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March 31, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-31

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8A - Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8A - Thursday, March 31, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Mental lapses doom Blue

SOFTBALL
Lane's game-winning homer
completes comeback for 'M'

By NEAL ROTHSCHILD
Daily Sports Writer
YPSILANTI, Mich. - Some-
times this season, it's been the
bats for the Michigan baseball
team. Other times, it's been the
pitching. MICHIGAN 2
Defense has EASTERN 8
been the
culprit on other occasions. This
time, brains were the problem.
Frequent mental lapses and a
lack of focus hurt the Wolverines
(6-16 overall) Wednesday night,
resulting in a loss to Eastern
Michigan, 8-2.
First, there was junior third
baseman John Lorenz not run-
ning after a single that bounced
off his glove, letting a man on
second come around to score.
Then, there was redshirt junior
Garrett Stephens whiffing on a
throw from junior catcher Coley
Crank when Crank had a chance
to pick off an Eagle baserunner
who had strayed too far off first
after a pitch in the dirt. Then,
there were the wild pitches, the
eight walks and the inability to
work out of hitting slumps.
"When you're in a slump, it's
mental," Michigan coach Rich
Maloney said. "They're truly not
that bad of hitters. It's in their
psyche. It's too bad that it's got-
ten to that point with so many
guys."
The game started off promis-
ing enough for the Wolverines. In
the second inning, Michigan took
advantage of an error by Eagles
starter Brian Valente on a sacri-
fice bunt to set up sophomore Pat
Biondi's two-run, two-out single.
And through three innings, red-
shirt freshman starter Logan
McAnallen was cruising.
The latter two-thirds of the
game weren't as promising. In
the fourth inning, Eastern Mich-
igan (16-9) rallied for three runs
highlighted by right fielder Ken
R~tk Pn' RT R..,,5,t.,,.which.

MARISSA MCCLAIN/Daily
Junior Coley Crank's errant pickoff attempt was onet many miscues last night.

almost cleared the wall for a
three-run homer.
Down only one run, Michigan
had an opportunity to bounce
right back when Biondi led off
the fifth. He cracked the 1-2
pitch to deep right, but Battiston
caught it against the wall almost
at the flag pole.
"To be honest, I thought it was
gone," Biondi said. "The wind's
blowing in today. Maybe that
held it in, but we were all sur-
prised it didn't get out."
After that, it was all Eagles.
They tacked on another run in
the fifth inning and got two more
in the sixth, which saw the Wol-
verines allow three hits, two
runs, a wild pitch and the error by
Stephens to open the flood gates.
After getting two more in the
eighth, with the help of Lorenz's
mental lapse, Eastern Michigan
was on its way to an easy win.
"We didn't play very well and
it's very disappointing," Maloney
said. "It was very disheartening.
Guys just got to make plays."

game allowed the Wolverines to
throw five different arms, but
none of them impressed Maloney.
Only one - fifth-year senior Matt
Gerbe - finished the day without
surrendering a run.
Maloney knows the key to
turning things around will be
getting things straight psycho-
logically.
"It's definitely a mental thing,"
he said. "How you get out of that,
is through hard work and passion
and energy. It's the only way I
know how to get out of it. You've
got to stay positive. You have to
do the best job you can and stay
the course. That's all you can do."
With the conference season
starting on Friday against Indi-
ana, Michigan will need to for-
get about this game as soon as
possible to make sure it has the
confidence it needs to face the
Hoosiers.
"We're 0-0 going into the Indi-
ana series and if people aren't
upbeat, it's a problem," Biondi
said. "We-have a chance to start

By MATT RUDNITSKY
Daily Sports Writer
Down 2-1 through four and
a half innings to lowly Bowling
Green, the No. 3 Michigan soft-
ball team looked ripe for an upset.
But BOWLING GREEN 2
a tow- MICHIGAN 4
ering
two-run homerun by sophomore
second baseman Ashley Lane
in the bottom of the fifth gave
Michigan a 3-2 lead, and the Wol-
verines never looked back.
Michigan (2-0 Big Ten, 32-2
overall) added another run to
take the game 4-2, with sopho-
more hurler Stephanie Speier-
man (15-0) earning the win.
Speierman went six strong,
giving up two runs (one earned)
on just three hits, despite walk-
ing six batters. Senior pitcher
Jordan Taylor closed out the
game for her sixth save of the
season.
But even though Michigan
pulled it out in the end, the team
looked lackadaisical at the start.
"I actually wasn't impressed
with our team today," coach
Carol Hutchins said. "I thought
our energy was not where I
would like it to be for a home
game. Sometimes that can be
a combination of nerves from
being at home - sometimes play-
ing at home is hard - the distrac-
tion of it all, the excitement of it
all.
"I told them after the game I
didn't think they had their best
energy, but we got away with it.
And I'm pleased to see us come
back, so in that respect, I'm glad
to see it be a good game."
Bowling Green took advantage
of Michigan's lack of energy in
the top of the third, when short-

shot into the right-field bleachers
to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
Then in the bottom of the
frame, Bowling Green (4-13
overall) elected to intentionally
walk senior first baseman Dorian
Shaw (.422 batting average, 11
homeruns), bringing junior third
baseman Amanda Chidester to
the plate.
"That's been happening
all year, and there have been
times where I haven't been able
to come through with -a hit,"
Chidester said. "ButI get excited
for it because I want to be able to
help the team out, so I like that
opportunity."
Chidester made Falcons pitch-
er Zada Lines pay for walking
Shaw, smacking an RBI single to
right field with two runners in
scoring position. But freshman
leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield
was gunned out at home, allow-
ing Lines to escape with the
score knotted at one.
And in the top of the fourth,
Bowling Green recaptured the
lead with some small ball.
The Falcons started off the
inning with a bloop single to
shallow left field and followed
it up with a sacrifice bunt - a
strategy they used all game long.
Chidester couldn't field the bunt,
allowing the batter to reach first,
putting runners on first and sec-
ond with nobody out.
A double steal put two Bowl-
ing Green runners in scoring
position, and a walk by Spei-
erman loaded the bases soon
after. Another base on balls then
allowed a runner to score to put
the Wolverines down 2-1.
Speierman struggled with
her command all game long, but
she continually got herself out
of jams, leaving eight Falcons on

"(Speierman) makes good
pitches," Hutchins said. "But
her game management is not
acceptable ... because balls in the
dirt, walked batters, it's just not
acceptable. You can't have six or
seven walks and pitch here.
"Her ball count is way too
high and I think she's better than
that."
In the bottom of the fifth, Lane
hit her game-winning homer, a
mammoth blast over the left field
wall. The ball hit near the top
of the trees residing outside of
the field, the only thing keeping
it from potentially reaching the
adjacent Ray Fisher Stadium.
"It felt good," Lane said. "(It
was my) first (homerun) at home,
so that was exciting, but they're
all the same. Every hit, too. She
just laid it in there and I took
advantage."
Two more singles by freshman
catcher Caitlin Blanchard and
senior designated hitter Marley
Powers ensued. Then another
base hit, this time by freshman
rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle, put
Michigan up 4-2.
Speierman kept the Falcons
from crossing the plate one more
time in the sixth, and then Tay-
lor came in with a two-strikeout,
one-two-three inning for the
save.
Despite the early hole, the
Wolverines never had any doubts
in earning their third-straight
come-from-behind victory.
"We've had better games,
obviously," Lane said. "But we
never got down, we knew we'd
come through.
"Every time we got in the cir-
cle for defense, we'd be like no
problem (Speierman), we've got
you, don't worry about it. So we
just believed that we can do it,

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