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April 06, 2009 - Image 12

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4B -April 6, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com A

F " iftSOFTBALL
Five homers Michigan Findlay slams
Sophomore sends
two over wall in bt
doubleheader split b-ck t

I

4

By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Writer
The "Wallverine" was the center
of attention at Fisher Stadium on
Saturday afternoon.
Michigan must have had a long-
ball magnet hidden behind the left-
field wall during its 9-5 win over
Penn State in the second game of
Saturday's doubleheader. The Wol-
verines hit five home runs in the
game, most of which cleared the
wall at its peak. NOTEBOOK
The red-brick
wall, nicknamed
the "Wallverine" by a member of
the Athletic Department, stands 26
feet high and 100 feet wide. Built
duringthe stadium's recent renova-
tion, the wall is meant to be some-
thing opponents remember when
they play in Ann Arbor.
"When we built the stadium, we
had it put in," Maloney said. "I just
wanted the park to be unique. It
gives it character. And I think from
our standpoint, it gives us some-
what of an advantage in the sense
that our guys know how to play
the wall.... Aesthetically, I think it
looks good, it gives a good feel to
the ballpark, and I've always liked
the Fenway monster, so it's kinda
cool."
After the Wolverines lost 6-4 in
the first game, sophomore center-
fielder Ryan LaMarre jumpstarted
the Michigan offense. LaMarre
who had two of the five home runs
in the second game Saturday and
another on Sunday. But others got
in on the act.
"The dugout usually goes wild
for home runs," LaMarre said.
"It's contagious when you see guys
like (fifth-year senior tri-captain)
Timmy (Kalczynski) doing it. ...
The dugout goes insane."
TWICE AS NICE: The Wolverines
played in just their third double-
header of the season Saturday. And
just like in their earlier double dips,
their offense erupted.
Michigan played two games in
one day at Jacksonville on Feb. 28
NITTANY LIONS
From page 1B
up and make a play," Kalczynski
said. "Those small successes are
contagious just like the small fail-
ures have been contagious."
LaMarre provided one of the

Junior Mike Dufek had three hits, two runs and four RBI on the three-game weekend against Penn State.

and then played another double-
header on Mar. 8 vs. Siena. The
Wolverines were 3-1 in those games
and averaged more than 13 runs per
contest while allowing an average
of just over five runs.
Even though the Wolverines
split this weekend's doubleheader,
the offense again brought out the
big bats.
In each game, Michigan won
using different offensive strategies.
In the first game, it strung togeth-
er timely hits with men on base to
score four runs in the 6-4 extra-
inning loss. But in the second game,
the Wolverines' five home runs car-
ried them to a 9-5 win.
"I think we've played in a lot of
situations this year when the wind
has been blowing out, (and) that's
when we can rely on the long ball,"
lone bright spots for the Wolver-
ines. While his teammates allowed
errors to snowball, he managed to
pull himself out of a slump.
After suffering an eight-game
stretch where he batted 4-for-28
with seven strikeouts and just two
RBI at the end of March, the center
fielder made a strong turnaround

LaMarre said. "But lately we've
been playing in games where the
wind is blowing in at 40-50 miles
per hour and it's goodto have ateam
that can win in multiple ways."
Michigan has no more double-
headers scheduled this season.
DUFEK IN DEMAND: Junior
Mike Dufek has had an interesting
season so far, to say the least. As a
starting position player who also
serves as the team's closer, the Wol-
verines have welcomed his versatil-
ity and ability to throw hard.
"To play 16, 17 innings in the
field and then come out and go on
the mound, that's pretty special,"
senior pitcher Chris Fetter said.
"I know it's very tiring, but he still
came out and was throwing 90, 92
(miles per hour) and he was doing
the job. That's big for us. We need
this weekend, batting 7-for-12 with
nine RBI and three home runs.
"It's nice to see him get going,
because you need your star to play
like a star," Maloney said. "And he
certainly did this weekend."
As the Wolverines drop to .500
in the Big Ten, they look forward
to two non-conference games this

someone like that to ste
close."
In the second game of
doubleheader, Dufek hit
homer, then pitched 1..
to get his third save of tl
His earned run average is
third-best on the team.]
out two batters on Saturd
his season total to 14.
This season, Dufek has
in three games in which h
eventually entered as a pi
"When I go out to pitc
clear my mind of anythin
happened (at the plate) ar
separate thetwo," Dufek s
day. "Because if you take
did at the plate out to the
you struggled at the plat
going to be good because
flustered on the mound."
week before gearing up t
nois in a three-game s
weekend at The Fish.
"This could be a turni
Kalczynski said. "It could
two ways. It could go up
fast or downhill really fas
a matter of how mentally
are and how we respond."

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By IAN KAY out, but also to protect the players'
Daily Sports Writer safety.
"We've put our kids in some
or rightfielder Angela really poor conditions over the
y has hit 11 home runs in years, and why do it if you don't
ichigan career, and she'll have to?" Hutchins said.
'ly hit many more before Saturday afternoon was sunny
duates. and clear, but weather was still
she may never hit another an issue. Even with the aid of
uite like her third-inning sunglasses and visors, outfielders
n the first game of the Wol- on both teams struggled against
s' doubleheader against bright sunlight all day. And swirl-
e on Saturday. ing winds kept the large American
Boil- NOTEBOOK flag beyond the centerfield fence
ers had taut and pointed straight towards
wed right field.
an's lead to one in the top Leading off the top of the third
'the inning, and with her inning in game two, Purdue's
ates screaming, "Get one Liane Horiuchi belted a Jordan
from the dugout, Findlay Taylor pitch to deep right field.
t that. She turned on Pur- Findlay seemed to have a read on
cher Suzie Rzegocki's first it until the last second, but she
.g of the inning, sending a slowed to avoid a collision with
ee drive screaming toward the right-field fence. The ball
field. bounced up against the fence and
mni Field's six-and-a-half- back towards the infield.
ll outfield fences may be By the time Findlay relayed it
ortest of any Big Ten soft- back to the infield, Horiuchi was
adium, and Findlay's drive standing on third base with a tri-
cleared the padding on the ple. She would eventually score
eld side of the 222-foot sign as the Boilermakers (3-3 Big Ten,
ere dropping into a large, 18-12 overall) tied the game at
ubbermaid garbage can. two.
higancoachCarolHutchins, "I thought the sun was a fac-
pent over 30 years in colle- tor a couple times," Hutchins
oftball, said she's never seen said. "I think the one on Angela
run land in a garbage can. kept blowing, but Angela needed
asked for three points," to sprint to the fence and I didn't
ns said. "That was a three- totally see it."
hot." Early-spring softball in the Big
Alumni Field crowd, which Ten may be at nature's mercy, but
upted as soon as Findlay's the elements cut both ways.
'nnected with the pitch, An inninglater, Michigansoph-
out in raucous applause omore first baseman Dorian Shaw
hey saw it land in the can. hit a ball high in the air to left
minutes later, a young fan field. Once the winds took hold,
lover to the can and peered the routine pop up play became an
apprehensively before adventure for Purdue left fielder
ng in and retrieving the Molly Garst. She tracked the ball
yellow prize. towards centerfield but couldn't
lay, who was unaware of make a play as it fell beyond her
ll's final destination until outstretched glove.
urned to the dugout, said Shaw, running hard out of the
aldn't put another homer in batter's box, motored into second
even if she had 100 tries. with a double. One batter later, she
10th-ranked Wolverines would score on an error for Michi-
go on to win the game 3-1 gan's third run of the game.
weep the series with a 4-3 "Regardless, we both had to
ening win in game two. play in the same conditions,"
N, WIND AND SUN: A fore- Hutchins said.
rain on Sunday prompted NOTES: Michigan is 32-2
ns and Purdue coach Kim against Purdue all-time. ... In
to change their Saturday/ eight plate appearances during
series into a Saturday dou- the series, junior catcher Roya St.
der. The decision, which Clair reached base seven times.
nalized shortly before Sat- ... Nikki Nemitz recorded 32 outs
2:00 p.m. start, was made during the series, with 19 coming
ly to protect against a rain- via strikeout.

4

4

4

In return, Williams leads way for Wolverines

4

By FELIX CARREON
Daily Sports Writer
After missing the first part of the
indoor season with an injury and
struggling to compete in the last
few meets of the year, junior Lex
Williams was looking to redeem
himself when he arrived at the
Hutsell-Rosen Track in Auburn,
Ala., on Saturday.
And the Ann Arbor native raced
as if he hadbeen competing healthy
the entire year.
Williams's performances were
the highlight of the Michigan men's
track and field team performance
at the non-scoring Auburn Invita-
tional this weekend.
In the 1,500-meter run, Wil-
liams and redshirtsophomore Peter
Christmas helped pace each other
to second- and third-place perfor-
mances. Williams's mark was good
enough for an NCAA regional qual-
ifying time (3:46.90).
"Lex has been one of the top
athletes for the last few years
and he definitely went through a

rough patch," Michigan coach Fred
LaPlante said. "It was his first out-
door meet so, it was a nice way for
him to start."
Williams wasn't done for the
evening.
With his teammates setting a
fast pace early, Williams crossed
the finish line first in the 3,000-me-
ter run (8:19.32). The performance
was Michigan's lone victory of the
meet. Following Williams's lead,
Christmas finished second in the
event (8:24.82).
"It was really a tremendous race
he had in the 1,500," LaPlante said.
"Then he came back and won the
3,000. It was a track record."
Though no one else took home
an event title, the rest of the team
shared Williams's success.
Senior Dan Harmsen continued
to improve his time in the 400-me-
ter hurdles. Competing against one
of the best hurdlers in the nation,
Harmsen finished second (51.21)
to Reuben McCoy, a recent Auburn
alum, who finished second at the
NCAA Championships last year.

The invitational was an opportu-
nity for the Wolverines to prepare
for their much-anticipated match
up with Ohio State in the outdoor
edition of The Dual next weekend.
The last time around, Michigan
hosted the indoor meet against the
Buckeyes on Jan. 17 and lost, 77-85.
The meet was decided in the final
event, the 4x400-meter relay. The
Wolverines were edged out by just
over a second.
Not only was the team without
Williams for The Dual, but they
could have used the help of senior
Andre Barnes in the 4x400-meter
relay, who was scratched from the
meet because of an ankle injury.
With a sixth-place finish in the
400-meter dash this past weekend,
Barnes posted his fastest time in
the event this season (47.82). Barnes
also contributed to the second-
place 4x100-meter relay team.
The 4x400-meter relay show-
cased the Wolverines' efforts in
the sprinting events. The team of
Barnes, Harmsen and sophomores
David St. Amant and Carl Bucha-

non crossed the line fourth against
a competitive field (3:09.36). Amant
anchored the relay and finished
with a 46.90 split for the last 400
meters, a performance that was
good enough to give Michigan
another regional qualifying mark.
"I took the first 300 and ran it,"
St. Amant said. "Then with the last
100, I went all out. The first three
guys put me in a great position."
In the field events, redshirt
junior Sean Pruitt continued to
rewrite the Michigan record books
in the hammer throw. His 199-foot-
5-inch throw catapulted him into
third place and set a new school
record.
A healthy Williams could help
secure Michigan's first Big Ten
victory of the outdoor season and
regain the pennant which is award-
ed to the winner of The Dual. Ohio
State took the top spots in the 1,500-
and 3,000-meter runs in January,
dominating the distance events.
"We certainly want to beat them
and they want to beat us," LaPlante
said. "That's what makes it fun."
PALUSHAJ
From page 1B
and strength are light-years ahead
of where they were at the end of last
season. He praised the AHL's devel-
opment of young players, suggesting
it serves as an accurate barometer for
how close players are to the NHL.
Palushaj's exceptional playmaking
ability makes him a constant threat
in the offensive zone. In 82 career
games at Michigan, Palushaj tallied
23 goals and 71 assists. Palushaj led
the Wolverines this season in scoring
with 50 points and was tied for third
in goals with 13. After a mid-semes-
ter lull this winter, Palushaj finished
the season with 10 points in his last
seven games.
"His No. 1 asset is his vision of
the ice and his stick-work skill," said
junior defenseman Chris Summers,
who was named next year's team
captain Sunday. "He's an unbeliev-

4

4

Junior Lex Williams won the 3,000-meter run, Michigan's lone win of the meet.

PURDUE
From page 1B
extra innings before junior
catcher Roya St. Clair broke the
stalemate with the game-win-
ning hit for the Wolverines in the
ninth.
Unranked thus far this season
and winless against the Wol-
verines in three seasons, the
Boilermakers' excitement was
evident in their performance as a
victory against the No. 10
team in the country seemed pos-
sible.
"In our case, we have to avoid
those kind of thought process-
es," Hutchins said. "Our thought
process is play the game because
the game doesn't know who's
supposed to win. The game only
knows there are three outs, three
strikes and that's how you play
the game.

"If you approach it like that
consistently, you have a better
chance."
Pitching was a major factor in
the close games.
In the opening contest, Michi-
gan came away with a 3-1 win
largely due to junior Nikki Nem-
itz's three-hit performance.
She stayed ahead in the count
consistently and gave up no
walks.
Meanwhile, Purdue's Suzie
Rzegocki, who pitched both games
for the Boilermakers, consistently
fell behind and surrendered nine
hits, walking five Wolverines en
route to a 3-1 loss.
The pitching performanc-
es flip-flopped in game two
when sophomore Jordan Tay-
lor started in the circle for the
Wolverines. Taylor let up three
runs and fell behind in the count
often.
Rzegocki regained an advan-

tage from the strip despite throw-
ing 89 pitches in the opening
loss.
Once Purdue tied it up at
three in the sixth, Nemitz went
in for Taylor and quickly ended
the inning with back-to-back
outs.
The game went into extra
innings, the fifth overtime game
for Michigan this season. The
Wolverines are 3-2 in those con-
tests.
Finally, in the ninth inning,
freshman outfielder Bree Evans
bunted to get on base before St.
Clair hit a solid ball to the out-
field, her fourth game-winning
hit of the season.
"I had been hitting her pretty
good all day," St. Clair said. "I
worked the count a little bit. Any-
thing she was going to bring near
the plate, I was going to take a
good cut at it, try to get it into the
gap and score that run."

able stick-handler. His puck deci-
sions are right on almost 100 percent
of the time."
Despite his abilities in the offen-
sive zone, Palushaj brings with him
some question marks. While he was
pleased with his progression under
the team's strength-and-condition-
ing program, he expressed some con-
cern over how he will handle skating
with older and bigger players.
Palushaj, listed as 5-feet-11, 175-
pounds on Peoria's website, is now
the lightest (and youngest) player on
a lineup that features skaters who
weigh has much as 50 pounds heavi-
er. He admitted he still needs more
time in the weight room to have a
legitimate shot at making St. Louis's
roster in training camp in Septem-
ber.
While Palushaj showed some
improvement on defense during
his two years at Michigan, Beren-
son didn't use him to kill penalties.
Should his offensive output struggle

as he becomes acclimated to minor-
league hockey, he will likely need to
prove himself defensivelyto make an
early impression on scouts.
Michigan's coaches are confident
they can develop a player's size,
strength and defense. And while
Palushaj remains grateful for the
time he spent under them, he found
the temptation of professional hock-
ey too great to pass up.
And it's a dream that at least one
teammate thinks players should
approach with a lotof perspective.
"I think (Berenson) says it best:
you're preparing for a life after hock-
ey," Summers said. "There's more to
the world than just skating on the ice
every day. It's a game. It should be
enjoyed.And I think that's what alot
of players miss out on, that it should
be fun.
"It's unfortunate that it turns into
a business once you get to the profes-
sional rankings, but that's the way it
is."

I

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