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April 02, 2007 - Image 11

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0 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Rg~ E

Monday, April 2, 2007 - 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailv.com Monday, April 2, 2007 - 3B

CHAMPIONS: Plocki leads Blue to
13th championship in 15 seasons

From page 1B
ning on vault, its most success-
ful event. But a series of amazing
routines reinvigorated the Nittany

Lions and the home crowd. Penn
State's Corissa Pirkl and Katie Per-
ret stuck beautiful routines, scor-
ing 9.900 each, but fell just short of
Michigan.
The win is an exclamation point

inPlocki'sillustrious career andher
most memorable championship.
"I've been coaching 18 years, and
there's no championship that's ever
made my heart feel as good as this
one." Plocki said.

WEATHER
From page 1B
not even making it halfway down
the first-base line.
"We were kind of chuckling and
then Abraham threw it across," first
baseman Nate Recknagel said. "He
r could have practically ran it over."
AN ODD DOUBLE PLAY: In the top
of the fourth inning, the Wolver-
ines had sophomore Zach Putnam
on third base with Abraham at the
plate. Abraham hit a ground ball
to third base and Putnam dashed
home. The Wildcat third baseman
fielded the ball and threw home.
He got Putnam in a pickle and the
Ann Arbor native was eventually
tagged out.
But somehow, it got worse.
BASEBALL
From page 1B
hopes in the ninth, he finished the
game 1-for-4 with three strike-
outs.
With the game getting tight-
er than expected in the ninth,
sophomore Adam Abraham took
the mound to close out the game.
The first Wildcat batter Abraham
faced grounded to shortstop Jason
Christian, and Michigan turned a
double play to end the game.
"I'm just glad they didn't call
the game," Michigan coach Rich
Maloney said. "The crew chief
wanted to call it. ... I felt like if we
played the whole game, we had a
good chance."
Michigan (4-0, 15-6) struggled
through slow starts all weekend.
Just 10 percent of the Wolverines'
total runs over the course of the
weekend came in the first three
SOFTBALL
From page IB
bunts down ... We can't allow it."
The Wolverines (1-1 Big Ten,
26-6 overall) took an early 2-0
lead with back-to-backhome runs
by sisters Samantha and Angela
Findlay in the first inning.
Northwestern (1-1, 25-7) tacked
on runs in the third and fourth
innings to tie the score at two.
In the bottom of the fifth,
junior centerfielder Alessandra
Giampaolo drew a one-out walk
after falling behind 0-2 in the
count. Three batters later, Angela
Findlay made the Wildcats pay
for the walk by singling Giam-
paolo in.
BIG TENS
From page 1B
Led by Rosso (9.65) and senior
co-captain Andrew Elkind (9.5),
the rings squad put on a show,
with five of the six gymnasts
notching scores over 9.0. And
the vault team turned in another
solid performance.
Unfortunately for the Wol-
verines, it wasn't enough. And
because vault finishes so much
faster than the other five events,
they had ample time to watch the
other Big Ten teams nailing sets
around the Sports Pavilion. Amid
the roars of the huge crowd,
Michigan was a small island of
silence. For the third year in a
row, the Wolverines had to watch
Ohio State gymnasts raising the
Big Ten trophy.
"Right now, I feel like last
year, honestly," said Rosso, who
turned in one of the best overall

While Putnam was in his run-
down, Abraham tried to make it
to second base.:Unfortunately, the
heads-up catcher threw down to
second base and caught Abraham
in a rundown of his own. A simple
toss to the first baseman capped
off the 5-2-4-3 double play.
"We were going for a contact
play." Maloney said. "Any ball that
was hit, the guy runs."
CALLED HOME RUN?: Senior Brad
Roblin did something Sunday he
had never done in his Michigan
career - hita home run.
It took four years, but on a 2-
1 count, Roblin got an off-speed
pitch, turned on it and hit a shot
to left field that flew right past the
Ohio State flag.
"That was exciting," Maloney
said. "I'm happy for him to get
that, it's something he'll always

remember."
Hitting your first career home
run as a senior is one thing, but
what occurred before is a nut-
shell for a weekend that was full of
wacky moments.
During the rain delay, Roblin
was talking with two friends who
he used to play baseball with about
the game.
"We were just sitting there talk-
ing during the rain delay and they
were saying, 'This day is ridicu-
lous, you're probably going to hit
a home run,'" Roblin said. "Then
I came out and it happened. I was
just glad they were here."
Maloney, although very happy
for his senior leader, made certain
the home run didn't get to his head.
"I told him, don't be thinking of
them (home runs), the wind was
blowing out," Maloney said.

DEREK BLUMKE/Daily

Junior Samantha Findlay flashed her speed this weekend, stealing secnnd base against Nnrthwestern.
Freshman bats spark
offensive outburst

innings.
With the score knotted at one
in the Big Ten opener on Friday,
freshman Chris Berset hit a home
run. As in every game this week-
end, Michigan used one big offen-
sive play to ignite its bats.
"Chris Berset's jack was big for
us," Maloney said. "When a fresh-
man comes in and hits a jack like
that everyone goes, 'Woo.' You
know, it gets us over the top."
Sophomore Zach Putnam
showed why he's Michigan's ace,
scorching opposing batters in all
eight innings he pitched. ~
Although the Ann Arbor native
would have liked to finish the
game, Maloney wanted to save the
sophomore's arm for more difficult
series later in the season. Putnam
allowed just four hits and one run
in his fourth win of the season.
With steady pitching through-
out and the bats awake after Ber-
set's hit, the Wolverines won 7-1.
After Miller's blast Michigan
had one more chance in the bot-
tom of the seventh.
Freshman third baseman Mag-
gie Viefhaus led the inning off
with a liner down the third base-
line. Northwestern third base-
man Darcy Sengewald extended,
but was unable to keep the ball in
her glove and Viefhaus made it
safely to first.
Freshman second baseman
Molly Bausher popped up a bunt
for the first out. Then Giampaolo
walked on four pitches.
With junior Michelle Weather-
don pinch-running for Viefhaus,
senior leftfielder Rebekah Milian
lined out sharply to Sengewald
at third. It appeared that Sen-
gewald could've doubled Weat-
showings of the meet. "This feel-
ing, I thought it went away from
our success this season, but obvi-
ously it hasn't."
Saturday night's event finals
provided some measure of conso-
lation. As the competition came
to a close, the Wolverines could
barely stay in their seats - and
keeping their wide smiles hidden
was out of the question.
With The Victors blasting over
the speakers, senior Aaron Rakes
was announced as Big Ten high-
bar champion. His teammates
burst out of their chairs as if
launched by cannons, their thun-
derous cheers resonating around
the arena.
Rakes' high bar title - his first
ever - was the cherry on top of a
night that also saw Caldwell take
third on floor (9.575), Rosso fifth
on rings (9.4) and Elkind fifth on
parallel bars (8.75).
When Rakes posted a 9.475,
victory was by no means cer-

In the first game of Saturday's
doubleheader, Michigan got the
bats going in the third with two
runs.
With a 7-1 lead going into the
bottom of the seventh, the game
seemed to be a mirror image of
Friday's contest, and in more ways
than just the score.
In both games, pitcher Andrew
Hess struggled in the game's final
inning. Stopper Ben Jenzen was
called in to get the save. With
the tying runs on first and third
and Northwestern's power hit-
ter, Antonio Mul4, up to bat, Jen-
zen closed out the game with an
emphatic strike out.
The sweep puts the Wolverines
in great position to make a run
through the Big Ten regular sea-
son.
"What sweeps do for you is
allow you grace at some point in
the season, because you have four
in the good pocket," Maloney said.
herdon up at second to end the
game, but she decided to throw to
first. The throw was over the first
baseman's head and Weatherdon
advanced to third.
With Samantha Findlay up,
Northwestern pitcher Eileen
Canney's fist two pitches missed
and it appeared the Wildcats
were pitching around Michigan's
feared slugger. Findlay may have
thought so, too, because the third
pitch was left out over the heart
of the plate, but she didn't swing.
Still, Findlay walked to load the
bases, bringing up her sister.
The comeback effort ended
there, though as, Angela Findlay
grounded out to the shortstop on
the first pitch to end the week-
end.
tain. Once Ohio State's Willie Ito
missed his release and scored an
8.4, the Michigan gymnasts in
the stands seemed confident that
their teammate would win. After
all, Ito was the last competitor
- wasn't he?
"We were all celebrating (after
Ito)," sophomore Scott Bregman
said. "Then there was another
guy, and we (saw) another guy
come walking over with his
grips, and it was excruciating
just watching, watching as they
put up those nines and then
(wondering) what the next tenth
(was) going to be."
The Wolverines had to wait
on edge through three more sets
after Ito, but Rakes had a stran-
glehold on first.
"I knew I was (in) first, but I
didn't know until the last person
went that I'd won," Rakes said. "It
was awesome. It's been a while
since I've stood on a podium in
medal contention like this."

By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - It took12 innings
for the Michigan women's soft-
ball team to finally break through
against Northwestern.
In their matchup with the
Wildcats last weekend at the
Women4Women Invitational in
Louisville,
Ky., the Wol- NOTEBOOK
verines man-
aged just one run on two hits in
the 2-1 extra-inning defeat.
But once the third inning of Fri-
day's game rolled around, No. 10
Michigan quadrupled their previ-
ous run total against the eighth-
ranked Wildcats.
Northwestern was up 2-0 in the
third inning and had yet to sur-
render a hit.
Then Michigan's young guns
stepped up to the plate.
In just minutes, freshmenAnge-
la Findlay and Roya St. Clair had
driven in three Wolverine runs
and sparked a previously silent
Michigan offense. In the process,
the Wolverines added a fourth run
on a wild pitch.
All three RBI in the inning
-came from freshman hitters. The
only other Wolverine first-year in
the lineup, Maggie Viefhaus, was
on deck when the inning ended.
After taking the lead for good
in the third, the Wolverines put up
another two in the fifth (forcing
Northwestern ace-pitcher Eileen
Canney out of the game) and five
more in the sixth.
"I thought we prepared them

well for the pitching," Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins said. "The
key is not just hitting, but it's
timely hitting. Hitting with the
runners in scoring position."
The Wolverines were one run
away from notching a run-rule
victory (and ending the game
early) against their toughest Big
Ten opponent. It has been three
years since Northwestern last
gave up 11 runs.
RBI SAINT: Hutchins has been
looking all season long for some-
one to step up and take the offen-
sive burden off the top of the
lineup.
After this weekend's series,
freshman catcher Roya St. Clair
answered the call.
St. Clair, who usually bats in the
No. 7 or No. 8 spot, found herself
in the No. 6 spot Friday behind the
power hitting Findlay sisters and
designated player Tiffany Wor-
thy.
Hutchins moved St. Clair up
out of necessity because the hit-
ters usually occupying that spot
in the lineup (Viefhaus and Teddi
Ewing) have struggled lately. But
St. Clair proved to be more than
just a fill-in.
The Livonia native registered
seven RBI (of nine team RBI) in
four at-bats on Friday.
"A timely hit is what Roya had
all day, so that was probably the
key (to the game)," Hutchins said.
"We know she's an aggressive hit-
ter. She needs to be in a power
spot."
St. Clair tallied the most RBI in
a game since Samantha Findlay

eight-RBI game against Minne-
sota last year.
All daylong St. Clair made solid
contact with the ball.
In her first at-bat, she blasted
a long fly to center to lead off the
second. After that, she went 3-for-
3 with two singles and a double,
all of which were strong pings off
the bat.
"I definitely was seeing the
ball, kinda slowed it down in my
mind," St. Clair said. "It seemed
like everything was right over the
plate."
SNEAKY BASE RUNNING: After a
first-inning home run field on a
2-2 count, Samantha Findlay was
intentionally walked in the third
with two outs and first base open.
But just because pitchers won't
throw to the daunting power hit-
ter doesn't mean she isn't a threat
once she gets on base.
With Findlay on first, junior
Alessandra Giampaolo on third
and Angela Findlay up at bat,
Hutchins sent the signal for the
older Findlay to steal second - but
on-the catcher's lazy throw back to
the pitcher and not on Northwest-
ern pitcher Eileen Canney's pitch.
"We had just been working on
a play because Canney is a little
afraidtothrowit,"Findlaysaid. "So
we were just tryingto do a delayed
steal to make her throw it."
If Canney had thrown it to sec-
ond to catch Findlay, the team's
stolen base leader, then Giampaolo
would have had the opportunity
to steal home.
"But sometimes she doesn't
throw it at all," Findlay said.

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