DANCE FLOOR 2B
On the road and at
home, Michigan is
king of the court
MEN'S & WOMEN'S TENNIS 4B
Monday, April 2, 2007
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
gets ig win
By CHRIS MESZAROS BY THE NUMBERS
Daily Sports Writer
Mother Nature proved to be better
competition than host Northwestern
for the Michigan baseball team this
(4-0 Big Ten,
outscored the Wildcats 39-15 in this
weekend's series sweep.
Saturday's second game of a double-
header was suspended in the bottom
of the sixth inning because of dark-
ness. That game concluded on Sun-
day and the Wolverines won 11-3. In
Sunday's scheduled game, the fourth
of the series, Michigan was down 1-0
after four innings when the umpires
decided to implement a rain delay.
The game resumed two hours later,
and the Wolverines won 14-7.
But those two victories weren't as
easy as usual, considering the weather
the teams had to play in.
With baseballs sailing all over and
players struggling to find the ball in
the heavy winds all weekend, there
was plenty of room for error.
Michigan handled the weather
well, but the inclement weather got
the best of Northwestern (0-4 Big
Ten, 6-15 overall).
In Saturday's second game, a Mich-
igan player hit a shot to Northwestern
rightfielder Antonio Muld. While try-
ing to make a play, Mule bobbled the
ball and it rolled behind him. In an
attempt to recover the ball, he slipped
on the wet grass and ended up having
to crawl toward the ball.
Then in Sunday's game, the wind
played a big factor in another Mule
dropped fly ball. This time, he ended
up running all the way to the wall to
The miscues didn't stop there.
Later in the game, Northwestern
shortstop Kenneth Avila hit a ground
ball to Michigan's Adam Abraham at
third base. But Avila came up a little
bit short on his run to first, stumbling
and then falling in the wet dirt and
See WEATHER, Page 3B
STATE COLLEGE - As the
Michigan and Penn State women's
gymnastics teams prepared for,
their final routines, the hearts of
2,729 fans pounded at Rec Hall in
And the lives of 14 gymnasts
A .375 point Michigan lead
seemed precarious at best, and the
voracious Nittany Lion crowd ren-
dered any advantage moot. The
Wolverines held their own in the
vault, but four amazing perfor-
mances on the uneven bars by Penn
State obscured the outcome. As
the events concluded, both teams
headed back to their locker rooms,
clouded in mystery and ready to put
an end to the agonizing wait. Nei-
ther team knew who won, but both
experienced a lifetime worth of jit-
ters as the results were tallied. The
announcer said that the top two
teams were separated by a mere
loth of a point, hushing the crowd.
The moment of truth finally
came and the response couldn't
have been more pronounced. The
women donning the maize and
blue shot into the air at the news of
their Big Ten Championship, and
the tears of joy flooded the stage,
stamping an explanation point on a
rollercoaster season for Michigan.
"I'm just so overwhelmed at how
proud I am of these kids," Michi-
gan coach Bev Plocki said. "We had
so many injuries and so many bad
things happen. These kids fought
through every single setback we
had and they never gave up."
The scoreboard read Michigan
196.575, Penn State 196.475. The
Wolverines' surreal victory was
assured. But it wasn't until the pho-
tographers snapped team pictures
and handed out championship T-
shirts and hats that reality set in.
Their pose was symbolic of their
mission this season. They embraced
on a small platform, figurative of
their team effort that won them the
championship. As the teammates
stood there, they weren't a group of
bodies composing a team, but ateam
that overcame so much to achievea
goal many thought unlikely.
"This was the most emotional
season and the season where we
pulled together the most," junior
Katie Lieberman said. "We worked
together as a team and have been
so close, we had some bumps in the
road, but we overcame the adversity
and came away with the win."
Michigan came into the match as
a slight underdog, which is unusual
given it has won 13 of the past 15
titles. But the injury-plagued Wol-
Michigan's margin of victory over Penn State
Number of key Wolverine gymnastsout for
Numberof Big Ten titles for Michigan in the
.. - . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . .
verines had to prove they could
unite together and bring home a
trophy without their full roster.
Two-time All-American Lindsey
Bruck and freshmen Jordan Sexton
and Sarah Curtis were all lost for
the season with injuries.
"This team is an amazing group
of young ladies," sophomore
Huneth Lor said. "We've been
working so hard to pick up from all
the injuries that winning makes it
all the better."
The Wolverines followed the
Nittany Lions in the rotation and
bested Penn State's performance in
every event except the uneven bars.
Michigan posted near season-high
scores on all events and pulled away
with exceptional performances on
the balance beam and floor exer-
cise, which are generally two of
their weaker routines.
Becky Bernard led Michigan on
the balance beam.
She captured her first individual
championship in the event, tying a
career-high score of 9.900. She fol-
lowed this up with another amaz-
ing performance on floor exercise
with amark of 9.850.
"Becky is my nervous Nellie,she's
such a talented athlete in practice,
but she gets so nervous when she
competes and we've been working
on that all season," Plocki said.
Lieberman's second consecutive
Big Ten Individual Championship
on Floor Exercise (9.900) comple-
mented Bernard's effort. Lor came
up just short in the all-around to
round out the individual accolades
for the Wolverines.
Michigan finished up the eve-
See CHAMPIONS, Page 3B
Michigan's Zach Putnam was dominant on the hill and at the plate. The sophomore pitched eight innings for
Friday. In the three remaining games, Putnam had six RBI to lead a potent Wolverine offense past the Wildca
By ANDY REID for anything better.
Daily Sports Writer Junior Doug Pickens stepped
up to the plate and crushed the
EVANSTON - Players from first pitch after the interruption
both Michigan and Northwestern for a home run. The blast sparked
laid on the artificial turf yester- anoffensive outburstthatresulted
day afternoon in Northwestern's in eight combined home runs and
practice facility as they traded a 14-7 win for Michigan, which
jokes. Two hours had passed completed a four-game sweep of
since Northwestern led 1-0 in bot- the Wildcats.
tom of the fourth inning, and the "You have to stay loose dur-
rain delay was about to become a ing a rain delay," said senior Brad
canceled game. Roblin, who added another homer
Then the rain let up, and the post-stoppage.
Wolverines couldn't have asked Since they were already in
Evanston, the Wolverines figured
they might as well go out and win,
But it wasn't as easy as the Wol-
Sporting a comfortable 13-run
lead in the bottom of the ninth,
Michigan couldn't seem to finish
off Northwestern (0-4 Big Ten, 6-
Wildcat senior Geoff Dietz hit
a three-run home run over the
leftfield wall. Although the fan
favorite's shot sparked comeback
See BASEBALL, Page 3B
'M' falls short in
chance for title
Bat slenced in
' y Saturday defeat
By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS - On the night
of Friday's Big Ten team finals, the
second-ranked Michigan men's
gymnastics team awaited the com-
for sophomore Jamie Thompson
- who hid his tears beneath a
jacket - the Wolverines faced their
disappointing fourth-place finish
(214.35) with stony stares.
After getting off to a shaky start
on the parallel bars, the Wolverines
never fully recovered. Following
the second event, high bar-where
only two gymnasts got through
their routines without coming off
- Michigan fell to fifth place.
"I think the biggest reason (we
didn't win) is that we don't have
confidence, honestly," sophomore
Kent Caldwell said. "We train well,
and we hit well, and we can't trust
ourselves in the meet to let our-
selves go to that training, and let
our bodies take over."
Floor exercise, as usual, was the
high-water mark. Thompson posted
a 9.45, tying his career-high in one
of the grittiest performances of the
night, his left leg tightly wrapped
from mid-thigh to mid-calf. And
Caldwell, the top-ranked floor man
in the nation, nailed his demanding
set for a 9.75. At the halfway point,
the Wolverines were in second
place, within striking distance of
first-place Penn State.
But the pommel horse, Michi-
gan's old nemesis, derailed the Wol-
verines' dreams of a Big Ten title.
After two hit routines from sopho-
more Ralph Rosso and freshman
Mel Santander, the subsequent four
gymnasts all came off the horse.
"I think we were chickenshit on
pommel horse," Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "We were scared.
... It takes alot of courage to let it fly,
because the feeling is, if you com-
pete all out, you're going to make
a mistake. But that doesn't happen
- that's when you get your best
To their credit, the Wolverines
didn't give up even while facing a
deficit of more than three points.
See BIG TENS, Page 3B
By DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - The 10th-ranked
Michigan and eighth-ranked
Northwestern softball teams met
this weekend for the fifth and sixth
times in the past 11 months.
Wolver- MICHIGAN 11
ines were NORTHWESTERN 4
away from MICHIGAN 3
sweeping NORTHWESTERN 4
ence-favorite Wildcats and taking
an early lead in the Big Ten title
After an 11-4 win in game one
Friday, Michigan took a one-run
lead into the sixth inning of game
two Saturday. But Northwestern's
Jessica Miller crushed a mammoth
two-run home run to leftfield that
landed atop of the 50-foot high
Welsh-Ryan Arena - about 215 feet
away from home plate. The shot, the
longest hit in Sharon J. Drysdale
Field history, gave the Wildcats a 4-
3 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Although Northwestern came
back to win the second game of the
series, salvaging a split and taking a
2-1 advantage over Michigan onthe
year, at least one Wolverine is confi-
dent her team will have a chance to
regain the upper hand.
"Yeah, we did lose (Saturday),
but we battled both games, and the
second game could've gone either
way," freshman catcher Roya St.
Clair said. "Unfortunately it went
the other way. But we're going to
face them again, so I'm not wor-
But a quick glance at Michigan's
schedule doesn't show another
meeting between the teams in the
regular season. So what gives?
"Big.Ten Tournament," St. Clair
But for the Wolverines to win,
or even get, a rematch of last year's
Big Ten Tournament Champion-
ship, they have plenty of work to do
- both defensively and offensively.
"We need our pitchers to be a
little more commanding more con-
sistently, every pitch of the game
and just have a demeanor of 'I'm
going to beat you,' versus holding
your breath," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "The bottom line is
we had moments of timid, whether
it was at the plate, not getting our
See SOFTBALL, Page 38
Junior Samantha Findlay hit a home run in Saturday's first inning.