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April 08, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-08

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Friday
April 8, 2005
sports. michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

urtie £d Grhn ailg
SPORTS

4

8

- ------------- ----- --- -

After losses,
'M' Nine
aims to get
on track
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
Coming off a disappointing four-game sweep at
the hands of Minnesota last weekend, the Michigan
baseball team looks ahead to its matchup this weekend
with Iowa as a chance to squeeze its way back into the
thick of the race for the Big Ten title.
Although he was disappointed that his team lost
all four games, Michigan coach Rich Maloney took
to heart the fact that his squad managed to keep the

N MEWS GYMNASTICS
Tumblers bouncing

Golden Gophers from breaking
away in the first three games of the
series.
"Really, in (the Minnesota)
series, it was really close games for
three of the games," Maloney said.
"We just had a bad game on Sunday.

o
B ° ' '

back from
By Sara Livingston1
Daily Sports Writert
After struggling at the Big Ten
Championships and failing to finish1
in the top five in the all-around com-t
petition, it was easy for many people1
to write off senior captain Geoff Cor-
rigan - who has recently sustainedt
a strained ankle - as a contender
for the NCAA all-around champion-
ship. But two weeks of practice and
a healed ankle later, Corrigan sits in1
fourth place after the all-around pre-
liminary round and is ready to leadl
his No. 4 Michigan men's gymnas-
tics team to its first NCAA Champi-
onship since 1999.]
"Corrigan hadn't been able tol
practice at all heading into the Bigc
Ten Championships, and that really
hurt us," Michigan coach Kurt Gold-l
er said. "Just being healthier reallyc
helped boost up his confidencet
again and raise his mental attitude.I
And having him hit routines really
brought up our team score. I thinkl
that having a healthy Geoff will give
us a much greater chance at winningl
here at NCAAs."I
In the preliminary round of com-
petition, the Wolverines finished
second in their six-team session,l
earning them - along with Ohioc
State and Penn State - the chancec
to compete on Friday for the NCAAi
Championships.
The first-place Buckeyes - who
won the Big Ten Championships edg-
ing out the Wolverines by 2.575 - are
currently only half a point ahead ofl
Michigan. The Wolverines finished
second on both high bar and vault andt
came in first on floor exercise.t
"I don't know if we can reach 225l
(Ohio State's score at the Big TenI
Championships) because it seemsc
like the scoring here is just a little

Big Tens
bit tighter than it was at Big Tens,"
Golder said. "But we certainly closed
the gap on Ohio State, and that says
a lot about how hard we worked in
between these meets. Another thing
that helped us a lot was Corrigan
being healthy."
Despite doing exceptionally well on
the floor exercise - all four counted
scores above a 9.4, with junior Gerry
Signorelli leading the Wolverines with a
9.475 - the team struggled on pommel
horse, an apparatus it has had problems
with all season. Only juniors Andrew
DiGiore and Justin Laury notched in
scores above 9.0, scoring a 9.150 and
9.225, respectively. Michigan's prob-
lems followed it onto rings and paral-
lel bars, where it finished third in both
events.
By advancing to the finals, the
gymnasts have the opportunity to
compete in the all-around compe-
tition in addition to qualifying for
the individual event championships
with the hopes of earning individual
NCAA Championship titles. Laury,
who won the Big Ten all-around com-
petition, is currently ranked third in
the all-around and - after top-10
finishes on vault, parallel bars, pom-
mel horse and high bar - is in the
perfect position to carry his suc-
cessful routines into Friday's team
competition and then Saturday's
individual competition.
In Friday's team competition, the
Wolverines will be looking to stay
more consistent through all six events.
"The guys are really all disap-
pointed in the areas we had trouble
with today," Golder said. "I think
that the focus will be really good
tomorrow, and I will be very sur-
prised if we don't have a better meet
tomorrow than we had today. If we
do that we could definitely win the
national championships."

I
a

But outside of that, those games could have gone either
way. Even though we didn't hit very much, they didn't
hit very much either."
Michigan bounced back from the sweep and defeat-
ed Central Michigan on Wednesday, 7-2, by playing
the same way that has brought the Wolverines to a 17-3
nonconference record. Maloney believes that the Wol-
verines' trademark style of situational baseball will
help them against the Hawkeyes.
"We just need to do the same things we always do,"
Maloney said. "Middle and other way hitting, hav-
ing good at bats, making sure that we're not swing-
ing at bad pitches. I thought we did a good job of that
(Wednesday)."
Maloney realizes that his team needs wins this
weekend to start climbing back into the race, but he
is focusing on winning individual games rather than
concerning himself with a race for the title.
"There's no question that it's important we get
(wins) this weekend," Maloney said. "It's not rock-
et science. But at the same token, we just have to
play good baseball. I think we have to take it one
game at a time right now. We can't even think of
the race right now. We just need to think about
winning some games and getting back into the
middle of the pack."
ROCKET RICHARD: After joining the Michigan
baseball team for the first time this year, sopho-
more pitcher Clayton Richard earned his first start
for the Wolverines on Wednesday against Central
Michigan. Richard, who serves double duty as a
quarterback on Michigan's football team, pitched
just three innings. Maloney wanted him to be
able to come out of the bullpen for this weekend's
series against Iowa.
"Coach decided on a pitch count and wanted to keep
me under a certain amount of pitches," Richard said.
"That way the recovery time will be less, so I'll be able
and ready to go. It was about 45 or 50, so, hopefully,
I'll be ready to go this weekend."
Because this is Richard's first season as a colle-

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
Sophomore Clayton Richard tossed three innings in his first career start Wednesday against Central Michigan.

giate pitcher, Maloney is happy to see him progressing
quickly as a pitcher.
"I think he did real well," Maloney said. "I think the
more we get him out there, the better, eventually, he's
going to be ... As we get him out there more, he's going
to get a better feel. I think he's been doing a really
good job at this point."
Even though it was his first start, Richard believes
that the difference between a short start like Wednes-
day's and coming out of the bullpen is minimal.
"You're always ready to come in the game," Rich-
ard said. "So whether you come out of the bullpen or
start, it's all the same, you're always prepared to come
into the game."
RUN COUNT: It seems bored Wolverines' fans
have a new sport to capture their attention. After
the hockey team was knocked out in the regional
final of the NCAA Tournament and the basket-
ball team failed to advance to postseason play, the
attendance at baseball games has increased.
Hockey and basketball fans have been getting a kick
out of the close quarters at The Fish, taking note of
the laughs and smiles they get from opposing players
when they use their modified hockey cheers to get in
the heads of visiting teams.
At Wednesday's game against Central Michigan,

the "Run Count" - a modified version of Yost fans'
Goal Count Chant - was led by someone used to
being on the receiving end of those cheers - senior
hockey captain Eric Nystrom.
"It's a beautiful day, and I know some of the guys
on the team," Nystrom said. "I love coming to baseball
games - they are a lot of fun. Some of my teammates
came out, and some of my friends from other teams
are here today. I wouldn't want to spend an afternoon
any other way."
Home fan support is a huge advantage in any
sport - as Nystrom understands from playing in
Yost Ice Arena - and Michigan athletes can often
be found supporting each other on off weekends.
"The athletic community is such a tight community,
and I have so many friends that play on different sports
teams," Nystrom said. "They come and support me, so
when I get a chance, I love coming out and supporting
Michigan."
Nystrom was named the "fan of the game" at
Wednesday's game and thoroughly enjoyed his expe-
rience.
"It's cool - It's definitely a unique experience to
be on the other side," Nystrom said. "The fans are so
amazing at Yost, so to sit out there and be a part of it,
it's amazing."

M SOFTBALL
Blue doomed by
mental -errors

'M' doesn't want to worry

By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
One down, two to go. The Michigan women's
gymnastics team heads to Nebraska this weekend
for its second meet of the postseason. The No. 8
Wolverines - who won the Big Ten crown two
weeks ago - will compete in the NCAA Regional
Championships.
Senior Elise Ray believes that the regionals are a
little bit harder, because it's the meet between Big
Tens and nationals.
"It's sort of a stepping stone, but it's like a really
important stepping stone," Ray said. "So it's a little
bit tough, mentally, to get prepared for, but we're
working really hard as a team."
The Wolverines toughest competition will likely be
host and Big 12 champion No. 6 Nebraska, but they will
also face the Pac-10 runner-up No. 18 Arizona, No. 19
Missouri, Arizona State and Illinois.
"I think Nebraska will be our biggest competition,"
Ray said. "I think.they had kind of a rough start this
year, but they really picked up their game. I think it will
be kind of a battle between the two of us."
The Wolverines defeated Nebraska 195.900-194.200
in Michigan's home opener on Jan 7. But Nebraska has
steadily improved since then, and Michigan learned at
the Big Ten Championships not to underestimate their
competition.
"(Big Tens) proves that we can't take advantage
of any team or think that we're better than any team,
because," Ray said. "Once you're out in competition

everything's fair game, so we have to be on,".
At the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City
on March 26, the Wolverines had some trouble
on beam, and the troubles carried into their final
rotation, the floor exercise. This caused the meet
to be closer than they expected. This Saturday at
regionals, Michigan will start the meet on bal-
ance beam.
"I think Big Tens was a good meet," sophomore
Lindsey Bruck said. "We struggled on beam and
floor a little bit, but it made us really think and come
back into the gym and regain our concentration.
We've done a lot of team beam this week, which is
just kind of like a meet situation, and I think we're
ready to go out and hit."
Michigan has not overlooked the importance of start-
ing off well at regionals.
"We haven't started on beam at all this year, so I
think that it's going to be a really good change for us,"
senior Lauren Mirkovich said. "And we wanted to prac-
tice it so that we can really focus in on that during the
meet. I think it can get us off to a very strong start, and
we'll carry on from there."
The Wolverines must place in the top two to be guar-
anteed a spot at the NCAA National Championships
in Auburn, Ala., April 21-23, but they're not thinking
about that.
"We're aiming to go out there and win so we
don't have be to worried about it," Ray said. "We
don't want another Big Tens where everyone's wor-
ried, so that's going to be our goal - to go out there
and win it."

By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Writer
Softball is a mental game.
As a player, you have to know where
to throw the ball during different sce-
narios. Hesitating and losing focus dur-
ing a game results in sloppy play and
numerous errors.
The No. I Wolverines (3-1 Big Ten,
36-3 overall) found out how much errors
and a lack of concentration can hurt
a team during their first game against
Central Michigan on Wednesday.
"I think that all the errors came
from mental mistakes," junior Tiffany
Haas said. "They were pretty standard
plays. The balls weren't hit hard; we just
played them wrong."
While looking at the stats, some may
hastily blame senior Nicole Motycka -
who started the game pitching for Michi-
gan - for the loss. In her four innings of
work, she surrendered four runs, allow-
ing the Chippewas to take control of the
game.
But none of those four runs were
earned. On numerous occasions, the
Wolverines had chances to keep Cen-
tral Michigan from scoring but failed to
shut the door on the Chippewas' rallies.
After sitting down the first three
Central Michigan hitters in order,
Motycka ran into trouble in the sec-
ond inning. While still a scoreless
game, the Wolverines faced the first
defining moment of the game, when
the Chippewas had runners on first
and second with no outs.
Christin Sobeck hit a sharp ground-
ball that Motycka snagged, but, on her
ensuing throw to first, the ball flew by
freshman first baseman Samantha Find-
lay and skipped into rightfield. Instead
of making the out and halting Central

Michigan's offensive surge, Michigan
found itself down one because of a men-
tal mistake.
"Our defense just fell apart on us,"
junior Grace Leutele said. "When that
happens, it's just not like us. That's just
not how we play."
Later, in the fourth inning, the
Wolverines' defense broke down
again. Already trailing 2-0, Michi-
gan had an opportunity to keep the
Chippewas from increasing their
lead, but errors sunk the Wolverines
again. With a runner on first and no
outs, Lindsey Calme hit a groundball
to senior shortstop Jessica Merchant.
Merchant pulled her glove up too
early and the ball trickled past her,
giving the Chippewas' runners on
first and second and no outs. After
Motycka struck out the next batter,
Christian Dhondt followed with a
base hit to leftfield.
When senior Michelle Teschler
fielded the ball, she threw it to the cut-
off man, but the throw was high and
bounced off the backstop, allowing
Central Michigan to score.
"It was definitely sloppy softball,"
Leutele said. "I don't know if we let
it affect us, but it just looked like that.
Even if you think it's not affecting you,
maybe it is."
The Wolverines scored four runs in
the sixth inning. But instead of taking
the lead, Michigan's four runs could
just tie the game after giving Central
Michigan the lead and momentum with
its costly errors.
In the second game, the Wolverines
had an opportunity to bounce back
from the tough loss and its three criti-
cal errors, but the 7-3 win didn't leave a
pleasant taste in their mouths.
"We had to rebound, but even the
rebound didn't seem like we were play-
ing our softball," Leutele said. "I think
that we have yet to rebound."
While committing two errors, Michi-
gan allowed Central Michigan to come
back and make the game closer than it
should have been.
Although the Wolverines had
a total of five errors, coach Carol
Hutchins knows her team's true abil-
ity and wants to see them reach that
level on the field.
"This team is making too many

IKE H~ ULEBUS/LDily
Sophomore Lindsey Bruck looks to help lead Michigan in
the NCAA Regional Championships this weekend.

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