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May 18, 1998 - Image 13

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1998-05-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Monday, May 18, 1998-- The Michigan Daily -13

Oklahoma lookin' OK for 'M'

By Rick Freeman
Daily Sports Editor
One thing missing from Oklahoma
City might be the huge hometown
crowd that cheered the Wolverines on
at the NCAA Regionals this past week-
But that might be OK with them.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said
................. that the Alumni
sofftb Field record
crowd of 1,452
Commentary made her team a
- ---- little nervous this
What wouldn't be OK, though, is for
the Wolverines to think that simply
making it to the Women's College
rid Series is OK.
"We're not gonna focus on the World
Series this year, we're gonna focus on
softball," Hutchins said.
That's a tall order for most teams,
et to face
By T.J. Berka
Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan softball team has
encountered 35 different teams in
making its run to the College World
,&ries, which will start Thursday in
lahoma City. With a 55-5 record
and a No.2 national ranking, the
Wolverines have had their way more
times than not.
But as Michigan prepares for its
biggest series of games of the year
- perhaps even in the program's his-
tory - it starts off with one of the
few teams that it was unable to solve
this season- Texas.
The Wolverines have one of the
ost explosive lineups in the nation,
but it was hard to tell that by looking
at their game with the Longhorns on
March 8. Flamethrower Christa
Williams, a 1996 Olympian, struck
out 11 batters and held the
Wolverines to only one hit - a sin-
gle by catcher Melissa Gentile - in
the 2-0 victory. Her pitching has
been a key component in Texas' 49-
14 record and No. 8 ranking.
"We are going to have a short
rkout (Monday) and work on our
swinging," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "We are going to work
on taking shorter cuts at the plate."
Despite the setback in March, the
Wolverines are confident and
unfazed by the Longhorns, consider-
ing that every team that Michigan
will face in the World Series will be
a difficult matchup. Also, Texas is
*king its first World Series appear-
ance in its second season as a varsity
"This time of year, every team is
going to be a difficult test," Hutchins
said. "You just have to pick your poi-

but maybe this group of seniors - a
group that's never missed the World
Series - will be the one to do it. No
member of this team has ever finished
her season in a place other than
Except the freshmen.
Marie Barda, Kim Bugel, Chrissy
Garza, Courtney Murdock, Melissa
Taylor and Rebecca Tune might need to
be shaded from the spotlight. And
maybe the experience on the team can
keep the stars out of all their eyes (not
just the freshmen's) and their minds on
Sara Griffin, the self-proclaimed
"old grandma" of the team, could be
just the one.
Griffin, who likes to lose about as
much as a seven-year-old likes to take
a bath, said that even when she was a
freshman, she wasn't 'just happy to be

She wanted more, and she was
denied three times. Last year, it was
due to a fracture in her left (non-pitch-
ing) arm.
But this year, she's healthy and ready
to take her last stab at the title.
After their win yesterday, the
Wolverines stood around Alumni Field,
between the lockerroom and the field,
chatting with parents and friends. They
basked in the mid-afternoon sunlight
and the satisfaction of a job well done.
But their job's not done.
Hutchins likes to compare her team's
task this season to, appropriately
enough, rounding the basepaths.
And Oklahoma is where the glory
basepaths of glory end. Home plate is
only sixty metaphorical feet away.
And reaching it to give Michigan its
first national championship in school
That would be, well, OK.

Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins said that the No.1 thing for the Wolverines
to focus on is softball, not the pageantry of the Women's College World Series.

Aggressive play keys victory

By TU. Berka
Daily Sports Editor
In all sports, the difference between the skill lev-
els and abilities of the teams involved becomes less
and less as you go further in the playoffs. Due to
this, the gap between the winner and loser isn't as
much a difference in skill. Instead, it's usually a dif-
ference in approach.
This was proven vividly in yesterday's champi-
onship game between Michigan and DePaul. The
Wolverines and Blue Demons had relatively equal
run-scoring opportunities, but Michigan was more
aggressive on offense, resulting in a 3-0 victory and
a trip to the College World Series in Oklahoma City.
"It was a well-played game by both teams,"
DePaul coach Eugene Lenti said. "They set their
tone with their aggressiveness offensively, while we
didn't take advantage of situations that were pre-
sented to us."
A case in point was in the bottom of the fifth
inning, when DePaul shortstop and cleanup hitter
Julie Stewart was up with runners on first and third
with two outs and the Demons down, 2-0. Michigan
pitcher Sara Griffin and Stewart fought to a full
count, but Stewart was called looking on a third
strike, ending DePaul's last viable chance to catch
the Wolverines.
Stewart's lack of aggressiveness bothered Lenti,
who reacted by benching Stewart-one of the Blue
Demons' best players - for the remainder of the

"I needed to set the tone for next year," Lenti said.
"If you are going to be passive, you might as well sit
on the bench."
Michigan learned from DePaul's mistake in the
next inning when second baseman Melissa Taylor
walked with two outs. With Lisa Kelley at the plate,
Taylor stole second to advance into scoring posi-
tion. After the steal, Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins pulled Kelley for Tammy Mika.
Entering the game with a 1-1 count, Mika
jumped on the first pitch that DePaul pitcher Nicole
Terpstra threw her, drilling a single into right field
and scoring Taylor with an insurance run.
Mika "did a great job," Hutchins said. "She got
on top of the pitch and drove it."
Aggressive play also helped the Wolverines jump
on top in the first inning. After a groundout by lead-
off hitter Traci Conrad, rightfielder Kellyn Tate
smacked Terpstra's first pitch over the right-field
fence for her first home run of the season and pro-
viding all the runs the Wolverines would need.
"I was more aggressive today," Tate said. "I feel I
do better when I jump on the first pitch instead of
letting it go by."
Michigan's drive and aggressiveness - and
DePaul's lack of it - spelled the difference at
Alumni Field yesterday. And if the Wolverines are
going to win their first national championship, the
aggressive play needs to stay.

Melissa Taylor was an aggressor in yesterday's game, steal-
ing second base to set up an RBI single by Tammy Mika.

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