The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 6, 2002 - 15
Alumni Field set to host Big Tens
By Bob Hunt Wisconsin and Penn State. If Michigan wins, it would
Daily Sports Editor advance to the winners' bracket championship for a
spot in the title game on Saturday. However if Michi-
Entering the weekend, it seemed like the Michigan gan loses, they will have to climb through the losers'
softball team would be traveling to Columbus for the bracket, which means it would have to win three games
Big Ten Tournament next week. But then it caught a - two on Friday and one on Saturday morning - to
break. play for the tournament title.
Ohio State's loss to Penn State on Saturday opened While Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa are virtually '
the door for Michigan to win the Big Ten regular season certain of recieving bids to the NCAA Tournament, the
title. Virtue of its 1-0 win over Michigan State, the three remaining teams will fight for the automatic bid
Wolverines get to stay at home as the conferences best to the NCAA Tournament that the tournament winner
transcend upon Ann Arbor Thursday. receives.
"If we would have gone away, we would have done a "Everyone we face I will be worried about because
fine job as well," center fielder Meghan Doe said. "It's every team comes in there with nothing to lose,"
just a matter of how the cards are played I guess." Hutchins said.
The squads that finished in the top six in the final If the Wolverines are going to be successful, they are
regular season standings - Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, going to have to pitch well and play solid defense like e -
Wisconsin, Illinois and Penn State - will face off when they won against Michigan State on Saturday and
against each other in a three-day double elimination Sunday. The six tournament teams feature eight of the Carol Hutchins and the Wolverines are DANNY MOent ttle.
tournament. top nine pitchers in the conference in earned run aver- going for their seventh Big Ten Tounament ti.
The Wolverines have historically performed well in age in conference games, and these pitchers are expect- SP R A Ssore of winninig a conference title were
the Big Ten Tournament, winning five of the last seven ed to pitch a lot of innings. enough to keep the game close.
years and losing in the title game in 1999 and 2001. But Wisconsin's Andrea Kirchberg - who beat the Continued from Page 13 "It's really hard to win championships,
that does not mean that going against this year's field Wolverines earlier this season - has appeared in 16 of Big Ten Tournament this weekend. and it's really hard to hit the ball the way
will be easy. the Badgers' 17 conference games and has dominated And although the Spartans, who are 4- we're capable of," Hutchins said. "Our
"That's the biggest concern that you'd have is that hitters when in top form. Ohio State's Wendy Allen 15 in the conference (24-35 overall) did team wanted this bad, and I tried every-
we've won this," Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. leads the league with a conference ERA of 0.29, and not seem like equal opponents on paper, thing I could think of to loosen them up
"I don't want the kids to be complacent. I want them to Iowa's Kristi Hanks has compiled a conference ERA of the rivalry, Gray's pitching and the pres- today."
be hungry." 1.27 while appearing in 12 of the Hawkeyes' 14 confer-
This year's tournament field presents a great challenge. ence games.
Penn State and Wisconsin have defeated Michigan once "All the best pitchers make it to the postseason,"
this season, and Iowa and Ohio State are ranked as two of Hutchins said. "It's going to get hard, so you have to *
the top 25 teams in the country. rely on your defense. It's fun and it's easy when you're
The Wolverines will open up Thursday afternoon hitting all over the place, but it's not going to always be
against the winner of the morning matchup between that way." New At BeH's:
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By J. Brady McCollough The 12th-ranked Wolverines received and not out of regionals. I think we can Chocolate Chip,
Daily Sports Editor an automatic bid to the tournament by give Stanford a good game, and we can Coffee, Only $7.99 Monday thru Thursday Special
winning the Eastern Championships. beat Loyola Marymount." eainut Butter, One Large Pizza with
Michigan utility player Delia Sonda In its two years of varsity play, Michi- Drury-Pinto is trying her best to Raspberry, Ceese & 1 it
couldn't resist the temptation. gan is 1-19 against teams from the convince her team that there is nothing Pineapple, Cheese & 1 Item
The rest of her teammates were west coast and was defeated by Stan- different about playing against the tra- and Banana Extra Items $1.30 Each
unsure of whether to jump into the ford twice last season, 11-3 and 17-3. ditional powerhouses like the Cardinal OPEN UNTIL 4 A.M
DeNunzio Pool in Princeton, N.J. to But it's been more than a year since and the Bruins. Purchaser must pay sales-tax for both specials 4 A
celebrate their victory in the Eastern Stanford has seen Michigan, and "They could be called Podunk Uni- Minimum Delivery $6.00 Price subject to change Corner of State and Packard
Championships last weekend, but although the Cardinal are stacked with versity," Drury-Pinto said. "It doesn't Coupon Expires 8/12/02 995-0232
Sonda immediately dove into the water Olympic-caliber talent, Drury-Pinto is matter. They're human. We can match
and began "hugging and kicking" with not cowering away. up with those teams. Yeah, they've got
her teammates. "We've kind of got an edge," Drury- some experience on us, but we're
"The anticipation was building," Pinto said. "(Stanford) hasn't seen us. fighters."
said Sonda, who played for the We think that Stanford might not be as The Wolverines had to claw their
Wolverines when they were just a club prepared for us as they might think." way into the NCAA Championships,
water polo te two years ago. "The "When you read the message board beating Indiana in the semifinals in
whole time I was waiting for someone about this tournament, most people are four overtimes and Hartwick in the
to score, and as soon as Jen (Crisman) disregarding us and saying that we're first sudden-death frame. Michigan has
scored, I jumped in, and I looked going to get completely destroyed," a 5-0 record in overtime this season.
behind me and everyone was still Sonda said. "We are very much want- "We have a lot of heart," Sonda said.
standing there. Some people were just ing to prove that we deserve a seat at "If we go into overtime, I'll be confi-
shocked." NCAAs. Some people say that they dent. I think that we will win if we get
The Wolverines are not alone in should take the top four in the country to overtime."
their shocked state. There are many
people in the water polo community
who are trying to figure out how
Michigan jumped to the NCAA Cham-
pionships in just its second varsity sea-
son. But Michigan coach Amber
Drury-Pinto knew it wouldn't take
long for this program to compete with
the nation's elite.
"Coming into Michigan, I knew it
wouldn't take long because they had a
strong club team," Drury-Pinto said.
"It was definitely a perk when I was
looking at this position. All the players
stepped up and rose to the occasion."
The Wolverines will be joined at the
NCAA Championships by No. 1 seed
Stanford, No. 2 seed UCLA and No. 3
seed Loyola Marymount and will face
off against the Cardinal Saturday in
Los Angeles in the national semifinal.
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