April 12, 2005
sports. michigandaily. com
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thrives m all
By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS - Whether it was a pressure situa-
tion or a game in which she was pitching with a big lead,
sophomore pitcher Lorilyn Wilson rose to the challenge
this weekend for the No. 1 Michigan softball team.
"I try to focus on every pitch and throw my best
game (regardless of the circumstances)," Wilson said.
After junior Jennie Ritter shut down Minnesota's
offense in the first game on Sunday, Wilson followed
with a complete game one-hitter in Michigan's 11-0 vic-
tory - a perfect exclamation mark for the weekend.
In the first inning, Stephanie Sward started the game
for the Gophers with a slap hit that died along the third-
base line. But Wilson got the next two Gophers to fly out
and then struck out Rachel Keeney to end the inning.
Over the remaining four innings of the game, Wil-
son threw first-pitch strikes and stayed ahead of Min-
nesota's hitters while never allowing another one of
the Gophers to reach base.
"On Sunday, I wasn't that great accuracy-wise, but
I was still good enough to give our team a chance to
win," Wilson said. "That was good."
Even though Wilson pitched with a large lead on
Sunday, she came into a 2-2 game on Friday night
against Wisconsin. When Ritter gave up two consecu-
tive hits in the bottom of the seventh inning, Wilson
stepped into the pitcher's circle with the intention of
sending the game into extra innings by shutting down
the Badgers' offense. Facing Natalie Phillips with run-
ners on first and second and one out, Wilson picked up
a strikeout and then got the next Badger hitter to fly out
to sophomore Rebekah Milian.
After the Wolverines scored a run in the top of
the eighth inning, Wilson faced the top of the order
for Wisconsin. Samantha Polito led off for Wiscon-
sin and hit a slow-rolling ground ball down the first-
base line, and Wilson scooped it up to make the
play at first. Wilson then struck out Katie Hnatyk
looking at an outside fastball and got Kris Zacher to
Everyone has a
story at the Daily*
Sophomore pitcher Lorilyn Wilson allowed one hit in a complete game victory over Minnesota Sunday.
swing at a fastball over her head to preserve the 3-2
Although Wilson lost a one-run decision against Central
Michigan on Wednesday, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
had faith that Wilson could finish Friday night's win.
"In this game, you have to go with percentages and
you got to believe that your kids can do their part,"
Hutchins said. "If she doesn't get it done, we don't win.
That's the bottom line. You play your game, and you
make it work. If we have to rely on luck, then we don't
deserve to win."
Then, on Saturday, Wilson started for the Wolver-
ines and set the tone in the first inning by striking out
the first batter and getting the Badgers to go down one-
The Michigan offense provided a healthy lead for
Wilson by scoring three runs in the third and fourth
innings. But after surrendering a lead-off single in the
top of the fourth inning, Wilson never let the Badgers'
hitters reach first base again. She continually stayed
ahead of Wisconsin's hitters and finished them off
with great movement on her assortment of pitches.
"Lorilyn really only threw one bad pitch (on Satur-
day)," Hutchins said. "She just moved the ball through
the zone and stayed ahead of the Wisconsin hitters
most of the time. She was 1-2 and 0-2 a lot in the first
four innings or so. If she gets ahead of hitters, she's
going to beat them."
Over the span of three days, Wilson totaled three
wins to improve her record to 18-2, and she recorded
14 strikeouts while only allowing two hits in 12 and
two-thirds of an inning of work.
Slim Pickens no more. hmanexcels
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
After losing three of four games to
Iowa despite holding leads late into
each game, the Michigan baseball team
showed this weekend that resilience
was not its strong point. But, freshman
Doug Pickens managed to stay resilient
and raised his batting average by 49
points after struggling for most of the
season. If the Wolverines plan on using
next weekend's trip to Illinois to begin
to salvage any chance of a Big Ten
Title, they will have to rely on players
like Pickens to step up when the going
While the team amassed a 16-3 non-
conference record and had Michigan
fans and players optimistic about their
team's chance to compete for the Big
Ten Championship, Pickens was strug-
gling at the plate for the first time in
his career. Through those 19 games,
Pickens hit only .180, a far cry from
his .525 average and the 15 home runs
that earned him Gatorade High School
Player of the Year honors for the state
of Michigan last year while playing at
Brother Rice High School in Bloom-
field Hills. The adjustment to be made
from high school to college baseball
was immense, and Pickens began over-
compensating for his mediocre batting
average by swinging for power during
each trip to the plate.
"Early on, I was just trying to do too
much," Pickens said. "With the guys
we've got on our team, you just have
to try and get base hits and get on for
them. We've got some big bats in our
lineup - Bohm, Getz, Butler - so you
just have to let them knock you in."
After he began to slump, Pickens
found that Michigan coach Rich Malo-
ney held him out more often, giving
him little or no action in most games.
But when shortstop Leif Mahler suf-
fered a hip flexor injury on Friday,
second baseman Chris Getz was called
Getz had advised Pickens that, because
of the positioning of Iowa's middle
infielders, hits up the middle would
"Especially against Iowa this week-
end, their second baseman and short-
stop were split open," Getz said. "I told
him, 'If you just hit a chopper up the
middle it is going to go through.' You
just play it up the middle because there
was so much room for error up there,
and that's what he was doing - aim-
ing up the middle makes for a better
While success at the plate seemed
imminent based on his records in youth
and high school ball, playing as an
infielder is an entirely new experience
for the freshman. Pickens was a catcher
in high school and began the year play-
ing in rightfield. While the adjustment
to infield has proven difficult for players
in the past, Pickens believes his experi-
ence behind the plate have helped him
"It's not too bad," Pickens said. "It's
kind of like catching. You just stick
your body in front of the ball, and
you've got time to make the play."
While Getz serves as shortstop,
Pickens has been left with big shoes to
fill. Getz was named a preseason third
team All-American at second base
and was a member of the All-Big Ten
team last year. Getz played shortstop
at Grosse Pointe South High School.
He switched to second at Wake Forest
before transferring to Michigan before
last season and knows that a change in
position can be difficult. Getz is dually
impressed with Pickens's versatility.
"What's pretty impressive is that,
coming into college, I don't think
he's ever played infield, period," Getz
said. "The way he's playing right now,
it shows how athletic he is and how
quickly he picked it up. He's still a little
rusty around the edges, but he's pretty
much done whatever we've asked him
to. I'm impressed."
Daniel Horton called me out for
something I had written about
him in a Daily article.
In an article I described a collared
shirt he wore as "metallic." Daniel told
me several times the description was
I guess I should have said silver.
Briefly after our informal exchange,
we rose from our seats along the corri-
dor of courtroom four at the Washtenaw
Daniel pleaded guilty to a misde-
meanor five minutes later.
This guy hates my guts.
Understandable, since I covered his
criminal trial. I'm telling people who
will never meet him what kind of shirt
he's wearing while his life is on trial. I'd
hate me too, or, at least be so annoyed
with my presence that I'd have to make a
But I wasn't entirely sure how person-
ally to take the comment until I found
myself face to face with Horton again
- about a month later - outside of
Wendy's in the Union.
We made eye contact.
I saw his body slowly swing away
from an engaging conversation.
I turned to appease the situation,
thinking: Dan must still hate me.
And then, while I awkwardly
searched for words, he extended his
hand to shake mine.
We talked about the hockey team and
his summer plans. And then we wished
each other the best of luck.
A classy move.
Another life lesson learned. And I've
heard these types of stories over and
over from my colleagues at the Daily. I'd
like to share some of them with you.
One of the perks is getting to interact
with the athletes and coaches (Michigan
or non-Michigan) - a relationship in
which there lies a mutual respect. Well
... most of the time.
"(Hockey player) Mike Woodford
said to me once, 'Tell him to go fuck
himself... yeah, go fuck yourself man,'
after I wrote a story that said he hadn't
played much to start the season," hockey
writer Ian Herbert said. "But later, he
came up to me and shook my hand.
"Milan Gajic is always pretty hilari-
ous to talk to. He always speaks his
mind and has fun with reporters. He
shoots pucks at reporters who are stand-
ing behind the glass and then comes off
the ice and goes, 'Oh Jeez, not you guys
And sometimes, the coaches will say
that you asked a stupid question, like
softball coach Carol Hutchins did to
staffer Jamie Josephson, or a player will
mock you like Michigan women's bas-
ketball player Kelly Helvey did to beat
writer Matt Venegoni.
Other times, they'll hug you in the
locker room after a game or write you
an e-mail saying how much they appre-
ciated an article.
More importantly, you'll gain the tru-
est perspective of a person. It's all about
Said staffer Ellen McGarrity: "Last
summer, while interning for ESPN
The Magazine, I was sent to a party at
Sony Recording Studios to interview
Ron Artest. One of the vocal groups
he manages - Allure - was having
an album release party and Ron was
promoting the group. The crazy thing
about it was that Artest is actually
the nicest athlete I've ever interacted
with. What struck me about the inter-
view was that he treated me as if I
were an equally interesting person.
So, of course, I was shocked when
just a couple months later, he was put
on probation from the NBA for his
aggressive actions at the Palace. It
just made me realize that athletes and
celebrities in general often have many
more sides to them than the media
decides to show us."
What drives us is not the personal joy
we take in meeting these famous - or
not-so-famous - people, but, even if
only for a brief moment, humanizing
them. Most of us fail to realize that ath-
letes are extraordinary beyond just the
physical; they are some of the wisest,
most inspiring men and women to walk
And we get to ask them questions.
Staffer Jack Herman can attest.
"One of the most inspirational people
that I have interviewed here was Michi-
gan boxing coach Christian Roux. He
could not walk as a child, and through
boxing he not only managed to learn
how to walk but boxed his first match
like a year after he started training.
Then, he coached a group of brothers
who won a ton of Swiss and European
championships and then coached one of
the brothers to become a world cham-
At Michigan, these people are
all around us; Olympians like gym-
nast Elise Ray and swimmer Peter
Vanderkaay may sit next to you in your
early-morning psychology lecture;
national champions like wrestler Ryan
Bertin or runner Nate Brannen may
meet you at the UGLI for a group-proj-
ect; even future NFL stars like Michi-
gan wide receiver Braylon Edwards may
party with you at Scorekeepers.
All of them have pushed themselves
further than you can imagine. All of
them have inspired young kids. All of
them have a story that needs to be told
so that you can realize, "Well if this per-
son beat the odds, maybe I can too."
As clichd and sappy as it sounds, we
are all here because of each other. Never
in my life have I seen such an eclectic
group of students - of all races, gen-
ders, personalities, religious affiliations,
whatever - assembled to work together
to create such a massive, tangible piece
of work. On a daily basis.
"(I'll miss) everything," said Ian
Herbert, the Managing Sports Editor.
"The late nights - here until 2, 3, or 4
a.m. and then going home and not quite
wanting to go to bed yet because I'm
still giddy from the nightside. I don't
think I'd get that at my next job."
Giddy because of staffers like Jack
Herman, whose brutal honesty and
easy-going nature makes us all cry with
laughter when he tells stories of high-
school hijinx and hookups.
And most of us - even Herbert,
who's our boss - never even considered
joining the sports staff as underclass-
"I did computer science for almost
two years before I started at the Daily
and for another year before I real-
ized CS wasn't for me," Herbert said.
"I remember calling my dad my first
semester after coming to the Daily cry-
ing because I didn't think that I could do
CS, English, my job that paid me money
so that I could pay rent and buy food,
and the Daily all at the same time. He
told me to quit everything else before I
quit the Daily, and that was probably the
best advice I ever got."
And some of us just wanted to find
our place at such a large university.
"I thought that it would be a good
extracurricular, and I love sports,"
Venegoni said. "I figured it would be
pretty easy and fun. Well, two years
later, I'm still here and it's not as easy as
I thought, but it is a blast. Plus, I wanted
to leave some kind of mark on this place
(Michigan). I figured that, if I was ever
lucky enough to get a column, I could be
unique in some kind of way."
Of the 30 sports staffers, about 10 to
15 of us want to pursue sports journal-
ism professionally. Venegoni, a pre-med
student, cut his Christmas break short
to cover a Michigan-Michigan State
women's basketball game. Basketball
beat writers Josh Holman, a future
lawyer, and Brian Schick, a future his-
tory teacher, traveled to Georgia Tech
on a Tuesday night to cover a men's
basketball game. Just this past weekend,
softball writers Seth Gordon, 25, and
Kevin Wright, 18, drove to Wisconsin
and Minnesota to cover the team.
Where else on campus can freshmen
and seniors bond so tightly, save for a
All of us have sacrificed to cover
events at some point. But, as Detroit
Free Press baseball writer/Daily staff
mentor John Lowe likes to say, "The
Daily is your real education."
It truly is.
I'll let the words of my colleague and
friend, staffer Dan Bremmer, bring you
down the back-stretch.
"Michigan-Michigan State football
game this year. Standing two feet away
from the pylon for overtime was amaz-
Doug Pickens has remained resilient this season, and his batting average improved
49 points this weekend.
to fill in for Mahler, leaving a starting
position open for Pickens. While start-
ing a freshman can be a risky venture,
Maloney's choice has paid dividends.
"We needed (Pickens) to come in
when Leif got hurt," Maloney said.
"For him to answer the bell and come
on in there and play, it's huge. I'm glad
to see him get some hits there, it's much
needed for him and for our team."
During this weekend's series against
Iowa, Pickens went 6-for-13 at the
plate, finding gaps in the defense that
had been eluding him all season long.
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