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March 26, 2012 - Image 12

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4B - March 26, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Pitching key for Michigan

ADAM GLANZMAN/Daily
Freshman forward Phil Di Giuseppe battles for positioning on a faceoff in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Cornell.
Power play runs dry

By LIZ VUKELICH
Daily Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wisc. - Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson bluntly
stated that Cornell's special
teams were a "factor" and "a big
part of the game" in No. 2 Michi-
gan's 3-2 overtime loss against
the Big Red in first round of the
NCAA Tournament.
That's a bit of an understate-
ment. Cornell's special teams
were clear difference-makers in
a game that saw 27 minutes of
penalties for the Big Red but no
power-play goals from the Wol-
verines.
Cornell's own power play
knotted up the game with Michi-
gan in the firstperiod and itspen-
alty kill propelled them forward
in the opening minute of the sec-
ond frame.
That second stanza was what
started the slew of penalties.
The referees could not keep their
whistles away from their lips,
with the game being paused often
to march various players into the
penalty box.
Amidst all the whistle blowing
and game stoppages, Cornell's
Armand de Swardt took a five-
minute major penalty and gaie
misconduct for contact to the
head. It seemed like the answer

Michigan was looking for, the
perfect occasion to make a state-
ment and get back in the game.
Hardly. Ten seconds after the
call was made, junior defense-
man Lee Moffie took his own
trip to the sin bin, throwing away
part of the Wolverines' valuable
opportunity.
Once Moffie left the box,
Michigan still had another three
minutes to try and make the
most of its man advantage. And
the team tried its best, getting 13
shots on goal during the course of
the game misconduct.
But the puck didn't find twine.
The closest thing the Wolverines
saw to a goal during that five-
minute stretch was just a loud
clank off the post.
"We had 13 shots on goal dur-
ing that five-minute major,"
Berenson said. "We didn't score.
That was the frustrating part,
especially when you're behind in
a game."
But just like Moffie's penalty,
the power-play pendulum took
another swing in Cornell's direc-
tion when sophomore defen-
seman Jon Merrill's tripping
penalty resulted in a Cornell pen-
alty shot.
Locke Jilson took a weak shot
on goal that fifth-year senior
goaltender Shawn Hunwick eas-

ily saved. And though it was still
a sobering reminder to the Wol-
verines about how costly mind-
less penalties can be, Michigan
seized the momentumback again
to play what Berenson consid-
ered to be some of the team's best
hockey of the night.
"We felt that we played well in
the last five minutes of the second
period," Berenson said. "We just
wanted to play the game five-on-
five and get some pace going, get
some momentum going."
The power play visibly strug-
gled all year. The Wolverines
converted a measly 15 percent of
the time with the man advantage.
Cornell doesn't have that much
better of a record at 17 percent,
but with the Big Red holding onto
the lead for the most of the night,
their primary concern was sim-
ply to starve off Michigan for as
long as possible.
Despite the special team's
woes, junior forward Kevin
Lynch didn't think the power
play's problems deflated the
morale of the team at all during
that five-minute period.
"For us guys on the bench that
aren't on the power play, we just
try to get the team going," Lynch
said. "We just try to get our team
going, and we get out there, we
just try and do the best we can."

By ALEXA DETTELBACH
Daily Sports Writer
In their first career Big Ten
games, freshman pitchers Hay-
lie Wagner and Sara Driesenga
handled the event like veterans -
calm, cool and collected.
This past weekend, the No. 20
Michigan softball team swept
Penn State (0-3 Big Ten, 7-18 over-
all) in a three-game series, win-
ning by scores of 11-2, 12-4 and
6-0.
Michigan (3-0,21-9) was able to
find a rhythm on the mound, but
its pitching wasn't the only story
over the weekend: the Nittany
Lions' bullpen was, too.
While Driesenga and Wag-
ner carried their matchups with
poise, Penn State struggled to
control its pitches, which led to
several runs for Michigan. The
troubles of Nittany Lions' bull-
pen gave confidence to the Wol-
verines' pitchers - they knew
they could rely on their offense to
maintain a lead.
"Anytime somebody gives you
something for free, don't you
think it's a good thing for your-
self and not so good for the other
team?" said Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins. "They gave us a lot of
free bases."
The Wolverines certainly capi-
talized, with 22 hits in two games
on the first day of play and a sea-
son-best 13 hits on Sunday. Michi-
gan's success at the plate Sunday
forced Penn State ace Lisa Aka-
mine to throw 137 pitches.
Meanwhile, left-hander Wag-
ner pitched a two-hitter while
striking out three from the
mound for Michigan in the first
game of the series.
"At first, I didn't think Haylie
was her most confident self out
there," Hutchins said Saturday.
"But she cleaned up in the end."
In the second game on Satur-
day, Driesenga, a right-hander,
started off by striking out her
first two batters. But after walk-
ing three, she was pulled in the
middle of the third inning, hav-
ing notched three strikeouts and
allowed two hits.
"Sara came out strong and she
looked great," Hutchins said. "We
took her out because bases were
loaded and we still didn't have

"

Freshman Sara Driesenga was pulled in the third inning on Sunday.

anybody out, and we didn't want batters, bringing her total on the
to let (Penn State) get back in the day to five, while allowing two
game. I thought she pitched well, more hits.
so it wasn't a case where we didn't "We still gave up six runs on
think she could do it but at that the day," Hutchins said. "A little
more than I'd like, (and) I told
them that tomorrow is going to be
the hardest day because you can
"It was very (come) ini overconfident and lose
when we're supposed to win."
relaxed and The Wolverines listened.
The offense found success,
calming in the and Wagner pitched a two-hitter,
didn't allow a run and struck out
second day." five. It was her fourth shutout of
the season.
"(Today), my pitches were
working," Wagner said. "My spins
pointwejustneeded to mix itup." were working and I just came out
Mixing it up meant another and I felt great. Better than yes-
appearance for Wagner. terday. It was very relaxed and
"Haylie is our best pitcher that calming in the second day out
commands the zone and has the there."
ability to get after the team, so I overall, the series helped
thought she was our best option," Michigan get out of their offen-
Hutchins said. sive slump and solidified the
When Wagner took over in the freshmen-pitching powerhouse
third, she struck out two more for the Wolverines.

Sugiyama captures Big Ten vault title, 'M' places fourth

By GLENN MILLER JR.
Daily Sports Writer
There are 19 Big Ten Champi-
onship banners that hang inside
the Shepherd Training Center
- home of the Michigan wom-
en's gymnastics team. If all went
according to plan, the Wolverines
would have raised up their 20th
on Saturday night.
But Michigan's season hasn't
gone according to plan. It's been
riddled with unexpected injuries
and flashes of inexperience.
The Wolverines will now have
to wait another year to raise
another banner.
Though, if there is a silver lin-
ing to Michigan's fourth-place
finish at the 2012 Big Ten Cham-
pionships, it may be the difference
a whole year can make. Just ask
freshman Sachi Sugiyama, who

took home Saturday's Big Ten
vault title in her rookie campaign.
No. 21 Michigan claimed the
top spot in the morning session of
Saturday's event but was topped
by three others during the sec-
ond session inside Iowa's Carver-
Hawkeye Arena. The Wolverines'
195.875 was fourth-best out of the
eightteams competing, as Nebras-
ka claimed its first Big Ten title
with a 197.100 finish.
"It was so exhilarating," Sugi-
yama said. "There's so much
energy going around. Everyone
wanted it so badly. It just came
down to who had the cleanest rou-
tines and who could hit today. We
did the best we could today, and
I'm proud of myteam for it."
Michigan (8-5 Big Ten, 13-8
overall) placed two competitors
on the podium at the conclusion
of the day's events, while posting

its fourth-highest overall score
for the season. In addition to her
vault crown, Sugiyama earned
second on uneven bars after being
bested by the Cornhuskers' Lora
Evenstad in the second session.
Sophomore Joanna Sampson tied
for runner-up on vault, contribut-
ing to the team's second-highest
score this season for the event.
Both Sugiyama and Sampson were
selected to theAll-Championships
Team, while junior Katie Zurales
represented the team for the Big
Ten Sportsmanship Award.
The Wolverines' strong start
on beam was executed without a
single fall, as they tallied a 48.725.
Freshmen Annette Miele led
Michigan with a 9.800, her sec-
ond time this season recordingthe
team's top score on beam. From
the middle of the lineup, Zurales
posted a 9.775, only to be followed

by sophomore Shelby Gies' 9.750.
A pair of 9.700s from Sampson
and sophomore Stephanie Colbert
rounded out the rotation for the
Wolverines. The team continued
its streak of consecutive beam
performances without counting
a fall since its meet in February
against Utah.
"The first event, you get your
nerves out," Zurales said. "It was
challenging, but we started off
solid. I am so proud of everyone.
We all went out there and hit real-
ly solid routines. Again, I think
we have a lot to be proud of, and I
can't say that enough."
In its second rotation, Michigan
looked to continue its momentum
on floor. Zurales' team-leading
9.825 was accompanied by four
other Wolverine scores of 9.700 or
higher. A pair of 9.750s from Sugi-
yama and Miele was followed by

Sampson and sophomore Reema
Zakharia with 9.725 and 9.700,
respectively. At the halfway point
of the meet, Michigan (97.475)
trailed both Illinois (97.850) and
Michigan State (97.500).
Needing a spark of energy, the
Wolverines completed a series of
spectacular vault routines. Sugi-
yama's event-winning 9.950 paved'
the way for Michigan, followed
by Sampson's 9.900, which tied
for second. Colbert's impressive
9.825 out of the leadoff spot was
preceded by Zurales' 9.875 and
Miele's 9.825. The Wolverines
finished with a total of 49.375 for
the event, their highest score in
a month. The freshman duo of
Sugiyama and Miele both set new
career-highs, while Colbert tied
her season-high on vault.
"The team really helped to
set her up for that, because we
were just sticking one vault after
another,"said Michigan coach Bev
Plocki. "When you're doing that,
you help to build the scores. It was
a beautiful vault, and she absolute-
ly nailed the landing. It's pretty
impressive to come out your fresh-
men year winning first and second
place on two of four events."
As Michigan headed into the
final event on bars, it trailed
Illinois by one-tenth of a point.
Another team-leading score by
Sugiyama (9.900), contributed to
the Wolverines' late push to win.
Miele followed with a 9.825, as
did Zurales and Gies with a pair
of 9.800s. In her first-ever bars
routine, Colbert's 9.700 sealed
Michigan's win over the Fighting
Illini and a first-place finish in the
morningsession.
"After vault, I took it as a chal-
lenge," Colbert said. "I've never
competed on bars, and (I) knew it
wasn't my best event but felt confi-
dent. I tried to tell myself that it's
just another routine in the gym
and focus on doing what I needed
to do."
Colbert's final routine placed
her as an all-arounder for the
meet, as the Wolverines finished
with five all-arounders forthe first
time this season. Zurales' team-

leading total of 39.275 was closely
followed by Sugiyama's 39.250.
Miele broke her career-high with
a 39.175, while Colbert's 38.650
was her first career all-around
score. Sampson finished the night
with a 38.600 to complete the
night for Michigan.
Sugiyama's vault title made
her the program's 77th Big Ten
individual champion and the pro-
gram's 14th Big Ten vault champi-
on. The crown also continues the
Wolverines' streak of 22 straight
conference meets with at least one
Big Ten individual champion, dat-
ing back to 1991.
"I'm feeling amazing," Sugi-
yama said. "It's an indescribable
feeling to go up on the podium for
Michigan and win vault. To get
that first-place medal around your
neck is just so awesome."
Though Michigan won't raise
its sixth-consecutive Big Ten
banner this season, it still has
the opportunity to win at NCAA
Regionals - the team's ultimate
goal for the season. With Satur-
day's score added to the team's
regional qualifying score, the
Wolverines can now drop their
195.300 from the meet against
Georgia. That will improve Michi-
gan's RQS from 195.710 to 195.825
before heading to Regionals on
April 7.
The Wolverines will find out
where they'll compete on Mon-
day at 3 p.m. during the NCAA
Regionals Announcement Show.
No matter the venue, Michigan
will undoubtedly need its best per-
formance of the season in order to
make a reappearance to the Super
Six appearance in the hopes of
winninga national championship.
"I thought that with the excep-
tion of a couple small breaks we
had on floor, we had an excellent
meet," Plocki said. "We're young,
we've improved throughout the
season, and ultimately, we're
going home finishing higher than
the ranking we came in. That's
definitely awin for us. We're going
to look forward to coming back
and trying to regain our place at
the top of the podium next year."

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