROHN
2004-2005 Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism