6 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
April 5, 2010 - 3B
Robertson returns to
lift Blue over Hoosiers
'M' rallies to beat Badgers
By MATT RUDNITSKY
Daily Sports Writer
all of Michigan's players won their
That left the match knotted at 1-1
"I played him freshman year and
he did the same stuff, so I kind of
By JAMES BLUM
Daily Sports Writer
The largest regular-season
crowd in program history packed
into Canham Natatorium Saturday
afternoon to witness the first-ever
televised Michigan water polo
The match INDIANA 4
was everything MICHIGAN 6
for the Wolver-
ines, a televised battle against bit-
ter rival No. 15 Indiana. It was an
opportunity to clinch their third
consecutive CWPA Western regu-
lar-season title and also claim the
top seed in the upcoming Western
Division Championship. All was
accomplished in a 6-4 victory over
The game also marked the return
of injured senior captain Leah Rob-
ertson, whose presence was felt
immediately. Robertson made an
early statement offensively and
showed the defensive ability that
Michigan has been lacking, tallying
a Canham Natatorium-record eight
steals. Robertson had no idea of her
"I really was just focused on hav-
ing a big rivalry game at home,"
Robertson said. "It's our only Big
Ten competition, so getting a win at
home is really important."
Robertson kicked off the scor-
ing with a back-handed rocket that
slipped by Indiana sophomore goal-
ie Cassie Wyckoff. Robertson's goal
gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead after
the first stanza. The first possession
* of the second period marked the
Hoosiers' first shot of the game and
As the low-scoring battle con-
tinued, the physicality escalated.
Anger and aggression were evi-
dent in the pool as players violently
fought for position.
"We play them three or four
times a year," Junior Lauren Orth
Michigan men's tennis coach with five courts still playing, all in know what he is about." Jung said.
Bruce Berque couldn't recall a time decisive third sets. "It's hard to play a guy like that
in all of his years of coaching when Despite saving ' three match when he's doing all of that stuff, but
a college tennis team lost the first points to take the second set, Sroc- I've had experience with it before,
set in all six singles matches and zynski fell to Wisconsin's Patrick which definitely helped me get
won the match. Pohlmann, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2. And through the match."
Well, there really is a first time in another hard-fought battle, Cha After Jung's match, Madden
for everything. was outlasted at No. 6. broke serve in the final game of his
On Sunday afternoon at the Var- But the Wolverines fought back, third set to clinch the Wolverines'
sity Tennis Center, the 26th-ranked starting with a huge win from victory, pulling through against
Wolverines (5-0 Big Ten, 9-7 over- Navas. Wisconsin freshman Billy Bertha.
all) did just that, outlasting No. 30 The match then came down to It was the fourth time that Madden
Wisconsin, 4-3, in a fiercely con- junior Jason Jung at No. 1 singles has clinched the match for Michi-
tested match. and Madden at No. 4. gan this year.
Michigan got off to a solid start, Jung - the 41st-ranked singles With the victory, Michigan
taking the doubles point forthe13th player in the nation - was pitted stayed undefeated in conference
time in 16 matches with wins by the againstNo. 21junior Marek Michal- play, and continues to sit atop the
No. 33 tandem of seniors George icka of the Badgers, who came into Big Ten standings.
Navas and Mike Sroczynski at the the match with an unblemished But the win against Wisconsin
No. 2 spot, and freshman Chris Cha 14-0 dual-match record. wasn't the only action for Michi-
and junior Chris Madden at No.3. After dropping the first set, Jung gan this weekend. In another tough
After a first-set massacre by the took control, taking the second, and conference match, the Wolverines
Badgers, the match seemed hope- going up a break at 4-2 in the third defeated No. 48 Northwestern
less for the Wolverines. But then set. But Michalicka reached deep 5-2 on Saturday afternoon. It was
something clicked, and an unprec- into his bag of tricks to try and stall Michigan's ninth-straight triumph
edented comeback began. Jung's momentum. over the Wildcats.
"I don't know if this was neces- Michalickha called for an injury This weekend's sweep concluded
sarily a conscious choice or not," timeout, attempted to take an ille- a six-match homestand for the Wol-
Berque said. "But when you look gal bathroom break, refused to play verines, who will be on the road for
up at the scoreboard and it looks for 10 minutes due to a rule dispute, four of their five remaining matches.
as bleak as it did, competitors have and then tried for an illegal second "I think these wins are really
a choice to give in emotionally and injury timeout, which caused a going to help us," Jung said. "I think
cave in, or step it up a notch. point penalty and finally ended his it doesn't matter if we're home
And I think that was the differ- strange antics. or away now that we are 5-0 and
ence on just about every court. Our Despite all of the commotion, have a lot of confidence behind us.
guys elevated their games, compet- Jung somehow managed to stay I think that we're playing well and
ed a little harder, played a little more focused, winning the match, 3-6, hopefully can getthat Big Ten title."
aggressively and played like ateam."
Other than freshman Evan
King - who was defeated in
straight sets at second singles -
Senior Leah Robertson set a home record with eight steals against Indiana.
said. "But every time we play them,
no matter how either of us is doing,
we're going to come out for each
other's throats. You never want
to lose to your rival, especially at
home. So I guess you do what you
have to under the water."
The coaches could be seen and
heard condemning players' actions
as well as referees' calls. Indiana
coach Barry King was penalized
with a yellow card for continued
harassment of the referees.
The yellow card was handed out
on a fourth-period penalty. The dis-
puted call gave Michigan an insur-
mountable three-score lead. Orth
and the- five-meter penalty shot
seemed to be the only aspect of the
R Read a story about Leah Robert-
son at MichiganDaily.com
Michigan offense in sync against
"We had the right opportunities
on offense," Anderson said. "They
just were not thinking. There were
so many times when we ran the
right play and something happened
and that unfortunately can become
a team thing.... There were four or
five 6-on-5's that I thought we ran
to perfection but we just didn't have
the ball in the right place. But the
benefit is that they stayed focus on
defense and that's what it comes
'fifth rotation guys do great.' Thursday, April 15. Being the runner-
BIG TENS "Maybe that's asking for too up last year, Michigan will look to
From Page 1 B much, but I want our guys to bringhome anational championship.
approach (the fifth rotation) as "We need to make sure that
a challenge that they can defeat, we're rested and that we're men-
rotation our strongest rotation," because they can." tally strong," redshirt senior Ryan
Cameron said. "I want the whole of The Wolverines will travel to West McCarthy said. "We need to go in
Ann Arbor to see a gymnast walk- Point, N.Y. for the NCAA Champi- and get four solid hit sets on every
ing around and just yell at them onships in two weeks starting on event."
Wolverines' schedule of seven Up next for the Wolverines are
WILDCATS straight on the road. The impor- back-to-back home games against
From Page 1B tance of being able to go through Penn State and Ohio State this
the stretch unscathed is not lost coming weekend. With a new high
on Bernstein. ranking awaiting the squad, the
esting in taking the No. 3 singles, "We prepare very hard at focus remains on the present.
and that would be the last point home," Bernstein said. "We feel "We're not taking anybody for
the Wolverines lost. No. 2 junior like we're in shape and we've granted," Bernstein said, "Each
Whitney Taney, No. 4 Nguyen, worked hard, so it's just trust- and every day, we need to come
and No. 5 Mahtani all followed ing ourselves, whether we're at out and be prepared mentally
with straight set wins. Sophomore home or on the road. Obviously because if we don't do that we're
Michelle Sulahian provided the it's nice to play in front of your going to be in trouble. We have
icing on the cake at No. 6 singles, home crowd, but the girls believe a very mature group that real-
winning 10-4 in a third-set tie- in themselves even when they're izes the position we're in, so we're
breaker. The weekend ended the on the road." going to be ready for every game."
Speierman provides third option
for Wolverines on the mound
By LUKE PASCH
Daily Sports Writer
A quick glance at the Michigan
softball team's personell imme-
diately tells you something about
coach Carol Hutchins.
She has tremendous faith in her
pitchers - she must if she only car-
ries three of them on her roster.
The second-ranked Wolverines
(3-0 Big Ten, 26-5 overall) are one
of six ranked NCAA teams with just
three hurlers. Most teams have two
starters, along with at least two or
three arms available in the bullpen.
Critics often wonder - what
happens if one of those starters
has a rough outing, and there's not
enough relief? But Hutchins has
never been particularly concerned
about that. It's a question that she
and her players shrug off.
"That's fine," senior third base-
man Maggie Viefhaus said. "If one
of them doesn't do well, we have
two other pitchers that will come
out and beat you anyway. It doesn't
matter who's on the mound. We're
going to beat you."
All-Americans Nikki Nemitz and
Jordan Taylor have pitched for 200
of the team's 211 innings this sea-
But who is the third pitcher of
whom fans hear, but see so little?
Who is the one that is bound to step
in for Nemitz next season?
Her name is Stephanie Speier-
man, a freshman righty who spent
the last four seasons shattering
high school records in Maryland.
She set eight different marks,
including career strikeouts (1,363),
single-season strikeouts (426),
single-season wins (23) and single-
season ERA (0.00).
Moreover, she could poten-
tially fill Nemitz's role as a hitting
pitcher, as she batted a career .462
over her four years at Hammond
"Well, I'm not opposed to (put-
ting her in the lineup)," Hutchins
said. "Anytime you got a player that
can pitch and hit, my philosophy is
the best nine hitters are in the line-
up. So, if she's one of them, then she
So far, it's difficult to tell wheth-
er or not Speierman's high school
dominance will convert to the
NCAA level as it did for Nemitz and
junior Jordan Taylor. Through her
first seven appearances, in which
she's pitched 11 innings, she's given
up five earned runs and two hom-
One may chalk up those num-
bers to inexperience or a lack of
routine starts, but her stats are
comparatively weak when look-
ing at Nemitz and Taylor's rookie
year numbers - they finished with
ERAs of 1.88 and 0.76, respectively.
But after this weekend, Speier-
man put some of those concerns to
From Page lB
Sunday afternoon's game fin-
ished in similar fashion, but the
Wolverines spread out their scoring
this time, crossing the plate at least
once in every inning.
Senior lefty Nikki Nemitz took
the mound and threw five innings
of one-hit ball to earn her 11th
win. Nemitz has been hot lately
after starting the season 1-3 -
she's now won each of her last
Hutchins and her players like to
compare their day-to-day attitude
to the mantra that's governed com-
petition for the Connecticut wom-
en's basketball team. Focus on one
game at a time.
"The kids really like UConn bas-
ketball. They've been following it,"
Hutchins said. "One thing we know
about UConn is that they're very
intense, they practice really hard
and they go after every game the
"It doesn't matter who they're
playing. I like that mentality, and I
think it's Michigan softball mental-