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March 26, 2007 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, March 26, 2007 - 5B

eniors en careers
on a winning note

Senior Tiffany Worthy and her Wolverine teammates couldn't overcome rival
Northwestern this weekend.
M ngetby
Big Ten riv al

By DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Michigan-
Northwestern softball.
It's the small diamond's version
of Michigan-Ohio State football.
TheWolverinesbested the Wild-
cats in the Big Ten Tournament
Championship game lastyear.
The teams split their two-
game set in the weekend of Big
Ten regular-N
season play, NOTEBOOK
which aided
the Wildcats in taking the confer-
ence title away from the two-time
defending regular-season cham-
pion Wolverines. Northwestern
finished just one-half game behind
Michigan the year before.
They were the highest-ranked
Big Ten teams in this season's pre-
season polls (Northwestern was
No. 4 and Michigan was No. 11).
But when the seventh-ranked
Wildcats beat the sixth-ranked
Wolverines 2-1 in nine innings
Saturday at the Women4Women
Softball Invitational, it wasn't the
typical high-stakes matchup.
As a nonconference game, it had
no effect on Big Ten standings. And
even though neither coach would
admit the contest was even slightly
more significant than the typical
preseason game, both decided to
start their senior aces.
Michigan's Lorilyn Wilson and
Northwestern's Eileen Canney
were both a little shaky in the first
inning, allowing a run apiece.
But Canneysettled down, allow-
ing just one hit and two walks in
the game's final eight innings.
Wilson, on the other hand,
found herself in constant trouble
the rest of the way. She allowed 12
more baserunners and loaded the
bases three times. However, she
got out of most of the jams, thanks
in part to her 13 strikeouts after the
first inning (15 total).
But when she loaded the bases in
the bottom of the ninth, the third
time wasn't the charm. Wilson hit
Northwestern second baseman
Nicole Pauley to force in the anti-
climactic winning-run.
Michigan had a chance in the
top of the eighth inning, with the
bases loaded with one out. Pinch
hitter Angie Danis grounded into
a fielder's choice, bringing up
first baseman Samantha Findlay.
Findlay, who hit the game-win-
ning home run in game three of
the 2005 Women's College World
Series, was hit by the 1-2 pitch. But
the umpire called the pitch strike
three because it was in the strike
zone and Findlay moved into it.
"We just know, to beat any qual-
ity team, you're going to have to
play well and you're going to have
to take advantage of your oppor-
tunities," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said Saturday after the

team followed the Northwestern
loss with a 2-0 defeat against Lib-
erty. "Right now, we are not taking
advantage of any opportunities."
NEMITZ IN RELIEF: For the sec-
ond time this weekend, Hutchins
called for freshman pitcher Nikki
Nemitz to relieve Wilson.
Wilson had allowed just two
hits in the first six innings of yes-
terday's games with Louisville.
"I walked out and I said, 'Lori-
lyn, you did your part and be ready
to go back in,' "
Said Hutchins. "Lorilyn was
awesome. She wasn't down. She
didn't feel like 'Oh, they pulled me.'
We needed to make that change."
Nemitz, a lefty, gave Hutchins
exactly what she was looking for
- a change of pace. The St. Clair
Shores native jammed the first
two hitters in her work against
Louisville, forcing them into first-
pitch infield pop-ups. Nemitz then
struck out Cardinal leadoff hitter
Audrey Rendon with a full count to
end the game.
Nemitz also replaced Wilson
against California Friday. Wilson
gave up six runs in the first two
innings before Nemitz slowed the
Golden Bears, allowing just two
runs the final five innings. Nemitz's
effort helped the Wolverines come
back for an 11-8 win.
"I think when a pitcher comes
out there, their job is to control
the game and we had absolutely
no control of the game," Hutchins
said. "Nemitz came in and did a
really fine job."
HUTCH BEING HUTCH: As if her
team's Saturday struggles weren't
enough to put her in a less-than-
pleasant mood, the umpires pro-
vided plenty of fuel for Hutchins's
rage.
Five-second violations were
called on both Wilson and Canney
in the circle. Coaches on both sides
said after the game they disagreed
with the calls. After Wilson was
called for the violation in the sec-
ond inning, assistant coach Jenni-
fer Brundage went to argue with
the home-plate umpire.
After the inning, Hutchins
argued with the umpire and could
be heard saying "assistant coach."
When Findlay was called out
in the eighth inning, Hutchins
charged down the third base line
(from her position coaching third),
yelling "bullshit!" a few times at
the umpire. After a heated discus-
sion, she went to the dugout.
Senior catcher Tiffany Wor-
thy was called for running into a
batted ball in the fourth inning
against Liberty, to which Hutch
yelled from her third base coach-
ing box, "another bad call."
When freshman rightfielder
Angela Findlay got a hit in the
next at bat, Hutchins yelled to the
umpire, "Two bad calls in the same
day, and we're still getting hits."

By ALEX PROSPERI.
Daily Sports Writer
Before senior night at Crisler
Arena, Green Day's "Good Rid-
dance" played as a video featuring
seniors Lindsey Bruck, Clare Flan-
nery and Carol McNamara was
displayed on the Jumbotron.
After the meet, the three posed
together with their arms around
each other as the fans gave them
a standing ovation for their final
time at Crisler Arena following the
Wolverines 196.075-190.975 win
over Maryland.
The three accomplished gym-
nasts were all emotional duringthe
Senior Night festivities, which also
included a summary of each gym-
nast's career by Michigan coach
Bev Plocki.
"I was trying not to cry, but I
cried anyway," Flannery said. "It
was hard to keep emotions in check
because I've done gymnastics my
whole life."
Said McNamara: "It was emo-
tional. I've done gymnastics my
whole life. I eat, sleep and breathe
gymnastics. So walking out here
for the final time was very emo-
tional. When my coaches came
over to me, I kind of lost it and
started crying."
What makes this group of
seniors unique is that each has her
own story of adversity.
Bruck came into the season with
a chance to become a three-time
All American, but an early-sea-
son Achilles' injury prevented her
from competing for the rest of the
year. But Bruck proved she's just

as good, if not better, of a person as
she is a gymnast.
"Lindsey has changed her role,"
Plocki said. "From being a leader
on the floor to being a leader from
the sidelines, she's been so incred-
ible and valuable for us this year."
McNamara, one of the hard-
est workers on the team, has been
competing allyear with discomfort
after fracturing a bone in her foot,
which caused her to miss 12 weeks
before the season.
"She competes through tremen-
dous amounts of pain," Plocki said.
"Landing those passes isvery pain-
ful for her, I was very happy she
made her floor routine tonight."
Flannery has displayed true
senior leadership after putting in
threeyears of dedicated, hard work
for this one year.
"I can't remember being prouder
of anyone's individual accomplish-
ments," Plocki said.
It was a heartwarming evening
for the 2,405 in attendance - the
largest crowd of the season - but
there was still a meet going on.
And it was clear that the Wolver-
ines had every intention of giving
the seniors a night to remember.
Michigan got off to its best start
of the season, scoring season-bests
on vault (49.300) and uneven bars
(49.275).
The Wolverines were landing
everything and had no falls record-
ed against their score.
On vault, McNamara portrayed
her senior leadership by hitting a
season-best 9.875 and junior Katie
Lieberman tied a career-best score
of 9.900 en route to her fifth vault

title of the year.
Then Michigan scored a
48.925 on beam, still giving
the team a chance to break the
team's season-high score. But
two falls on floor would prove
costly in the end.
The performance of sopho-
more Becky Bernard was over-
looked due to all the attention
given to the seniors. Bernard
tied a career-best 9.950onbars,
which gave the Stow, Ohio,
native her fifth bars title of the
season to go along with her sec-
ond floor title of the season after
tying a season-best 9.900.
But this special night belonged
to the seniors and their four years
of accomplishments.
"This is a great night for the
seniors," Plocki said. "It's always a
very emotional, bittersweet night.
But I just cannot say enough about
them. I keep saying it over and over
again how impressed I am with
them."
Since Bruck has sat almost
the entire season, there is still a
chance she will continue her gym-
nastics career next season if she is
granted a medical redshirt.
Nonetheless, Bruck clearly has
no reservation about her feelings
toward her fellow members of the
Class of 2007.
"Our relationship has been
great," Bruck said. "We come in as
freshman not knowing much and
we have really grown as individu-
als. We've gotten closer together
and it's exciting. They are my best
friends and I would do anything
for them."

SA LLISON GH A-
MAN/daily
Senior Clare
Flannery
competed
in her final
home meet
this week-
end, helpine
the Wolver-
ines defeat
Maryland
at Crisler
Arena.

For Blue, it's goodto be home

By ANDY REID And while the fans may have
Daily Sports Writer enjoyed the inaugural home game
of the season, no one was more
Dark grey clouds hung menac- relieved to be in The Fish than the
ingly in the air as the dreary cold Wolverines themselves.
weather kept many jackets on the Michigan (9-6) finally played in
few fans that made it out to The Ann Arbor after a brutal tour of
Fish. southern and West Coast states in
The constant buzzes and metal- search of warmer climates. Dur-
lic clangs from the construction ing that harsh stint, the Wolver-
outside droned out the sounds ines played top notch opposition,
of baseball through much of the including Troy, Mississippi State,
game. Oklahoma and East Carolina. After
And after a few tighter-than- two close losses to East Carolina
expected innings to start things last week, the travel hours logged
off, the Michigan baseball team by the Wolverines began to take
took control in a routine 9-2 victory their toll.
over Oakland University on Friday. "We'd been on the road for a
Even though conditions were long time playing good competi-
less than prefect and the game was tion," Michigan coach Rich Malo-
less than exhilarating, nothing was ney said. "We played pretty well,
going to put a damper on the thrill but we lost some tough ones on the
of opening day. road trip. It's just hard to be miles
Upon walking into the stadium away (from home) playing nation-
the Wolverines call home, all the ally ranked competition.
tired baseball cliches came to "That beingsaid, coming back to
mind: the smell of fresh-cut grass The Fish really felt good. We get to
and hotdogs from the vendors, sleep in our own beds, and kids are
the swift crack of the bat and the getting back into a routine and into
immediate urge to play catch in their own class schedule. It really
your backyard. feels good, and this is a good start

for us."
Added sophomore Zach Putnam:
"I was actually talking to one of our
guys before the game, and we both
agreed that we've never been so
happy to be home."
The Wolverines may have been
happy to be home, but it still took
them a few innings to get their
bearings against the Golden Griz-
zlies (6-13).
In the top of the third, Oakland
senior Kyle Crepeau tagged up
from third base after a deep ball to
center field. Crepeau made a bee-
line for home plate, knotting the
game at two runs apiece.
But Michigan soon took control.
Putnamsteppeduptotheplatein
the bottom of the third and rocked
a deep single that sent in two runs
from second and third. The shot
awoke the slumbering giant that
was the Michigan offense, and the
Wolverines tallied two runs in four
consecutive innings, starting with
the third.
Maloney identified the play as
the turning point of the game. With
the offense in full swing, Michigan
coasted to the 9-2 victory.

Junior Doug Pickens went 8-for-13 in
this weekend's sweep of Oakland.
"(This win) means a lot, espe-
cially coming off a subpar weekend
and a pretty mediocre weekend the
week before that," Putnam said.
"It's good to be back, and we feel
like we're playing good ball again."
It might not have been the per-
fect day for baseball, and the stale
game itself might have left some-
thing to be desired, but one thing is
sure: It was opening day, and that's
always something to get excited
about.

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