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April 04, 2006 - Image 11

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-04-04

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 11

Improved
Blue gets
chance at
revenge
By Nate Sandals
Daily Sports Writer
It was a game the Wolverines were supposed to win.
Exactly one month ago, then-No. 8 Michigan took
the field against Western Michigan at the Sunshine
State Tournament.
But the Wolverines lost
to the Broncos, 2-1. It was
the ninth time Western
Michigan beat Michigan 'TODAY
since the schools started N i2 nm
playing each other in eterm hin.
1978.
Today, No. 12 Michigan FrnEhertiet
has a chance to redeem tjun[
itself. Twice. _______
After beginning the Big
Ten season with two victo-
ries over Minnesota on Sunday, the Wolverines travel to
Kalamazoo for a doubleheader against Western Michigan
at Fran Ebert Field.
Unlike the struggling team that lost to the Broncos in
March, Michigan (2-0 Big Ten, 20-9 overall) enters the
game on a 30 1/3-inning shutout streak. Senior Jennie Rit-
ter (10-4) and junior Lorilyn Wilson (8-4) have carried the
pitching load during the stretch and more of the same can
be expected today.
"I haven't decided who's going to pitch yet," Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins said. "But it's safe to say you'll see
Jennie and Lorilyn out there."
Wilson, the losing pitcher in the March game against
Western, has had especially strong outings of late, cur-
rently sporting on a personal 29 1/3-inning shutout streak.
In this Sunday's second game against Minnesota, Wilson
pitched five innings, allowing just one hit and striking out
nine batters.
Michigan's offense struggled in last month's loss to
Western Michigan (3-1 Mid-American Conference, 15-
8 overall). But now the Wolverines are playing like the
offensive juggernaut everyone expected them to be this
season. The offensive resurgence that allowed the Wolver-

Starters struggle
while pen excels
CHRIS HERRING
ON BASEBALL
Generally, 24-17, 31-3 and 20-0 sound like football games scores.
Unfortunately, they have nothing to do with football, and every-
thing to do with the Michigan baseball team.
Let's briefly go through the numbers.
Twenty-four to 17: the number of innings starters have thrown ver-
sus how many the relievers have logged over the last five games.
That's not too bad.
But it gets worse.
Thirty-one to 3: The number of hits starters have given up com-
pared to their relief counterparts in those five games. The three hits
the relievers allowed all came during Sunday's loss to Northwestern.
Up until that point, the bullpen crew had thrown more than 16 innings
without allowing a single hit. But believe it or not, this isn't the worst
statistic either.
Michigan fans will cringe at the last one.
Twenty to 0: this stat represents the number of runs the starters
have given up as compared to relievers. The bullpen recorded all 27
outs against Northwestern on Sunday, allowing just three hits and one
walk on the afternoon.
Now that's bad.
Michigan coach Rich Maloney acknowledges that his starters strug-
gle in the first inning.
"If you take away the first inning, we play pretty good in terms of
pitching and fielding," Maloney said. "Unfortunately, the first inning
counts. We need to be able to make plays in the first inning.
"We spotted (Northwestern) runs in the first inning of four straight
games. It's hard when you start in a hole. That's why it's important to
play good defense and pitch well early so we can gather some momen-
tum."
On Sunday, Maloney tried to combat the problem by starting fresh-
man pitcher Adam Abraham, who at that point was the team's closer,
in an attempt to emerge from the first inning with minimal damage.
"What better guy to have out there (in the first inning) than your
closer to close out the first inning?" Maloney said.
Even though the starters have had their fair share of struggles, the
bullpen, including redshirt freshmen Ben Jenzen and Chris Fetter, has
pitched extremely well, giving reason to expect the light at the end of
the tunnel. The bullpen relievers will do all they can to compete with
those who are currently starters and make the team that much better.
"This is a great opportunity for other players to step up and seize
the moment," Maloney said. "Fetter has been doing that. He has
earned himself the opportunity to start. If some of these other guys
think that they automatically will start because they're veterans,
they've got another thing coming. We're playing to win games."

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
Sophomore centerfielder Alessandra Giampaolo scored three runs in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader.

ines to mercy three of their last four opponents has coin-
cided with the pitching staff's dominance.
According to Wilson, it isn't a coincidence.
"Even if (the opposing team) scores, I have confi-
dence in my lineup that they'll get some runs across,"
Wilson said.
Wilson's assurance is warranted. The doublehead-
er against Minnesota was the stage for an offensive
breakout. Michigan pummeled the Golden Gopher's
pitching staff for eight runs in each game.
Sophomore Samantha Findlay drove in eight runs in
the second game, tying a Michigan single-game record.
The RBI came off a first-inning double, a third-inning

three-run homer and a fourth-inning grand slam to deep
centerfield. Besides sealing a Michigan victory, Findlay's
grand slam also won a lucky fan an X-Box.
Findlay got the glory, but senior Tiffany Haas and
sophomore Alessandra Giampaolo, the leadoff and sec-
ond batters in the Michigan lineup, respectively, were the
keys to Findlay's banner game.
The two went a combined 2-for-3 with three walks and
five runs scored. If the top of the lineup continues to get on
base, the Wolverines should consistently put up bunches
of runs.
With continued dominance from the pitching circle
and hot bats, Michigan's revenge should come easy.

" MOMENTS
Continued from page 10
2. Cinderella, part deux: What more is there to say?
Everyone knows the story: A team that most people thought
would be left out of the Big Dance runs through three for-
mer champs in arguably the Tournament's most memorable
Final Four run ever.
Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut all felt the
wrath of this CAA mid-major. Just because the ultimate Cin-
derella story came up two games short doesn't make the team's
true moment - its overtime win against the tourney-favorite
Huskies - any less amazing.

1. Florida: As much of a feel-good story as the Patriots
were, the Gators truly owned the month of March. In other
seasons, a No. 3-seeded team that began the season 14 spots
out of the Top 25 and eventually won a National Championship
would be huge news.
All of the crazy things that have happened over the past
three weeks, though, might overshadow how great an accom-
plishment this truly is.
But five years from now, when people once again start
confusing George Mason with George Washington and think
Northwestern State is that school Michigan always beats in
football, one thing will remain constant:
Florida was the team able to emerge as champions from the
craziest NCAA Tournament ever.

GATORS
Continued from page 10
After Ryan Hollins' dunk, one of the few easy baskets for the
Bruins all night, Brewer hit a 3 to make it 45-27 and prompt
yet another Bruins TO.
But there was no strategy to stop Noah. The 6-foot- l
son of tennis star Yannick Noah dunked, swatted shots
and dominated the game, much like his dad did during
his magical run to the French Open title in 1983.
Noah had five blocks by halftime, already one bet-
ter than the NCAA championship game record set by
Arizona's Loren Woods in 2001, and he finished with 29
for the Tournament, shattering Woods' record by five.
Noah altered plenty of shots, too - enough that UCLA

big men Hollins and Lorenzo Mata looked covered under-
neath when they weren't. That's what happens when you're
facing an intimidating inside presence, and Noah was cer-
tainly that.
"They left us relying on our dribble penetration and they
either blocked shots or changed a lot of shots," UCLA guard
Jordan Farmar said.
His final block came with about 5 minutes left after the
Bruins had cut a 20-point deficit to 12. Hollins tried to take
it strong as a last-gasp effort to get back in the game. Noah
stuffed the shot, grabbed the rebound and stood calmly,
waiting for things to clear.
About two minutes later, Florida was back up by 16 and
those Gator chomps were starting in earnest all around the
RCA Dome.

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