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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 20, 2006

'M Nine' finishes road trips
with winning weekend

By Colt Rosensweig
Daily Sports Writer

Junior catcher Tiffany Worthy used her bat to lead Michigan to victories over Texas and Florida State at the Judi Garman Classic.
Wort hyteanswer to one
question, others unsolved

By Nate Sandals
Daily Sports Writer
Last season, the Michigan softball
team lost just seven games.
This weekend at the Judi Garman
Classic in Fullerton, Calif., the 2006
squad lost nearly half of that total. The
Wolverines dropped three games and
managed just two wins.
Michigan went to California
with a number of gaps in its lineup.
Fixing those breaks, or failing to
do so, was the difference between
wins and losses at the Titan Softball
Complex on the Cal. State Fullerton
campus.
Michigan's most glaring hole was
at the designated-player position. In
the Wolverines' first 17 games, they
lacked production from their desig-
nated player.
"We're looking for a consistent des-
ignated player" senior pitcher Jennie
Ritter said. "We've had some people
have a few solid games, but there are
a lot of people who want that spot. I'm
excited to see who steps up to take it"
With her effort this weekend, soph-
omore catcher Tiffany Worthy might
have done just that.
Playing less than 10 miles from her
hometown, the Yorba Linda, Calif.
native hit the game-winning home run
against No. 2 Texas on Friday. Not

only did the bomb come with two outs
in the top of the seventh inning and
snap Worthy's 0-for-18 slump at the
plate, but she also hit it off one of the
top pitchers in the country, Cat Oster-
man.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
rewarded Worthy for her heroics by
writing her in as the designated player
on the lineup card for Saturday's game
against Florida State, a team Michi-
gan beat twice earlier in the season.
Against the Seminoles, Hutchins's
decision to give Worthy extra at bats
proved to be a wise one. The sopho-
more went 1-for-3 and had four RBI in
the 11-3 Michigan (13-9) victory.
"(Worthy) is going to have the
opportunity to take control of the
designated player position," Hutchins
said.
Another question mark for the Wol-
verines has been the second pitcher
spot.
As a sophomore last season, Lorilyn
Wilson went 22-2 with a 1.05 ERA while
pitching the games that No. I pitcher Jen-
nie Ritter took off. But Wilson has strug-
gled thus far this season, and the pattern
held in Michigan's 7-5 loss to Washing-
ton. Wilson gave up nine hits and seven
runs in three and two-thirds innings
before being replaced by freshman Stacy
Delaney, who pitched two and a third
scoreless innings to finish the game.

Wilson pitched solidly in her other
tournament appearance, a 3-2 loss to
Utah on Sunday. Before being relieved
by Ritter, the Salem, Ore. native shut
out the Utes in four and one-third
innings in the circle.
"(Wilson) knows what she needs
to do," Ritter said. "We've had some
talks with her, and we are all confident
that she can pitch great. Now, all she
needs to do is get that confidence in
herself."
The difference between wins and
losses this weekend boiled down to
clutch hitting. In its three losses, Mich-
igan (12-9) left 28 runners on base. In
their two victories, the Wolverines just
stranded eight teammates.
"It's a fact: When we hit in the
clutch we win, when we don't we
lose," Hutchins said.
Going into the trip to California,
Michigan was hitting .312 with run-
ners in scoring position. But in its
losses, Michigan's stats fell well short
of the mark.
In Michigan's 3-2, extra-inning loss
to an undefeated Louisiana-Lafayette
team on Thursday night, the Wolver-
ines hit just 2-for-15 (.133) with runners
in scoring position.
"We're getting runners on base,"
Ritter said. "It's starting to come
together. Hopefully, we can figure it
out in the next few days of practice."

It took three weeks, but it finally
happened.
The Michigan baseball team won a
weekend series.
The Wolverines ensured a winning
weekend with a 15-8 win over Wagner
on Sunday at The Winthrop Ballpark
in Rock Hill, S.C. Though Michigan
had scored just three runs in each
of its last two games, the offensive
outburst was not surprising. At the
start of the contest, Wagner's (0-11)
pitching corps was already depleted
by two tough previous games, and the
Wolverines repeatedly took advan-
tage of the pitchers' lack of control.
"Today's game was more of a slug-
fest than anything," said senior co-
captain A. J. Scheidt, who was 3-for-5
with four RBIs. "We knew that they
had played some tough games already
and gone deep into their bullpen, so
they weren't going to have very much
pitching. We knew we were just going
to have to keep putting up runs....
We got a lot of strikes to hit today."
The game appeared well on its
way to becoming a blowout when
Michigan (6-7) scored four runs in
the first inning. After catcher Doug
Pickens drew a bases-loaded walk to
push across the first run, outfielder
Derek VanBuskirk smashed a triple
to left centerfield to put Michigan
ahead 4-0.
But junior pitcher Andrew Hess
could not hold the lead, and Wagner
stormed back to take a 7-6 advantage
by the end of three frames. After that,
it was all Michigan.
Redshirt freshman Michael Powers
relieved Hess, and, after a rocky third
in which he allowed all three of his
inherited runners to score, Powers
allowed just one more run over three
innings of work. Redshirt fresh-
man Ben Jenzen and true freshman
Adam Abraham each provided two
more innings of scoreless relief. The
Michigan pitchers settled down, but
the Wagner pitchers continued giving
up walks, granting 11 free passes on
the day.
"Their pitchers were giving up
a lot of free bases, a lot of walks,"
fifth-year senior co-captain Jeff Kun-
kel said. "We were ahead in the count
a lot. We knew we were just going to
have to keep battling, getting runs.
We had a couple of big innings,
scored four right off the bat, and just
kept adding on through the whole
game."

Senior third baseman A.J. Scheidt had four RBI in Michigan's 15-8 win over Wagner.

Three Wolverines - Scheidt, Van-
Buskirk, and freshman Jason Chris-
tian - had four RBI, and it was this
clutch hitting that propelled the team
to victory.
"I think the timely hitting, which
we've been missing, became a huge
factor in today's game," Michigan
coach Rich Maloney said.
The other two games of the Coca
Cola Classic were more convention-
al, low-scoring affairs. In the first
game of the weekend, freshman Zach
Putnam, fifth-year senior Paul Ham-
mond and redshirt freshman Chris
Fetter combined to shut out George
Washington, 3-0. Saturday, Michigan
lost 5-3 to host Winthrop, with senior
Craig Murray taking the loss.
"It was good to come out of the
weekend with two (wins) out of
three, but the game we really would
have liked to have taken would be
Winthrop," Scheidt said. "Obviously,
we were in the game the whole time.
It was the kind of game that, when
we get over the hump, those are the
kinds of games we'll win."

The team hopes the momentum of
this winning weekend will carry over
to their opening games at Ray Fisher
Stadium.
"Winning this weekend was very
important to us," said VanBuskirk,
who was 4-for-5 on Sunday with four
runs scored and four RBI. "Hopeful-
ly, we can go into the Big Ten (sea-
son) on a hot streak. That would be
ideal for us right now."
Having started the season with
four road series, coming home should
be a relief for the travel-weary Wol-
verines. Maloney believes that the
comfort factor, along with momen-
tum from this series win, could be a
big boost for his team.
"Our record isn't where we want
it right now, but at the same token,
we've been on the road a long time,"
Maloney said. "We've had a pretty
solid schedule. Now, we get to be at
home for a couple of weeks, which is
great for our kids. ... It will be nice
to finally play in front of our own
(fans). We're really looking forward
to that."

I

First tourney weekend was crazy,
with much more madness to come

0 WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS
Junior leads the way
on Senior Night

For those of you who survived the onslaught
of 48 hoops games, 24 hours of St. Patrick's
Day binge drinking and endless hours of
apologizing for your drunken debauchery when
you finally sobered up, I offer you my heartfelt
congratulations.
Your reward? More Madness.
What once were 65 teams have
now been whittled down to 16. OaI c
But that doesn't mean there's any w
shortage of excitement. The battle
to crown the NCAA's top dog still has plenty
of candidates. We have the big dogs (Duke,
UConn), the Bulldogs (Gonzaga), the hotdogs
(Rodney Carney) and the underdogs (Bradley,
George Mason and Wichita State).
But besides learning that we can make an
endless amount of canine-related puns, what
have we learned in the 96-hour period of
March Madness that has occurred thus far?
NOT-so-BIG TEN AFTER ALL: Who would have
thought Michigan and Minnesota would be the
last teams playing in March? The so-called
"strongest conference in the nation," as many
Big Ten coaches boasted throughout the year,
showed its true identity in the Big Dance's
first week. Six teams entered the Tournament
with dreams of reaching Indianapolis; six
teams saw their season come to an end before
the Sweet 16.
Teams from the Colonial Athletic Associa-
tion, Conference USA, the Missouri Valley
Conference and the Pac-10 have all advanced

- r

to the Tournament's second week - a feat the
RPI's top-rated conference failed to accom-
plish this season.
IT'S GOOD TO BE GEORGE: Three teams with
George in their names (George Washington,
George Mason and Georgetown)
all qualified for the NCAA
Tournament. With No. 7 seed
Floor Georgetown the highest-ranked
nol l H l George, it appeared as if it would
be hard for any of the aforemen-
tioned teams to advance into the second round,
let alone into the second week. But George
Washington's second-round loss to powerhouse
Duke is the lone blemish on the Georges'
records so far. Both George Mason - thanks
to its drubbing of Michigan State and solid
victory against third-seeded North Carolina
- and Georgetown - who is riding high after
beating both Northern Iowa and second-seeded
Ohio State - have made it to the Sweet 16,
making the Georges 5-1 for the tourney.
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE CAN TAKE A BIG SIGH OF
RELIEF: What a difference a week makes. This
time last week, the director of the NCAA
selection committee was in deep doo-doo
following the royal treatment he gave to mid-
major conferences like the Missouri Valley
Conference. But with two MVC teams still
alive in Wichita State and Bradley, Littlepage
can stop hiding under his desk and laugh in
the faces of mid-major haters like Jim Nantz
and Billy Packer.

MOMENTUM, SCHMOMENTUM: Fourteenth-
seeded Northwestern State - located in the
Natchitoches, Louisiana, a city whose popula-
tion is roughly half of our undergrad popu-
lation - tore through Big Ten Tournament
champ Iowa.
Other tourney champs didn't fare much
better. Big East victor Syracuse ran out of its
McNamojo against Texas A&M. Big 12 Tour-
nament champion Kansas showed it learned
nothing from its first-round upset last year.
The Jayhawks revisited their early exit night-
mares thanks to Bradley's magical first-week
run.
CLASS CAN STILL BE FUN: I don't know about
anyone else, but I think March Madness On
Demand for laptops is the greatest invention
known to man. I'm pretty sure the 15 other
people who huddled around my laptop on
Thursday in my History 218 section to watch
the end of the Boston College game can vouch
for that, too. As for the people who were
making the group presentation during that
time, I'm sure it was good. Sorry for not pay-
ing attention.
So as the next three days come and go, don't
take the time off for granted. Cherish it, take
advantage of it and remember what it's like
to not have your day planned around sporting
events.
Because when Thursday comes around, I'm
sure most of you will be in the same boat as
me - stricken with Madness.

By Sara Uvingston
Daily Sports Writer
It was Senior Night at Crisler Arena, but
a junior stepped up and led the Wolverines
to a 196.950-194.725 win against Michi-
gan State
on Friday
night. ..
After
seniors Jenny Deiley and Becca Clau-
son uncharacteristically struggled in the
opening three events, junior Lindsey
Bruck stepped up and filled the void..
Bruck went on to win the all-around and
ensure that the seniors wouldn't end their
Michigan career with a loss.
Just 30 minutes after being honored on
Senior Night, Deiley found herself strug-
gling to hold on midway through her
uneven bar routine. After transferring
to the lower bar, she broke form, drag-
ging her feet along the mat and spinning
around several times trying to regain
control on the apparatus. Yet Deiley fin-
ished the remainder of her routine, stick-
ing her landing as if nothing had gone
wrong. But the judges didn't forget the
earlier struggles, and the senior received
a season-low score (9.550).
Deiley should have been in the clear,
because she jumped onto her best appa-
ratus, the balance beam, and immedi-
ately nailed two consecutive back flips.
But after struggling to maintain her
stability through three back-to-back
jumps, the senior almost hit the mat
late in her routine. Like before, Deiley
managed to pull the routine together.
This time, a clean landing was enough
to save her score, and she finished with
a respectable 9.800.
"I just think it's just something that
every athlete needs to practice if things
go wrong," Deiley said. "If you have a
lead event. a gond athlete shoul~d be able

At this point, many gymnasts might
have lost all confidence, placing them in
an emotional rut that would carry until
the end of the meet, to erase any chance
of a last-event comeback. But experience
is also key, and, in their four years at
Michigan, both Deiley and Clauson have
learned how to bring themselves back
from rough performances.
"(Strong recoveries) are the things
that we expect from our seniors and
our veterans, and they certainly came
through and did that," Michigan
coach Bev Plocki said.
Deiley and Clauson redeemed them-
selves during their back-to-back floor
exercises - their final regular-season
routines at Crisler Arena. After Bruck
opened the event with a solid 9.825, Dei-
ley took the floor and executed a flawless
routine (9.900), tying for first with two
other gymnasts. Building off Deiley's
success, Clauson continued to build
momentum as she hit every skill, finish-
ing with a score of 9.750 and helping the
Wolverines beat Michigan State.
"I was just thinking about going out
and having fun and enjoy the surround-
ings and the atmosphere and all of my
fans," Clauson said. "The whole Michi-
gan experience was coming to an end in
that routine, and I was just thinking about
having fun and doing well."
Deiley and Clauson's struggles were
out of character for the duo, but the team
never worried. Every time the Wolver-
ines, who led the entire meet, started to
lose a bit of confidence, Bruck stepped
up and made sure the seniors didn't
leave Crisler on a low note.
Just minutes after watching her two
teammates struggle, the junior execut-
ed a flawless routine to win the balance
beam with a score of 9.900. She car-
ried that momentum right over to the
floor exercise, and her clean perfor-

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