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February 22, 2010 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-02-22

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2B - February 22, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

2B - February 22, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Taylor's no-hitter lifts
'M' to tournament win

An escape from
Olympic boredom

In five games over
three days, Blue
shows resiliency
with 4-I record
Daily Sports Writer
No-hitter? No problem.
Junior pitcher Jordan Taylor
threw a gem for the Wolverines
this past weekend, improving to
5-0 and logging her first com-
plete game no-hitter of the sea-
son in a 7-0 win over Oklahoma
State on Friday.
With solid pitching, smart
defense and an explosive offense,
the No. 4 Michigan softball team
(6-2) showcased its complete
arsenal this past weekend, win-
ning four out of five games at the
Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge,
La. The three-day tournament
culminated with an 8-1 win over
Oklahoma State in the champion-
ship game on Sunday.
"We're all about playing
Michigan softball, staying in the
moment, making your pitches
work," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "We don't get
caught up in who we're playing,
we worry about playing good
In the championship game,
Oklahoma State got on the board
first in the second inning but the
Wolverines didn't panic. They
resorted to their strengths -
offense and pitching - to cruise
to victory.
Taylor stayed calm and pitched
six strong innings, allowing one
earned run while striking out
"Jordan's a great pitcher,"
Hutchins said. "I'm most pleased
with the consistency she's shown,
not just in her performance but
in her pitch-to-pitch approach.
Right now, she's pitching well,
she's very focused and she's play-
ing one-pitch softball, and that's

I don't know about most of you
out there, but, for me, there's always
been something lacking in the Win-
ter Olympics.
Don't get me wrong, I've still
been watching as much as I can in
between cram-
ming for my
last midterms.
Any time Shaun
White does hiss
thing, t can't
help but day- t
dream about
how much better
my life would be ANDY
if I were him. REID
But, whenI
compare these
to the summer games - especially
2008's drama-filled event in Beijing
- I have been really struggling to
get into it.
Maybe my eye is just too
untrained to see the differences
and little quirks, but there's only so
many times I can watch a person
ski down a hill or skate on a sheet of
ice before it all starts to look exactly
the same.
And it's not like I don't "get" it.I
grew up in Michigan, and I've been
snowboarding since I could strap
on a board. Only now, after watch-
ing so many people race the same
course over and over, do I appreci-
ate what my mom did for me back
then, sitting ina ski lodge and pre-
tending not to be bored to tears as
I waved to her from the bottom of
the hill.
Part of the problem stems from
NBC's coverage of the games. The
diversity and variety of events cho-
sen for broadcast and the amount
of airtime for live events haven't
been great. I think they did a bet-
ter job two years ago, but that's for
another column altogether.
Long story short, I was about to
give up on Vancouver 2010.
Then, one day after class last
week, I found my personal Winter
Games savior.
I got home and plopped down on
the couch. One of my housemates
had absentmindedly turned on NBC
or one of its affiliates while he was

surfing the Internet.
It just happened to be curl-
ing, and I've just happened tobe
enthralled ever since.
I wish I could tell you more
about why I find the sport so damn
intriguing. It's slow-moving, highly
mental and it appears as if the phys-
ical qualifications for athletes range
from Extreme Couch Potato to Pro
Bowling Association member.
Not to mention that I could prob-
ably watch an entire season of The
Wire in the time it takes for them to
play one game - or is it a match? Or
a set? I don't know. Whatever, you
get the point.
ButI can't look away. The USA
women's 6-5 win over Great Britain
- which ended in the 11th after the
English screwed up on a very make-
able toss (at least, I think that's what
happened) - was probably the most
exciting thing for me during the
Olympics so far. It was incredible.
I'm starting to pick up on the
rules. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but
the winner of each round is the one
with a stone closest to the middle.
Then, the winning team gets one
point for each stone they have
closer to the middle than the other
team's closest stone. Whew. Con-
fused? Yeah, me too, a little.
But that's part of the fun. That's
what I've been looking for. The
Summer Games offer a myriad of
sports that seem exotic and fun
- handball, water polo, fencing.
The best part of watching them is
learning how they're played as you
watch. You get invested, and even
if America's not in it anymore, you
still care.
What's there to figure out about
most Winter games? You go down-
hill. Maybe do a flip. Maybe, on very
rare occasions, shoot a gun. But
curling offers that same kind of fun.
And, America or no America, I'll
be glued to my TV next Saturday for
the gold medal game. And by then,
I'll at least know what's going on.
If they sold curling jerseys, Reid
would buy a Calgary WC Cheryl
Bernard one. He can be reached
at andy.a.reid@gmail.com

Junior Jordan Taylor threw a no-hitter against Oklahoma State on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

her key to success."
Saturday was a quiet day for
the Wolverines' bats. Though
Michigan beat No. 19 Louisiana
State 2-0, the Wolverines fell 2-1
to unranked Virginia. Hutchins
stressed the fact that the Wolver-
ines must be firing on all cylin-
ders to perform at their best.
'If pitchers do their part, the
hitters have their part to do,"
Hutchins said. "Yesterday's game
against Virginia, it's quite obvi-
ous that our hitting didn't do
their part. Our defense didn't
play as well as it could, and our
hitting did not do its part. But
when we all do our part, you'll
see good things occur, such as
W's. W's are good."
On Sunday, the Wolverines
got a much-needed spark from
their offense. Michigan scored
in every inning from the third on
and scored three runs in both the

fourth and fifth innings.
Sophomore left fielder Bree
Evans highlighted the Wolver-
ines' scoring attack as she walked
once, scored and drove home two
on an RBI single. Her clutch play
from the leadoff position helped
seal the Wolverines' win.
"I just felt a lot more relaxed
this weekend," Evans said. "I
tried to not to have anything
affect me. It helped that I didn't
let my last setback affect my next
at bat. All I'm trying to accom-
plish is getting on base, because
if I get on base then I know my
team can make something hap-
pen and get the first run across."
In addition to boosting their
confidence with early season
tournaments, playing five games
in three days is a good endurance
test for the Wolverines.
"It's a grind," Hutchins said.
"By game five, we looked tired.

When we get into the confer-
ence season, we'll only have to
play two games in a weekend, so
it will seem like a piece of cake.
But each pitch in every game we
play is so intense. You evolve as
the season goes on, but these five
game weekends, they're tough."
With two early-season tour-
naments out of the way, includ-
ing a win at the Tiger Classic,
Michigan heads to into the rest
of its season with an agenda: to
surpass last season's Women's
College World Series appearance
with an NCAA National Champi-
"I think that fans should be
excited because our team is on a
mission," Evans said. "We want
to win it this year and we know
that we're capable of winning it.
We're going to do anything we
can to win the national champi-
onship this year."

ue dominates
in early-season
CWPA action
By JAMES BLUM seven-score lead was too large to
Daily Sports Writer overcome. Robertson accounted
for 10 of the Wolverines' 27 open-
The Michigan water polo team ing-day goals.
stood strong this weekend at the "That was Leah being Leah."
Princeton Invitational behind the Anderson said. "Leah is as good
California-bred talent of senior as any player in the nation. When
captain Leah Robertson. The she is on, she is very fun and
two-day East Coast invitational exciting to watch."
was a break from Michigan's The Wolverines followed
tough non-conference schedule, up their impressive opening-
which included wins over several day showing by crushing two
West Coast powers, including unranked opponents on the
two seventh-ranked schools, San second day of the tournament.
Jose State and San Diego State, Michigan defeated then-unbeat-
and No. 3 Hawaii. en Harvard, 13-3, and Wagner,
Robertson and junior Lauren 12-5.
Orth carried the fifth-ranked Sunday's showing was built on
Wolverines (9-3) past their two strong defense, led by freshman
toughest opponents of the invi- goalie Alex Adamson. Adamson
tational. The Wolverines handed has won her first two collegiate
No. 20 Princeton (3-1) its first games, putting up an impressive
loss of the season 13-10, with four 17 saves and allowing just eight
goals each from Robertson and goals over two games. With red-
Orth. The Wolverines followed shirt senior Brittany May side-
that up with a 14-11 win over rival lined because of injury, Adamson
No. 12 Hartwick. was called on to head the Michi-
"We have a team goal that gan defense and was brilliant in
we're never going to get beaten in net.
the East," Orth said. "We wanted to work on our
Orth's impressive perfor- offensive explosion." Anderson
mance, including a career-high said. "Sunday, we wanted to put
six steals against Princeton, has more emphasis on our defensive
helped keep that goal alive early end. The one thing that could
in the season, but as Michigan derail us is if we do not fine-tune
coach Matt Anderson knows, a our defensive effort when we
season can turn around quickly. play (Princeton and Hartwick)
"As of Feb. 21 we are feeling again. We know we can score on
good," Anderson said. "But as them now, we have to frustrate
in any sport, the next game can them more on the defensive end."
make you feel not so good." The tournament sweep marked
The Wolverines also looked a strong start to the Wolverines'
good against Hartwick (12-3). CWPA conference play as they
Although the Hawks looked look to three-peat as CWPA East-
strong early, they were unable to ern Conference Champions and
hold up against a strong Michi- prove they are contenders in the
gan offense. NCAA Tournament.
In the second stanza, with "We were tied at No. 1 with
the game tied at two, Robert- Hartwick (in conference stand-
son attacked. The team captain ings) coming in, and we proved
exploded for five goals in the we were capable of beating them."
period and finished the game Robertson said. "We think we are
with a career-high six scores., No.1 in our conference but it's not
The Hawks made it- close late final so we have a lot of work to
against the Michigan bench, do. It shows the rest of the water
outscoring the Wolverines 5-1 in polo world we are a powerhouse
the final period, but Michigan's and a team to be reckoned with."

Junior Botterman leads Wolverines to
climactic late upset of fifth-ranked Utes "

Daily Sports Writer
Michigan coach Bev Plocki
watched her final gymnast dash
across the floor and land with ease
in the corner of the mat. Plocki
looked down, smiled and gave a
confident fist-pump.
Plocki had just seen junior Kylee
Botterman end the evening with
a season-high 9.950 score on her
floor routine, effectively complet-
ing the Michigan women's gym-
nastics team's surprise victory
over No. 5 Utah at Crisler Arena.
The 16th-ranked Wolverines
battled back from earlier mishaps
on the uneven bars and the bal-
ance beam to top the Utes in the
final rotation, winning by a score
of 195.725-195.100.
It was an evening that ended in
climactic fashion with a floor per-
formance that had the crowd on its
"I was just thrilled," Plocki
said. "We feel like we're a very
good floor team ... and we hit the
routines so we got good scores. I

knew that when Kylee hit that last
tumbling pass we had secured the
As Michigan (3-0 Big Ten, 9-1
overall) headed to its final event -
the floor routine - it was trailing by
three tenths of a point, and it took
three near-perfect runs to over-
come the deficit.
The final athletes, senior Sarah
Curtis, freshman Natalie Beilstein
and Botterman, posted scores of
9.900, 9.875 and 9.950 respectively.
Although the balance beam has
been the biggest weakness this sea-
son, the major scares against Utah
(5-2) were on the uneven bars,
where two Wolverines and a Ute
all fell.
"Our struggles have been on
beam," Plocki said. "So to come
off of an event where we had
an uncharacteristic fall, and go
straight to beam, the pressure was
definitely on."
The team took the challenge and
posted good scores on the beam,
with senior captain Kelsey Knut-
son taking her fourth beam title
of the year by tying a season-high

score of 9.875.
But it was the strong start on
vault and a better finish on the
floor that propelled Michigan to
the upset.
"We needed to put together four
good events to come away with
a win," Plocki said. "This wasn't
Utah's best night, but we also
counted a fall on the bars. It was
very big for us to start off strong
on vaulting, and that kind of set the
tone for the meet."
Botterman and Curtis were sta-
bilizers throughout the evening,
offering very consistent perfor-
mances to take the top two spots in
the all-around. Both athletes took
one event title each and tied for
first place on the uneven bars.
Ultimately, Bottermanedgedout
her teammate by just one tenth of a
point with a 39.475 performance.
"(Sarah) and Kylee both, I put
them in the same category," Plocki
said. "They have been perform-
ing well all season, and they both
had great nights tonight in the all-
With her dual meet-clinching

floor routine, Botterman matched
her career high on that event, tak-
ing her fifth all-around title in
seven meets this year.
"I'm always excited to perform
floor," Botterman said. "I don't
usually get nervous, and I defi-
nitely wasn't nervous. It's always
fun when I know I'm going to hit
my routine, I have that confidence,
and I can help my team to a win."
Regardless of any early slip-ups,
when it came down to crunch time,
the team pulled it together.
Before the first performer took
her place on the floor routine, the
team gathered on the mat. After a
few words from coaches, the ath-
letes huddled alone and prepared
for the final rotation.
Botterman added some insight
into the last-minute huddle.
"We always .say, 'For the
strength of the pack is the wolf,
and the strength of the wolf is the
pack. Let's Go Blue,"' she said.
As a team, the Wolverines need-
ed all they could get from every
member of the pack to pull off an
upset, and they got it.

Michigan finishes third at Big Ten Championships

Daily Sports Writer
day of pivotal rematches for the No.
16 Michigan women's swimming
and diving team on the final day of
competition at the Big Ten Champi-
Both fifth-year senior Emily
Brunemann and senior Margaret
Kelly looked to avenge second-place
finishes in the 1,650- and 100-yard
freestyle at the Boilermaker Aquat-
ic Center, respectively.
Brunemann started the
66-length race strong, leading the
field of competition through the
first 200 yards. Competing side-
by-side, Brunemann went stroke
for stroke with Minnesota's Ashley
But much like their previous
meeting, Steenvorden took over
the race. At 500 yards, she gained
a slight edge she didn't relinquish.
The final 100 yards proved to be a
race for second, one Brunemann

would eventually lose as the fifth-
year senior touched the wall third,
nearly four seconds behind Steen-
"Not defending my tile was really
hard," an emotional Brunemann
said. "That's my event and that's my
favorite event. But that's something
that I chose, I chose not to taper for
(Big Tens) and I chose to taper for
NCAAs. But it doesn't make it any
The performance was a micro-
cosm of the meet as a whole; the
Wolverines placed third (462.5)
behind No. 10 Minnesota (572.5)
and Big Ten champion No. 14 Indi-
ana (758).
"We knew that on the psych
sheet, coming in that first or sec-
ond were really not realistic for us,"
Michigan coach Jim Richardson
said. "We knew we'd be in a tight
fight with Purdue and Ohio State
and maybe Wisconsin. I'm really
proud of this team, they really
stepped up."
Just days earlier, the Wolverines

had an opportunity to overtake
Indiana, the defending Big Ten
The team was trailing 276-252.5
heading into the finals of the 100-
yard butterfly. Kelly posted the
fastest preliminary time and was
considered by many to be the favor-
ite in the event. The Ann Arbor
native posted a fast pace to begin
the race but then faded in the wan-
ing moments to finish in a close sec-
ond by six hundredths of a second.
Indiana's Donna Smailis touched
the wall first in the event giving the
Hoosiers an edge over Michigan
that they never relinquished. A vic-
tory by Kelly would have given the
team a slight 306.5-304 advantage
over the Big Ten favorites.
It wouldn't be the last time that
Kelly would square off against
Smailis with an individual Big Ten
title on the line.
The 100-yard freestyle provided
more of the same drama. In an event
that she's doesn't typically swim,
Michigan's all-everything swim-

mer held her own. Standing in fifth
place after the first 50 yards, the
senior quickly made up ground, but
would have to settle for third place.
But all was not lost for the Wol-
verines, if anything they may have
found an heir to Kelly's throne as
Michigan superstar swimmer.
In her first Big Ten meet, fresh-
man Mattie Kukors put on one heck
of a show. In her first final of the
meet, Kukors touched the wall fifth,
but she didn't stopthere. The new-
comer also registered fourth-place
honors in the 400-yard individual
medley and earned a victory in the
consolation B final of the 200-yard
Knowing that Richardson still
has depth, despite the third-place
finish, puts the team at ease with
the season winding down.
"This team is amazing this year,"
Brunemann said. "In the five years
that I've been here, this is the clos-
est and best team I've been on. And
that's why. I think so many people
are so emotional."

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