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April 16, 2007 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-16

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4B - Monday, April 16, 2007

SPORTSMONDAY

4

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Late error opens

Wasted

door for comeback chances

By ANTHONY OLIVEIRA
Daily Sports Writer
It only takes one hit to win a
game.
Or one mistake to lose it.
Heading into
this past weekend, NOTEBOOK
the No. 9 Michigan
softball team's defense was ranked
second inthe nationwith a.983 field-
ing percentage.
But one miscue in the second
game of Sunday's doubleheader may
have cost the Wolverines a win.
With Michigan up 3-0 in the sev-
enth and a base runner on first, Illi-
nois' Hope Howell executed a solid
bunt down the third base line. Pick-
ing up the ball, freshman third base-
man Maggie Viefhaus fired it well
over junior Samantha Findlay's head
to the foul fence halfway into right
field. The runner on first scored and
Howell advanced to third, igniting
an Illini rally.
The miscue led to a three-run
seventh inning and eventually a 5-3
loss.
"Our defense has been pretty
good all year," Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins said. "You're going
to make some errors now and then.
A goofy ball hit, and it's unfortunate
that (the throw) rolled all the way to
the fence, but to me, that wasn't our
biggest issue. The issue here is that
(Viefhaus) had her head down.... you

can't put your head down, you have
to battle."
Despite the Wolverines' blunder,
they were still the more polished
team defensively against both the
Fighting Illini and Iowa, recording
fewer errors than the opponent in
each game. For the weekend, Illinois
and Iowa combined for 12 errors to
Michigan's two.
The Fighting Illini hurt them-
selves in game one of Sunday's dou-
bleheader, committing five errors
and two wild pitches. The first mis-
cue came when Illinois pitcher Vicky
Brown threw a wild pitch, allowing
junior Alessandra Giampaolo to
advance to third base. On the next
delivery, Findlay brought her home
for the early lead.
Michigan continued to capitalize
on errors in the fourth inning. With
the Wolverines up 2-0 and a runner
on first, Fighting Illini pitcher Ashley
Wright dropped a two-out pop-up by
Wolverine freshman Molly Bausher,
putting two on. The extra out proved
costly as Viefhaus connected for her
third home run of the season later in
the frame.
"We were really disappointed
in how we played defense," Illinois
coach Terri Sullivan said. "You just
can't give a great team, a ranked
team ... a lot of errors to do some-
thing with."
BACK IN ACTION: After a one-week
hiatus, most Big Ten teams are see-

ing conference action again. The
cancellation of contests has led to an
eligibility reduction for the Big Ten
regular seasontitle. Inpastyears,Big
Ten teams were required to record
15 contests in order to be in the hunt.
But due to recentinclement weather,
administrative officials decided that
12 games will suffice.
Michigan currently stands fourth
behind Ohio State, Penn State and
Northwestern. Although North-
western is the closest to the 12-game
mark with an 8-3 record in Big Ten
play, all other teams should reach.
this mark come season's end.
This means that every contest is
that much more valuable. With six
teams - including Michigan - cur-
rently above .600, each game is mag-
nifiedas teams try to move past the
Wildcats.
The Wolverines' remaining series
are against the bottom five teams of
the Big Ten and they should be the
favorite in each of those contests.
Even if Michigan wins out, the pos-
sibility remains that Penn State or
Ohio State can claim the title with
fewer than two losses.
NOTES: Illinois football head coach
Ron Zook threw out the ceremonial
first pitch on Sunday.... In the open-
inggame ofyesterday's doubleheader
- a 5-0 Wolverine victory - pitcher
Lorilyn Wilson notched a career-
high 15 strikeouts and picked up her
sixth shutout of the season.

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cost 'M'
By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
CHAMPAIGN - For those who
didn't think karma existed, the
Michigan softball team might have
made some believers this week-
end.
And perhaps in just as
much time as it takes for a
well-hit softball to land on the
other side of an outfield fence,
the Wolverines found themselves
on both ends of a one-out, sev-
enth-inning, game-tying home run
- once in their first game this past
weekend against Iowa and again in
yesterday's second contest against
Illinois.
Junior Samantha Findlay
- famous for the 2005 National
Championship-winning home run
- further cemented her status as
one of Michigan's best clutch hit-
ters by clubbing a two-run shot to
leftfield Friday against Iowa. The
blast finally put the Wolverines on
the board in the seventh inning.
No. 9 Michigan went on to win
3-2 with the help of freshman Mag-
gie Viefhaus's RBI single in the
GRADY
From page 1B
comfort level as a Wolverine.
With Grady a question mark,
Michigan won't have the luxury
of a deep backfield, which was
evident on Saturday.
Freshman Brandon Minor, the
lone healthy back on the roster
right now, took just a few snaps
during the final spring prac-
tice. Because of the injuries,
the coaches didn't want to risk
another with Minor. Instead,
fullbacks Vince Helmuth and
Mark Moundros took the major-
ity of the carries.
ILLINI
From page 1B
lead in the seventh inning.
Michigan pitcher Lorilyn Wil-
son allowed two-run home runs
in the seventh and eighth innings
to give the Fighting Illini a 5-3
victory.
Now the Wolverines must look
within themselves and decide
where to go from here.
"This game, definitely,
hurts," Hutchins said. "I think
it hurts big. And it should hurt
them big and how they respond
to it is the most important thing,
how they respond to me, and
how they respond to this loss. I
told them 'This is their turning
point.' "
Illinois entered the weekend
leading the Big Ten in batting
average, RBI, runs, home runs
and most other significant hit-
ting categories.
But Michigan (4-2 Big Ten, 32-
7 overall) held the offensive pow-
erhouse scoreless through the
first 13 innings thanks to Wilson,

10th.
Even though the game went
down in the win column, Friday's
matchup with Iowa resulted in
Michigan leaving a season-high 14
runners on base.
The continued lack of timely hit-
ting came back to bite the Wolver-
ines at Illinois, where they stranded
another 10 runners in yesterday's
nightcap.
Michigan's lack of production
allowed Illinois to flip the script of
the Wolverines' dramatic Friday
comeback. In the top of the seventh
(doubleheaders alternate which
team acts as the home squad),
junior ShannaDiller played the role
of Samantha Findlay and connect-
ed for a two-run home run to right
field. The longball tiedthe game at
three for one inning, before the Big
The good news for Michigan
is that freshman Carlos Brown,
who moved to cornerback at the
beginning of spring practice,
will return as a running back for
next season.
He wasn't with the team on
Saturday.
With Grady's status up in the
air, Brown's return to the offense
is a blessing for the Wolverines.
"I think he's going to be com-
ing back and he's going to be
competing," offensive coordi-
nator Mike DeBord said. "And
that's nothing but a positive for
him and us really, especially
with Kevin's injury."
After amassing 483 yards
on 121 carries as a freshman in
who tossed seven shutout innings
to win game one and freshman
Nikki Nemtiz, who held down
Illinois for four and one third
innings in game two before mak-
ing way for Wilson.
Then Illinois found its groove.
Wilson started the seventh by
walking the No. 8 hitter Sarah
Bryers (.167 batting average).
A hit along with a run-costing
throwing error by freshman third
baseman Maggie Viefhaus set the
stage for Illinois's Shanna Diller.
She wasted no time and jumped
on the first pitch she saw from
Wilson for a game-tying two run
shot.
In the eighth inning, Wilson
gave up another first-pitch home
run, this time to Bryers. The two-
run blast gave the Illini (5-3, 26-
15) the lead and the win.
"'Do you want tobe happy and
content and look back on (the
season)?'," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said she asked her team
after the game. "'Or do you want
to go for the championship and
for the ring? And those who want
to go for the championship have
got to go to the next level'."

Junior Samantha Finiday's home run on Friday was little help for the Wolverines
yesterday when they fell to Illinois 5-3.

Ten's home run-leading team sent
the game winner into Champaign's
blue skies for a 5-3 victory.
Though the parallels between
these two home runs and two
games are apparent, the bigger
worry is the lack of offensive pro-
duction seen in each of the week-
end's four games.
"I felt like we didn't have good
at-bats when we needed them, like
we swung at their pitches," Michi-
gan coach Carol Hutchins said.
"Basically, you have a, champi-
onship approach, or you don't. And
I didn't think that we had it."
The Wolverines' inability to
drive in runs caused them to lose
out on an opportunity to lead the
Big Ten standings. Now, convert-
ing on these opportunities is even
more crucial.
2005, Grady was inconsistent
last season.
He came into his sophomore
year slimmed down and armed
with high expectations. But
Grady struggled to hold onto the
ball and saw his playing time
diminish. He carried the ball just
55 times for 187 yards.
But even with the disappoint-
ing injury, Hart knows Grady is
optimistic about his recovery.
"That's one thing about Kevin
he has a great attitude about
everything," said Hart, who also
sat out of spring practice after
having surgery on his left shoul-
der. "He's not down, he doesn't
think less of himself. He knows
what he has to do."
Hutchins was particularly dis-
appointed in the way her team's
demeanor shifted as Illinois
came back, and the fact her team
missed three signals in the game.
She also pointed out a particular
play in the fifth inning.
With two outs and Michigan
holding a 3-0 lead, senior desig-
nated player Tiffany Worthy was
on third when a pitch in the dirt
got away from Illinois catcher
Lana Armstrong. But Worthy
didn't seem to even entertain the
thought of attempting to score.
"She wasn't ready," Hutchins
said. "She was just standing at
third enjoying the game. That
cost us huge."
It was just one example of how
a potentially sweet afternoon
for the Wolverines turned sour
quickly.
"I told them, our leadership,
after the game, 'We didn't have
good energy,' " Hutchins said.
"They were getting mad. They
were getting frustrated. They
were allowing Illinois to control
them. It's not acceptable.
"You can't give in. You can't
give in and be a champion."

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