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March 13, 2006 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-13

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 6, 2006 - 5B
High scores generate excitement but not victory

By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
Against most teams, a 9.90 is good
enough for at least a top-three finish in
the event.
At least that's what Michigan junior
Carol MacNamara hoped after she
posted the impressive score in the No. 9
Wolverine's opening event, vault.
But the score didn't hold up. Michi-
gan senior Jenny Deiley followed suit
and posted a 9.95,
and MacNamara SA,
finished fourth ICHi .
behind Deiley and
Georgia's.Kelsey Ericksen and Court-
ney Kupets, who all tied for first. Led
by Deiley and MacNamara, the Wol-
verines came out of vault tied with No.
1 Georgia.
Michigan continued to compete well
against the reigning national champi-
ons, but eventually they fell short in a.
valiant effort, losing to the Bulldogs,
197.625-197.100, on Saturday night at
Crisler Arena.
"We didn't win the meet, but for us
this was a huge stepping stone, to be
able to put four events together in the
same competition," Michigan coach
Bev Plocki said. "Georgia has been
the number one team in the country all
season long, and we came within five
tenths - basically a fall. I think that
we're on our way up. We still definitely
have room to improve. We want to do
that. It was a great sign tonight, to see
that competitive drive in my team, that
they were able to step it up and rise to
the level of competition."
The night was not without its bumps
in the road, but the Wolverines put up
incredible performances under pressure
that made those bumps nearly insig-
nificant. After a fall in the fifth spot on
beam, All-American Lindsey Bruck
mounted the apparatus and executed a
nearly flawless routine to earn a 9.900
and place third behind the Bulldogs'
Kupets and Katie Heenan, who both
scored 9.950s.

"That's part of the beauty of being
part of a team," Plocki said. "One per-
son can have an off night one night, and
the rest of the team can say, 'Hey, we've
got your back, don't worry about it."'
Then it was MacNamara's turn to
take back the spot light. After an early
fall in the floor lineup, every Wolverine
had to be on target. MacNamara bested
a string of clutch performances, earning
her second 9.900 on the night and tying
Georgia's Kelsey Ericksen for second
behind Kupets.
"She's been awesome," Plocki said of
MacNamara. "Carol and (sophomore)
Nellie (Kipley) often do not get a lot
of the kudos because they're not all-
arounders, but both of those two have
been putting up very valuable scores.
Carol (wasn't) not feeling so hot (Sat-
urday) night so for her to do that even
when she's not feeling so good is just a
sign that she's a real competitor."
Kipley posted three solid scores of
9.8 or better on the way to Michigan's
season-high score.
Despite the loss, it was still an excit-
ing meet for the 3,227 fans in attendance.
Former Olympian Kupets posted a 39.8,
the second highest all-around score by
any gymnast this season. The Georgia
freshman won every event, averaging a
9.95 and earned a perfect 10 from one
judge on the uneven bars.
"It's pretty amazing, I guess," Kupets
said. "It's a pretty high all-around score,
but I just take it event by event, and it's
more fulfilling to me to have that great rou-
tine than to have that all-around score."
With three all-around competitors
who posted scores of 39.500 or higher,
Georgia is tough competition. But the
Wolverines may have one more shot at
the Bulldogs at the National Champi-
"I really think our team is stepping
up," MacNamara said. "We're coming
together, and there's a fire in us. We're
starting to get to that drive for the top.
We're right up there with them in every
event. I think it'll be interesting to see
who comes out on top."

Lindsey Bruck was almost perfect on the balance beam against Georgia. Jenny Deiley running toward her impressive 9.95 score on the vault.

Women's golf headline right here

By Lisa Gentile
Daily Sports Writer
Senior golfer Amy Schmucker had high
hopes heading into the SunTrust Lady Gator
Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. this weekend.
Coming off a win in last weekend's Rio
Verde Collegiate Tournament and after
being named Big Ten Player of the Week, she
hoped to continue her success. Unfortunate-
ly, Schmucker fell short of her expectations.
But, that didn't stop her from tying for ninth
place and leading the Wolverines to a fifth-
place finish (906). Florida won the tourna-
ment with a final score of 884.
"I wasn't hitting the ball well at all,"
Schmucker said. "So, having a top-10 fin-
ish for not even coming close to having my
A game, I'm pleased with that. But coming

into the tournament, I had some high expec-
tations, and I didn't meet those."
Shooting two rounds of 75 on Saturday,
Schmucker came back on Sunday and shot a 73
to secure the top-10 finish. Her 223 total was
just six shots behind the individual winner.
"I thought this was a good tournament,"
Michigan coach Kathy Teichert said. "(We
were able) to kind of see where we are, what
our improvements have been over the past
couple of weeks and yet see what we have
to do to get us into the next position and to
improve our games."
As was the case with Schmucker,' senior
Kelly Easton began Saturday's play with a
frustrating first round of 85. But, she came
back with a career-tying, low-round score
of 75 in the second round and then trumped

that score shooting a career-best 74 on Sun-
"(Easton) is a player who has really come
a long way for us," Teichert said. "She has
really given us some good solid play. ... She
brought it back today with a 74."
The Wolverines have some time before
they head off to California for the North-
western Invitational (April 3-4). Teichert
hopes the weather will cooperate and allow
the team to train often before the tourna-
"If we are able to get out and play as much
as we can, I think that's really in a nutshell the
key," Teichert said. "I think our players are real-
ly hitting the ball well, striking it really well,
and it's just a matter of putting the finer touches
on their games and getting enough play."

Murray quiets Pacific bats for a win

Junior Jeff Porter's fourth-place finish at NCAA Indoor Championships earned him All-America honors.
Porter s fastest not
enough to carry Blue

By John Geise
Daily Sports Writer
After a disappointing second-place finish
two weeks ago at the Big Ten Champion-
ships, junior hurdler Jeff Porter set a goal
for himself.
"There was so much motivation for me
coming in from Big Ten's," Porter said. "I
told myself, 'You know what? I am better
than most people think I am.' And, for me,
this race was about coming out and proving
that to everyone."
Porter proved that and more on Friday, fin-
ishing fourth in the 60-meter hurdles at the
NCAA Indoor Championships to claim the
first All-American distinction of his career.
He recorded a time of 7.77, a personal best
and the second fastest time in school history.
"You can never foresee something like
this," Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said.
"You just hope the kids improve. Up until
a month ago, Jeff was struggling. But, over
this past month, he has come into his own.
That's what happens with great athletes.
They have a great performance, and then
they start believing in themselves and doing
exactly what they need to do. Over these
past four or five weeks, Jeff has done that."
But team was unable to build on Porter's
strone Frid av nerformance. and both sonh-

meters where he was narrowly overtaken
at the line by Stanford's Russell Brown for
eighth place. Woods fell short of scoring
- and All-American status - by just 0.63
"I felt like I ran horribly," Woods said.
"Both races were run very poorly strategi-
cally. I embarrassed my team, my coaches
and myself. Hopefully, this is something I
can learn from."
Whitehead, competing in his first triple
jump in an NCAA indoor meet, earned a
mark of 50-7 1/4 in the preliminaries. This
mark was good enough for fourteenth, plac-
ing him outside of the nine-man final by
almost two feet. Whitehead was the first
Wolverine to compete in a field event at the
NCAA indoor meet since Charles DeWildt
(Pole Vault, 2001).
"Whitehead just had some unfortunate
problems with the board," Warhurst said.
"It's an elevated one, and he had never really
gone off one of those before. But that just
comes with the experience of being at the
national championships for the first time.
Next year, he will be ready."
The track team begins their outdoor sea-
son next week, with its throwers going to
the Shamrock Invitational in Conway, S.C.
Even though the performances of two of the
comnetitors were not what the Wolverines

By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
It took 22 innings for everything to fall into place,
but the last five frames the Michigan baseball team
played in the Quala-T Imprint Baylor Classic this
weekend were worth the wait.
After dropping their first two contests 13-7 and
16-0 to Louisiana Tech and Baylor, respectively, the
Michigan (4-6) scored eight runs over the last five
innings of the third game. Senior pitcher Craig Mur-
ray fanned six batters in five shutout innings to help
the Wolverines defeat a strong Pacific team, 13-9.
"Today was a huge victory for our team consider-
ing how bad the loss was (to Baylor) on Saturday,"
Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. "For the kids
to rebound against a good Pacific team that was 11-
6 and that beat some good teams really says a lot
about our kids, especially being down 2-0 and 9-5,
and finding a way to win through adversity was out-
With Michigan trailing 9-5 heading into the top
of the fifth inning and a winless weekend in Waco,
Texas looking like a reality, Maloney turned to his
bullpen for an answer.
Murray's response was loud and clear.
"When I came in I wasn't nervous," Murray said.
"I was just trying to get the first out and getting guys
out right away. I wasn't really thinking about staying
in the whole game. I was just trying to get one out
at a time."
Fifteen outs later, the Park Ridge, Ill. native had
given up just three hits facing Pacific's last 22 bat-
ters, and Michigan fed off of his play, chipping
slowly away at the deficit. Two runs in the sixth and
one run each in the seventh and eighth pulled the
Wolverines even with the Tigers heading into the
top of the ninth.
"Murray was huge," junior shortstop Leif Mahler
said. "All of our pitchers were giving up runs and
were getting knocked around the park. To have
somebody come in the game and step up was really
big. It gave us a chance to finally win the game."
And win the game is exactly what Murray did in
the bottom of the ninth.

Senior Craig Murray pitched five shutout innings in relief for the Wolverines in their win over Pacific.

next two and forced the Tigers' last batter to pop-up
to end the game.
"The ninth inning was a lot of fun because I had
a lot of adrenaline going;' Murray said. "It was nice
to have a comfortable lead. Because we were up by
four, I was able to attack hitters with hard fastballs
and hard sliders. That is what allowed me to get
those punch-outs and the win"
The game against Pacific started like the pre-
vious two ended - with Michigan trailing. The
Tigers jumped to an early 2-0 lead after the first, but
it didn't take long for Michigan to respond and put
five runs on the board in the top of the second. After
fifth-year senior catcher Jeff Kunkel singled, sopho-

the Wolverines had three consecutive singles to take
a 5-2 lead.
Following Michigan's top of the second spurt and
Pacific's one-run innings in the second and third, the
Tigers added a five-run frame of their own in the
fourth to take a 9-5 lead.
This just set up the emphatic ending.
Even though the Wolverines' comeback against
Pacific was impressive, to tenaciously return from a
16-0 shellacking at the hands of a hot Baylor team
was more remarkable.
"Against a really good Baylor team, it just wasn't
our day," Maloney said. "It was a tough one to swal-
low. I think it says a lot about our team that we were

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