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February 07, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, February 7, 2014 - 7

Softball starts 2014
campaign in Florida

Mi
co'
afte
Se
Th
ball
blue 1
"Tear

chigan looks for said coming in it's a whole new
year and (we'll) never be satis-
ntinued success fied."
College World Michigan will need to be
r relentless early this weekend,
considering that its season
ries last season starts off with a split double-
header against No. 4 Florida
By KELLY HALL and No. 25 South Florida on
DailySports Writer Saturday. On Sunday, the Wol-
verines take on Illinois State in
e No. 5 Michigan soft- the morning followed by a game
team has been sporting against Bethune-Cookman in
bracelets with the phrase the afternoon.
s 37" printed on the out- Although Michigan is slated

more shortstop Sierra Romero
is the reigning Big Ten Player
of the Year and will back up an
offense boosted by three return-
ing All-Big Ten First Team
selections: senior first baseman
Caitlin Blanchard, sophomore
outfielder Sierra Lawrence and
junior catcher Lauren Sweet.
Anchoring Michigan's
offense will be junior pitcher
Haylie Wagner and All-Big Ten
first team pitcher Driesenga,
who, when combined, account-
ed for 50 of the Wolverines' 51
wins last season. Freshman
pitcher Megan Betsa - a two-
time Georgia State Player and
Pitcher of the Year in high
school - will add an extra layer
of depth to the already well-
accomplished group.
"We're definitely a pitching
staff, which is a huge advan-
tage for us," Driesenga said.
"We're all here to work with
each other and we're going to
complement each other."
Added Hutchins: "I've got
three pitchers that are capable.
They're all going to get pitch-
ing time."
Betsa isn't the only new
addition expected to make a
contribution, though. Fresh-
man infielder Abby Ramirez,
outfielder Kelly Christner and
infielder Lindsay Montema-
rano will also be counted on to
provide depth.
"I expect (the freshmen)
all to come in and hopefully
make an impact on Saturday,"
Hutchins said. "We're working
them all."
Though Michigan softball is
coming off of a successful 2013
season that included a trip to
the College World Series, one
thing is for certain: Hutchins
knowsthat lastyear has no bear-
ing on the upcoming season.
"You start at zero," Hutchins
said. "Nobody has a win or a
loss. The rankings don't mean
anything until June. That's the
only time rankings matter, is
when you're done. ... The game
doesn't know if you're ranked,
the game doesn't know if you're
a freshman or a senior, the game
knows if we play well or if we
don't."

TRACY tO/Daily
Freshman guard Siera Thompson hit two free throws with five seconds left to push the Wolverines past the Wildcats.
Thompson's five treys
tank Wildcats on road

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins aims to get Michigan back to the College World
Series after last pear's success, hat is focused on playing use eame at a time.

Th(
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Th
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Thom
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What team? shots when her team needed her
the most. Before her free throws,
mpson had head with the game teetering on the
brink and Northwestern pres-
he game against suring, the guard hit a 3-pointer
from the right wing with 2:38 left
the Wildcats to extend the Wolverines' lead to
four.
By MAX COHEN Thompson unleashed her
Daily Sports Editor full arsenal of 3-pointers on the
Wildcats. With Michigan down
ra Thompson rarely miss- one with 11 minutes left in the
re throws. And when the game, Thompson drained her
man guard was fouled with second 3-pointer of the game.
econds left in the Michi- Then, she hit two more treys in
women's basketball game the Wolverines' next three pos-
rthwestern with the game sessions to catapult Michigan'to
she did what she always a five-point lead. Michigan never
- made her free throws: trailed again.
er her team dropped two Before her timely shooting,
cutive games in decisive the Wolverines were heading
n last week, Thompson towards familiar territory. Simi-
red the Wolverines the larly to last week's game against
ly to their recent woes in Minnesota, Michigan watched a
-68 victory over the Wild- halftime lead evaporate early in
1-6 Big Ten, 14-9 overall). the second half when Northwest-
ry not touttoo much pres- ernembarked on-an 8-0 run to tie
)n myself," Thompson said. the game at 39. This time, Thomp-
ed to be calm. They were son's 16 second-half points on her
lots, but I tried to be calm way to a career-high 25 saved the
se if I'd have let the pres- Wolverines from a similar fate.
get to me, I'd have missed. "After they made that run, our
w my teammates had confi- tendency has been to fall apart,"
in me." said Michigan coach Kim Barnes
ompson's teammates had Arico. "And tonight, we had to
reason to be confident - battle back. It was great to see
pson shoots 92 percent our team take those next steps
he free throw line. Her free forward."
s capped off a second half Thompson wasn't Michigan's
ich she provided Michigan sole focus early on as it started
15-8) with a bevy of offen- off the game strong and main-
firepower, hitting timely tained control throughout the

first half. The Wolverines pieced
together runs of 8-0, 12-0 and
6-0 in the first half, but they
never pulled away because of the
Wildcats' spot-on 3-point shoot-
ing. Northwestern shot 6-for-10
from deep in the first half, bailing
out its turnover-prone offense.
Michigan scored 16 points off the
Wildcats' 10 first-half tunovers,
fueling its 37-30 halftime advan-
tage.
The Wolverines established
an inside presence on the 8-0
run after the Wildcats scored
the game's first basket. Three of
Michigan's baskets on the run
came around the rim, a surprise
against the Big Ten's leading
shot-blocking team. Junior for-
ward Cyesha Goree scored two
of the inside baskets on the early
run and parlayed her early suc-
cess into 10 first-half points to go
with four rebounds.
The Wolverines' success in
-t-he-pai~niearly helped open the
perimeter later for Thompson in
the second half. Northwestern's
outside shooting was also for-
midable. The Wildcats knocked
down 12 treys throughout the
game, taking advantage of Michi-
gan's susceptible defense beyond
the arc. With the second-half
surge, the Wolverines were able
to avoid a similar fate to their
previous two games.
"Those two losses definitely
humbled us," Thompson said.
Her repeated clutch shots also
helped.

side and the hashtag "Relent-
less" inscribed on the inside
throughout the past few- weeks
to remind itself to stay moti.
vated.
The Wolverines hope to prove
that they are just as "Relentless"
as their wrists say they are this
weekend at the USF' Tourna-
ment in Tampa, Fla.
"(It's) a good word for our
team," said junior pitcher Sara
Driesenga. "Last year, too, I

against tough opponents for its
first games of the season, Michi-
gan ucoach Carol -Hutchins, is
approaching4he games like she
always does.
"Every test is tough,"
Hutchins said. "Our biggest
opponent is always us. We need
to worry about whatwe do."
The Wolverines, who are
returning six starting position
players, have a favorable balance
of experience and youth. Sopho-

Men's lacrosse looks to
establish itself early on

In i
y

On
Michi
perfec
exactl
season
Divisi
The
contes
Penn;
ing to
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break
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"Wc
season
senior
"I thit
ious to
The
on a T
consid
power
world.
NCAA
the N:
the ne
win th
ciation
"Pei

ts third season, Paras said. "But we're coming
into the season with the expec-
1ichigan will tation that we can play with any-
one."
again rely on The Nittany Lions are led
by Jeff Tambroni, a two-time
outh to excel recipient of the CAA Coach
of the Year Award. In his four
By MINH DOAN years at Penn State, Tambroni
Daily Sports Writer has built a program that excels
on both sides of the ball.
Saturday afternoon, the The Nittany Lions offense is
gan lacrosse team has the led by attacker and 2013 CAA
:t opportunity to show Rookie of the Year TJ Sanders,
y why this could be the who topped his team with 44
a it becomes a legitimate goals last season. On the other
on I contender. side of the ball, Penn State's
Wolverines enter their defense is also very strong,
t at No. 7 building on a No. 2 national
State look- ranking last year.
open their Michigan at But in lacrosse, the success of
on a high Penn State the defense depends largely on
After beat- the goaltender, and the Nittany
Marquette, Michigan 0-0 Lions have one of the best in net-
n a scrim- Penn State 0-0 minder Austin Kaut. The senior
last Satur- had a fantastic 2013 campaign
Michigan urday 1 PM in which he won the Ensign C.
to finally Markland Kelly Jr. Award, given
out after Where: to the best collegiate goaltender
cutive Penn State in the nation. He also was hon-
rin sea- Lacrosse Field ored as the CAA Player of the
Year.
e're very excited to get the "Anytime we're on offense,
started," said fifth-year we have to be smart with the ball
midfielder Thomas Paras. and not have giveaways," Paras
nk everyone's pretty anx- said. "With a good goalie like
get going Saturday." (Kaut), we have to make sure
Wolverines will be taking that we're eliminating any men-
Nittany Lion team largely tal mistakes, unforced turnovers
ered one of the biggest and making (Penn State) play to
houses in the lacrosse our tempo."
Penn State made the Kaut and midfielder Tom
Tournament last year as LaCrosse were both selected in
o. 7 seed and comes into Major League Lacrosse's player
w year a heavy favorite to draft, which took place in Janu-
te Colonial Athletic Asso- ary.
1. The Wolverines will try to
nn State is a tough team," score on the stout Penn State

defense using their midfield-
ers. Michigan coach John Paul
knows his team won't get many
chances, but the key to win-
ning will be to capitalize on
those opportunities when they
come.
Playingjust their third season
as a varsity program - with only
two official recruiting classes -
the Wolverines will rely heavily
on their youth. This means that
many freshmen will be given a
substantial amount of playing
time this Saturday in their first
official NCAA game.
That list of freshmen includes
goalie Robbie Zonino, attacker
Ian King and midfielder Mikie
Schlosser. All three will be given
opportunities to shine early on.
Zonino has the task of replac-
ing East Coast Athletic Confer-
ence Goalie of the Year Gerald
Logan, who tore his labrum and
is out for the season.
"The key to (Zonino's) suc-
cess is confidence," Paul said.
"He needs to make a few saves
and get hot early."
Saturday's match will be a
good gauge of where Michigan
stands as a program. For a team
badly in need of a signature win
on their resume, a victory over
Penn State would be a good way
for the Wolverines to announce
their arrival to the lacrosse
world.
For that to happen, though,
Michigan knows it'll have toput
together one of its best games.
"The goalie has to play well,
we're going to have to win face-
offs, everyone is going to have
to play well," Paul said. "We're
going to have to execute as a
team really, really well."

The Wolverines
will face off against
Texas, Duke and
Youngstown State
By MATTHEW KIPNIS
Daily Sports Writer
Though the bulk of conference
play hasn't begun, the Michigan
men's tennis team may already
be in the middle of its toughest
stretch of the entire season, and
handling the string of upcoming
opponents may be the Wolver-
ines' biggest challenge yet.
Michigan (3-2) has lost two
straight matches after winning
its first three. The Wolverines are
coming off a three-game stretch
against top-30 teams in which
they earned only one victory, and
it won't get any easier.
Eight of Michigan's next nine
opponents are nationally ranked.
Friday night, the Wolverines will
have their hands full with No.
10 Texas, and Sunday afternoon,
they'll face off against No. 13
Duke and Youngstown State.
"We are the in the middle of a
really difficult stretch in our sea-
son," said Michigan coach Bruce
Berque. "We've got some good
teams coming up, so we are going
to have to stay tough. We are not
going to win them all. We may
win some, we may lose some, but
if we can win half, it will put our

team in a great position."
The Wolverines do have an
advantage in that seven of the
nine matches will be played at
home in the Varsity Tennis Cen-
ter. Michigan is 75-25 at home
since 2005.
"It's like any other sport -
there is a little bit of an edge to
playing at home," Berque said.
"They are in their surroundings,
and the players are familiar with
the court speed and at the home
crowd. Our guys are in front of
supporters, but
at the end of
the day, we still TeXaS,
have to put a Duke, and
good product
of tennis on the YOUngStOWn
court." State at
Seniors W . a
Shaun Bern- gan
stein and Alex Matchup:
Buzzi have Michigan 3-2;
some expe- Texas 6-0;
rience with Duke 4-2;
Sunday's opp Youngstown
OP State 1-3
nents. On Oct.
18, they defeat- When: Friday
ed Rodrigo 6P.Ma and
Sundapyat 12
Campos and and 5:30 P.M.
Silviu Misreanu Whe-e
of Youngstown Whre
Varsity Tennis
State 8-4 in Center
the first round
of the ITA
Regionals. Bernstein and Buzzi
eventually lost in the third round
of the main doubles draw.
"They haven't been playing
together as a team since then, but

it could help a little," Berque said.
"It is always nice to have a little
familiarity with the opponent."
Although Michigan didn't
get to play Texas in the Key Bis-
cayne Individuals in January due
to- poor weather canceling many
players' flights, they were able
to scout a few Texas players live
which could help them Friday
night.
In order to pull out victories,
the Wolverines will need solid
play from their doubles teams.
The doubles unit is lead by the
undefeated senior team of Buzzi
and Barnett Franks, who have
helped the team earn doubles
points in each of their first five
dual matches this season and an
overall 10-2 doubles record.
Michigan also hopes junior
Alex Petrone and senior Bar-
rett Franks can continue their
hot play. After losing his first
match of the season, Petrone has
won his last four, two of which
came against ranked opponents.
Franks has won three of his first
four singles matches to start the
year.
"We will be looking at the line-
up and try to figure out which are
the six guys we have to put on the
court," Berque said.
Against such stiff opposition,
the Wolverines will need con-
sistent play from their six sin-
gles matches to halt their losing
streak. ifthey falter, the schedule
ahead doesn't get any more for-
giving.

Men's tennis readies for
challenging weekend

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