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May 24, 1999 - Image 12

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-05-24

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12 -- The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 24, 1999
Poor hitting hurts Wolverines throughout postseason stint


By Jon Zemke
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan's Tammy Mika had been in
a bit of a slump. The centerfielder had
only three hits in her last 16 at bats.
Now, in the regional tournament that
top-seeded Michigan was hosting, the
Wolverines were about to be eliminated.
Mika was facing perhaps the last at bat
of her career. There was one out in the
top of the seventh. Her team was down
1-0. With nobody on, Michigan needed a
runner on base in order to stay alive.
Unfazed, Mika dug into the right bat-
ters box, stared down the Notre Dame
pitcher who had shut down Michigan's
offense all day and swung on a full
count. She belted her first single in four
games out of the infield. A sacrifice bunt
by Melissa Taylor moved Mika into scor-
ing position.
Then the mighty Traci Conrad came
to bat. She was the top of the batting
order. The best chance Michigan had at
batting in the winning run. She had a
.391 batting average that was the all-time
best in Michigan history. With more hits
than anyone else in the Big Ten, Conrad
seemed like the best chance to win with
the game on the line.
Three swings later, Conrad struck out.
"The bottom line is we just didn't get

it done:' Michigan softball coach Carol
Hutchins said.
That had been Michigan's story all
weekend. A runner was ready to score
eight times in the last two games and
Michigan's vaunted offense had been
denied. The offense that had averaged
more than five runs a game in the regu-
lar season couldn't even score one run in
their own Regional against the two low-
est seeds.
Of the 14 innings that they played they
only managed a hit in six of them. Of
those, only one inning saw the
Wolverines with multiple hits.
Pitching remained Michigan's strong
point the last two weekends of the sea-
son. The combination of Marie Barda
and Jamie Gillies had allowed only eight
runs in the last six games, including two
"I told them after the game the pitch-
ing this weekend did its part and our
offense didn't,' Hutchins said.
But the hitting had been the key to
Michigan's 33-game unbeaten streak,
which defined their season. It was also
the key to the Wolverines three-game
losing streak, which ended their season.
The latter forced Michigan to lose the
Big Ten title game and eliminated the
team from it's own regional tournament

for the first time in five years, when thc
NCAA Regional was started
Not that the Wolverines didn't try to
correct this problem. In the week of
practicing before regionals, Hutchins
had made hitting their primary aspect of
practice. She stressed hitting the tail end
of the ball instead of pulling the ball and
fouling it off. Her batters were supposed
to take cuts at the first pitch that looked
good instead ofjust taking the first pitch
The result this weekend was a lot of
grounders and flyballs hit right to the
fielders off the first couple of pitches.
The offense faltered, which led to the
fielding mishaps.
It showed all weekend. The heart of
Michigan's lineup, the first six batters,
managed only three hits in 37 at bats.
Conrad and Catherine Davie, two of
Michigan's seniors and most proficient
hitters ever, were held to one hit between
And so went Michigan's season. The
one that had started out slow and uncer-
tain, the one that roared into the mid-sea-
son breaking records and passing mile-
stones, ended with a whimper.
"I feel like we just ran out of gas these
last two weeks;" Hutchins said. "It was-
n't from lack of effort but it just wasn't
our turn."

-' .~mn.. - --
Although Tammy Mika went two-for-three in her final game, the Michigan softball
team couldn't snap its hitting funk to pull out a run.

Michigan can't manage a run in NCAA Regional
OUSTED with two away.
Continued from Page 16 Finally it was senior Traci Conrad's " thought we were going to do it. I
chance to save her team. Conrad leads
came up to bat. Tune had hit well in the both the team and the Big Ten in career think we all thought we could do it.
first game against Florida Atlantic but hits and runs, so hope was still high
Ge Dinstruggled against Notre Dame. A foul among the Wolverines. - Tammy Mika
UA1 Enf and md Se=In pop-up along the first base line would be "I thought we were going to do it, Michigan centerfielder
Us and abread. Transfer s the first out. Mika said. "I think we all thought we
e n ap e J Then, in what would be the last at bat could do it"
n .ente- of her career, senior Tammy Mika But Sharron was ready. going to beat me with my better pitches." Michigan softball season with the team's
404 355 1412 stepped up to the plate having already hit Conrad hit a curve ball earlier in the Sharron said. second loss in the double-elimination
or 770 465 8866 safely in the game. Mika made her last game, so the strategy was to catch her off And it was Sharron who won that tournament.
We Ca mi, bcantactad viae46 ~lmai l ~edat
adI msasnuad trip to the plate count singling to center- guard with the change-up. And after battle. Michigan's first loss came at the
Our web address is field. Conrad swung and missed on the first Just like Casey in Mudville some hands of the Florida Atlantic. The Owls
Next up was Melissa Taylor, whose one, the strategy was working. hundred years ago, the mighty Traci were successful in their first trip to the
* I sacrifice bunt sent Mika to second base "If she was going to beat me, she was struck out. Thus ended the 1999 NCAA regionals, defeating the
Wolverines, 2-0.
Florida Atlantic's NinyaYbarra stat -

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ed things off in the third inning, homW
ing to left field and giving the Owls the
early lead.
Errors in the infield brought in
another run for the Owls, making the
game 2-0 in the top of the third.
Michigais struggled the rest of the
game as Florida Atlantic pitcher Nicole
Myers would keep the Wolverines to
only four hits and no runs.
"I don't know how I was able to hold
them off," Myers said. "Michigan has a
very good hitting team. I knew I wou
nt have a lot of strikeouts so I was ust
hoping they would ground out or pop the
ball up."
They did. Keeping the joy out of Ann
Arbor and the Michigan softball team
out of Oklahoma.


31 t MAYNARD 995.0 t (U of M CENTRAL CAMPUS) 21 &OVEF

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