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April 06, 2010 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, A pril 6, 2010 - 7

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 7

Hutchins opens up, reflects
on season's success so far

Kittle fills void in
left field for Blue

By LUKE PASCH
Dahly Sports Writer
It's not an easy task to get Michi-
gan softball coach Carol Hutchins
to open up to the public: she's
incredibly protective of her play-
ers.
But for one hour on Monday
night at Ann
Arbor's Pizza NOTEBOOK
House, she and
a few of her All-American ath-
letes were featured on the "Michi-
gan Athletics Coaches' Show" on
WTKA 1050AM to give a behind-
the-scenes look at the team.
And for that hour, fans got to see
the animated side of "Hutch" that's
typically reserved for her players.
She laughed and occasionally
teased one of her players in the
audience.
She was enthused when she talk-
ed about the newest bleacher addi-
tions to Alumni Field.
And she even revealed the girls'
secret formula for success - listen-
ing to Lady Gaga in the clubhouse
before games.
Even she admitted that the 2009
breakout artist gets her worked up.
WHAT A SEASON: The sec-
ond-ranked Wolverines (3-0 Big
Ten, 26-5 overall) have impressed
everyone so far on the 2010 cam-
paign.
And as they head into their two-
month stretch of Big Ten play, they
are stronger than ever, having won
18 of their last 19 contests.
They've been beating other
ranked opponents and humiliating
unranked ones.
Those accomplishments beg the
questions - is this the best team
Hutchins has coached in her 26
years at the helm? Are they even
better than the 2005 NCAA Cham-
pionship team?
And although she didn't nec-
essarily make that claim, she did
draw comparisons.
"It really does remind me of 2005
when the bottom of our order - the

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The
started
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But 1

h All-American against Indiana-Purdue Fort
Wayne on March 27, and the
Larre out, senior Clarkston native responded with
a 2-for-4 performance. Since then,
tility man has he has started six straight games.
And the senior has done noth-
irprised many ing to warrant a demotion out
of his left field spot. His average
By BEN ESTES now sits at .341, to go along with
Daily Sports Writer 11 RBI (as many as the starting
third baseman, sophomore John
the moment junior cen- Lorenz) and just two errors (one
er Ryan LaMarre broke his fewer than the starting rightfield-
back on Feb. 20, the ques- er, redshirt senior Nick Urban).
ark that has plagued the "We're getting some produc-
an baseball team's offense tion out of left field," Maloney said
ilaced the preseason All- after Sunday's game at Indiana.
an's production in the "Early in the year, we had none.
So now Kittle ... (has) stepped it
until recently, it's a ques- up and that's really encouraging."
e team couldn't seem to Kittle has delivered in the
A host of candidates clutch, as well. In nearly identical
d to take the left field spot situations, with Michigan holding
reshman Patrick Biondi a tenuous one-run lead late in the
to center. The potential game, he delivered a critical RBI
ments included redshirt single to score an insurance run
iore Garrett Stephens, first against Eastern Michigan
t freshman Kevin Krantz, last Tuesday and then one more
an Cam Luther and red- time in Saturday's game against
eshman Tyler Mills. the Hoosiers.
due to lack of production And yet the soft-spoken senior
rantz's case, a fractured didn't have much to say about
no player seized the spot either hit, commenting only how
ield remained an offensive they were necessary for the team.
ole. "(It's) just (important) to help
re going to keep trying to out the team," Kittle said after the
nebody in there that can Eastern game. "I knew we needed
e, and if somebody pro- the base hit there, so I did what I
they'll play more, and if could."
n't, they won't," Michigan The Wolverines knew that they
Rich Maloney said after wouldn't be able to fully replace
rch 3 game against Florida LaMarre's production - that's
oast. "We're waiting - for what makes the junior so valuable
dy to step up ... waiting for and importantto their offense.
dy to take hold of that job Maloney recognized that there
aMarre) gets back. Hope- were big shoes to fill and didn't
mebody will." expect a player tostep in and start
r senior utility man Mike mashing the ball. Michigan just
needed somebody to come in and
veteran had previously produce consistently, holding the
just six games in his career fort down until his star's return.
olverine, all in 2009. His And with LaMarre now expected
average coming into this back in the lineup sometime this
was a mediocre .205, with week, it's been Mike Kittle who
y four RBI to his name. finally emerged from the bench to
Maloney gave Kittle a shot do just that.

Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins has led the Wolverines toone national championship in her 26 years in Ann Arbor.

eight and nine hitters - are so pro-
ductive," Hutchins said. "They've
done such a great job. When you
got somebody that's as potent as
Nikki Nemitz hitting in the seven-
hole, the pitchers just don't get a
break when they face us."
But praising her formidable
lineup doesn't mean the coach has
thrown modesty out the window.
When asked if she thinks the
team would top off this week's
NCAA rankings after No. 1 Wash-
ington's loss to No. 5 UCLA last
weekend, Hutchins bluntly denied
it.
THE HOUSE THAT WILPON
BUILT: The Michigan softball team
plays in one of the plushest college
facilities in the nation.
Alumni Field, part of the Wilpon
Softball and Baseball Complex, has
experienced renovations over the
last few years with the $4 million it

funding provided by the Judy and
Fred Wilpon Family Foundation.
But some of the upgrades took
some getting used to. At the close
of the 2009 season, renovators
went to work on constructing the
new right field bleachers, which
effectively stripped the grassy
knoll seating that players' families
had grown to love.
"I used to sit out in right field
on lawn chairs and get there three
hours early to get my spot, so I was
a little sad to see that go," Nemitz
said. "Now that I saw what they
did, I'm not sad at all. I love it."
A TEAM VACATION: For
Hutchins, few things are more
important than team chemistry.
And to foster that chemistry, she
took her team on a springbreak trip
to Fort Benning, Ga., where she and
the players had an opportunity to
talk to Army officials and explore

the National Infantry Museum.
They even got to ride in a tank and
take some shots at a firing range.
And this trip was particularly
meaningful for Hutchins, whoes
nephew is currently in Afghani-
stan.
"I just thought that the whole
thing was very educational,"
Hutchins said. "They say these
guys spend up to 14 hours at a time
in the tanks. The temperature gets
up to 140 degrees when you're in a
desert.
"So it's good for our kids to see
what the rest of the world is doing."
In Hutchins's mind, this type of
experience was the perfect oppor-
tunity to instill a sense of team
unity in her players.
And time will tell if it pays off,
as the team heads down the sea-
son's home-stretch in the ensuing
weeks.

A Friend Dies. Who Cares?

Toxic drinking is an epidemic on
campuses all across America.
It means consuming so much alcohol
the drinker passes out. But while "sleeping
it off," the victim may be quietly dying.
When you come right down to it, students
themselves are the best ones to tackle
this problem. So, in growing numbers,
Stony Brook students have joined together
in the Red Watch Band movement.
Working with experts, they fine-tuned a
course in techniques to handle these
alcohol emergencies. Red Watch Band
members can act fast, when every second
counts.They know the quick steps they
can take to rescue a passed-out student
from a drinking death, and can immediately
summon professional help. Everyone
completing the course is given the
distinctive red watch for identification.
Since its inception at Stony Brook
University in March 2009, approximately
40 schools across the country have signed
on to implement this lifesaving program.
To prevent toxic drinking deaths, go to
redwatchband.org

ST@NY
BRONW)K
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

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