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April 01, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-01

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 7

Wagner stays focused after
flirting with perfection
By KELLY HALL That's not to say she can flirted with a no-hitter deep
Daily Sports Writer easily be rattled. Pitchers like into the game.
Wagner have to stay calm in But, Karlie Habitz, the
Haylie Wagner didn't realize any situation same batter
she had a perfect game going. that crops up, who ended
The junior left-hander had and Wagner's Wagner's
thrown six perfect innings and steadfast "She just does no-hitter the
was two outs away from the concentration day before,
elusive milestone. But someone was only what she does - singled
had to tell her that in the paused in through the
aftermath. , the seventh nothing more, left side for
Wagner's one-hitter was when she hita an RBI to not
the third of her career. It batter. nothing less. only break up
would've been the first "I have the no-hitter
seven-inning perfect game many pitches but also the

- - iv - - " -
Freshman forward Zak Irvin and the Michigan men's basketball team came just seconds away from the Final Four.
A Runfair season for

INDIANAPOLIS - It's
been 20 minutes since the
Michigan men's basketball
team lost to Kentucky, 75-72, in
the Regional Semifinals - 20
minutes since it was four points
from a second straight Final Four.
appearance.
A 6-foot-8
fifth-year
senior
is doing
everything 1
he can to
hold back
tears after
his final SIMON
college KAUFMAN
basketball
game
- and failing to do so. Three
sophomores are answering
questions about their futures -
whether they'll stay another year
or not. A senior team manager in
khakis and a maize polo is sitting
on a water cooler with his head
down, trying to hide puffy red
eyes. He didn't play, but it was his
lastgame, too.
It's easy to say they're looking
forward to next year. Easy to
say how proud they were of
this past season. Easy to praise
Jordan Morgan, the lone player
graduating. It's easy to reflect,
easy to compliment the opponent
and to try, no matter how hard,
to keep their heads up and their
emotions back.
This isn't your YMCA youth
basketball league and not
everyone gets a trophy. And that's
not easy to accept, because after
the year Michigan had, it doesn't
seem fair it will leave empty-
handed.
It's not easy and maybe it's not
fair, either.
Maybe it's not fair to ask a
team that started the season
6-4 to compete for a National
Chamnionshin. Not fair to

expect that a team that lost two
starters to the NBA and an All-
American to an injury would win
the Big Ten title by three games.
Not fair to tella sophomore
who still wears braces that he
should've played better defense
on that last play.
Maybe everyone was caught
up in the lure of last year. Still
replaying Trey's shot, trying to
forget Harrison's. Maybe the
expectations weren't fair.
But, as is said, life is not fair,
not easy. And if ever there was
a microcosm to emphasize that
fact it would be sports. It would
be college sports. And it would be
March Madness.
Because in real life, 18-year-
old kids aren't asked tobe perfect
or be forgotten. But that happens
in college basketball, and it
happens every March.
And that's OK.
It's what makes a stadium of
35,551explode when a Wildcat
guard hits a deep 3-pointer with
two seconds left, and it's what
makes a six-year-oldboywearing
a maize Michigan jersey grab
his dad's leg and cry when a Nik
Stauskas heave misses a minute
later.
It's the reason Caris LeVert
is sitting in a chair in the locker
room with his legs sprawled out
and his arms crossed. He doesn't
look like the player that carried
the team many times this season.
He looks like a little boy who's
been put in timeoutby his mom
and told to think about his bad
behavior. The sophomore bops
his head every couple of seconds,
not like he's singing a songbut
more like he's replaying the
previous 40 minutes - thinking
about every play, what he
could've done differently so that
he wasn't sitting dejected and
expressionless after the game.
He doesn't deserve that feeling

- certainly not after the season
he had. But just down the hallway
from Michigan's locker room at
Lucas Oil Stadium there's a room
full of Kentucky players who don't
deserve that agony either.
And yet that's the reality
of it. It's the best time of the
year because anyone can take
the spotlight and any star can
become an afterthought. It's
Bowl Week, the Frozen Four
and Opening Day all wrapped
into one spectacular month.
And in reality, it's probably too
much emotion squeezed into a
four-week stretch highlighted
by 40-minute contests than is
healthy for us.
But we still prescribe it to
ourselves. Because no matter
how hard, how unfair, that's the
fun of it.
And just like each champion
holds the title temporarily, so too,
each loss fades away.
Across the locker room from
LeVert, Jon Horford playfully
flips Max Biefeldt the bird,
disapprovingofa quip Bielfeldt
made. Theyboth laugh. Morgan
talks with family on his way out
of the stadium. One fan tells him
that she watched every game. He
smiles.
With a swarm of reporters
around him, Michigan coach
John Beilein is level-headed. It's
hard to tell if his team just lost
in the NCAA Tournament or in
a preseason exhibition game.
He praises, reflects and looks
forward. That's the easy part.
Taking a team that had no
business having such high
expectations after roster
changes, and bringing it so close
to another Final Four, that's the
hard part.
Kaufman can be reached
at sjkauf@urnich.edu or
on Twitter @skauf.

in Michigan program history
since Sara Griffin in 1996. It's
not something that happens
very often. So how did she not
notice?
"My whole warm-up
preparation, I was very focused
and locked in," Wagner said.
"I was focusing on the little
things. In the past few weeks,
that's been a problem - I just
haven't been very sharp."
Wagner collected four
strikeouts and retired 19
batters in a row before she ran
into trouble in the bottom of the
seventh inning. With one out in
the seventh, Wagner hit Penn
State's Kasie Hatfield.
Up until that point, Wagner's
unwavering confidence had
allowed her to stay consistent.
After she hit Hatfield, though,
she allowed a single that
consequently ended , her
no-hitter. Her steadiness had
wavered.

that are my
strengths, and I also think it's
me being able to have a short
memory," Wagner said. "If
something goes wrong, I'm able
to go out there and just forget
about it because it's in the past.
If I walk a batter or hit a batter
or something, I forget about
that one and go onto the next
because there's nothing I can
do about it."
Wagner displayed her ability
to quickly regain focus with
a pair of strikeouts to end
the contest, holding the tws
baserunners from advancing.
The lefty has practiced
staying relaxed on the mound,
and it paid off.
On Saturday, Wagner had the
chance to face the Nittany Lions
once again (0-6 Big Ten, 6-21
Overall) when she started the
final game of the series instead
of freshman right-hander
Megan Betsa - and again, she

shutout.
Habitz's single jump-started
Penn State and sparked a four-
run inning, but it wasn't enough
to prevent the mercy rule from
being enacted. The Wolverines
won their final game of the
series 12-4.
Wagner's one poor inning
out of12 didn't worry Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins at all
though.
"Haylie pitches to her
strengths, and her pitching
coach calls to her strengths,"
Hutchins said. "It's not always
strikeouts, but the goal is to jam
them up and work them on the
other side on the plate and mix
it up. A good pitcher takes away
the batter's (timing). She just
does what she does - nothing
more, nothing less."
Wagner now boasts a 17-0
record. If that doesn't scream
consistency, it's tough to find
something that does.

MICHIGAN BASKETBALL IS
HEADED TO THE FINAL FOUR!
April Fools
Graduate Programs Open House

RSVP to attend online or learn more at
comminfo.rutgers.edu/michigan.
*Ranked sixth in the country by U.S. News & World Report

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