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April 12, 2006 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-04-12

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Wednesday
April 2, 2006
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

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Junior Rebekah Milian's speed has made her a catalyst for the Michigan lineup.

For Milian, seed kills

By David VandeVusse
Daily Sports Writer
Rebekah Milian shouldn't need an
introduction.
The junior leftfielder has been a
part of the Michigan softball team's
starting lineup since her freshman
year, recently notching her 130th col-
legiate start. But she remains rela-
tively unknown in the shadows of
stars like sophomore Samantha Find-
lay and senior pitcher Jennie Ritter.
Milian doesn't have Findlay's
power or Ritter's fastball, but she has
an equally lethal attribute: speed.
The Grand Blanc native's quick-
ness is unparalleled. Every time she
puts the ball in play, she's a threat to
reach base. She consistently collects
infield hits, and her pace often forc-
es opposing infielders to make poor
throws on what would normally be
easy outs.
Her game-changing speed was on
display last week.
Against Western Michigan last
Tuesday, the Wolverine bats were
struggling to produce runs until Mil-
ian stepped to the plate. She slapped
a pitch up the middle and hustled
to first, narrowly beating the throw.
After reaching third base, she was

knocked home by senior Tiffany
Haas, posting what proved to be the
game-winning tally. Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins called Milian's play
"a game changer."
"My job at the bottom of the lineup
is to set up for the top of the lineup,"
Milian said. "You kind of start off the
offense to set the table for the bigger
hitters coming up."
Milian put on another basepath
show Saturday against Indiana. In the
second inning, Milian reached first
on an infield chopper to the pitcher.
She got down the line so quickly that
Hoosier pitcher Megan Roark didn't
even make an attempt to throw her
out.
Unfortunately for Indiana, Mili-
an's infield single wasn't all she had
in store that inning. She stole second
base with ease, but found herself in a
pickle after trying to tag up follow-
ing freshman Teddi Ewing's fly out to
centerfield.
She jockeyed in between the two
bags as Hoosier infielders threw back
and forth, closing in on her. Eventu-
ally, Milian made her break and slid
into second. There was a moment's
silence as the crowd waited for the
call. When the umpire signaled safe,
Michigan fans erupted in applause.

"She's an excellent baserunner,"
senior catcher Becky Marx said.
"Baserunning isn't something you
just pick up. You've got to work hard
at it, and she definitely does."
Milian utilizes her speed on both
sides of the ball. Defensively, she
is consistent and hasn't committed
an error from her spot in leftfield in
more than two seasons. In each of
the past two Women's College World
Series, she has come up with clutch
catches on the run that a less athletic
player couldn't have made.
"If the ball is hit her way, I can
count on her to catch it," Marx said.
"And her throws are right on the
dot."
But don't be mistaken, Milian is
not a one-dimensional player. She
has more than just her legs to thank
for her spot in the starting lineup.
She ranks fifth on the team in batting
average with a .282 mark, and her on-
base percentage is a solid .307.
In the past 13 games, she has
boosted her batting average by nearly
.040s, sparked by a 6-for-13 weekend
at the Louisville Classic. The Wol-
verines won 12 of those 13 games.
"Her work ethic is ridiculous,"
Marx said. "You want a bunch of
Rebekah Milians out there."

By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
What do Bachman Turner Over-
drive and Michigan baseball have in
common?
They take care of business.
The Wolverines have won 10
straight midweek games against
Mid-American Conference oppo-
nents. Their last loss came against
Eastern Michigan on May 5, 2004.
Michigan hopes to continue the
trend this afternoon when it squares
off against Toledo at the Fish at 3:05
p.m.
"We're a better team, and we
need to go out there and beat them,"
said junior Leif Mahler following
Michigan's Sunday win over Minne-
sota. "We'll need good pitching, and
we'll need to wait for our pitch and
hit the ball real well."
Michigan has already beaten two
MAC teams this season - Central
Michigan and Bowling Green -
with solid pitching in both games.
Against the Falcons, redshirt fresh-
man Ben Jenzen tossed 3 1/3 score-
less innings, and the Wolverines
pulled away for a 7-4 victory. A week
later against the Chippewas, Michi-
gan's bullpen combined to throw 6
1/3 innings, allowed just one run to
go along with nine strikeouts.
The Wolverines' pitching staff
face a lineup that is hitting just
.257, good for ninth in the 12-team
MAC.
Leading the Rockets' meager hit-
ting attack is senior Jake Watson,
who leads the team in batting aver-
age (.337), hits (28) and RBI (21).
The Wolverines will also have to
stay on top of their offensive game.
The Rockets are just eighth in the
MAC in fielding, meaning the more
Michigan puts the ball in play, the
more likely Toledo is to make an
error.
Mahler leads the Wolverine
offense with a .352 batting average
and 31 hits.
The team also hopes getting hot
at the plate today will carry over
into this weekend's series against
Ohio State.
"(Playing well) can be a big deal,
especially offensively," Mahler
said. "If you're hitting real well on

BEN SIMON/Daily
Junior Leif Mahler leads the Michigan attack with a .352 batting average.

Wednesday, that's the kind of thing
where you keep that momentum
going into the weekend."
But Mahler said the

team isn't overlooking
the Rockets.
The Wolverines can
gain momentum from
a strong performance,
but they can just as
easily lose it with a
poor one.
And with confer-
ence-leading Ohio
State around the cor-

ToDAe
TN A

Freshman Mike Wilson is the
projected starter for the Wolverines.
He has made five appearances out of
the bullpen this season.
- In his last outing
against Central Michi-
WY gan, Wilson struck out
four batters and allowed
two hits in two scoreless
innings.
"Last year in the mid-
week games against the
MAC conference and
the other teams from
Michigan, we took care
of business against all of those
teams," senior catcher Jeff Kunkel
said. "And we expect to do the same
with Toledo."

ner, lost momentum could be disas-
trous for Michigan, which is trying
to climb back to the top of the Big
Ten standings.

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