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June 13, 2005 - Image 1

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-13

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One-hundredfourteen years of editorial freedom

Monday Time 11 900-9;

www.michganday.com Ann Arbor, Michigan Vol. CXV, No. 129 @2005 The Michigan Daily








Blue beats UCLA to
win first national title
in program history

By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY - After 1299 days
since Michigan's last championship, three more
innings couldn't hurt.
The No.-l ranked Michigan softball team
put together its second comeback victory in as
many nights, defeating No. 7 UCLA 4-1 in 10
innings to win the 2005 College World Series.
The national championship is the first title
that any of the 26 varsity teams from Michi-
gan has won since the field hockey team won
its national title in 2001.
"This is obviously a great moment for
Michigan and for Michigan softball and all
the alums in the Big Ten Conference," Michi-
gan coach Carol Hutchins said. "I'm mostly so
proud of these kids because they are incredible
and have been all week."
After several failed attempts by both teams
to break the 1-1 tie in the 10th, it was freshman
Samantha Findlay who finally sealed the deal.
Stepping up to the plate with runners on first
and second and two outs, Findlay took a 1-1
fastball from UCLA pitcher Anjelica Seldon
deep over the leftfield wall. She was met by a
swarm of elated teammates at the plate as she,

along with teammates Tiffany Haas and Ales-
sandra Giampaolo, crossed the plate to give
Michigan a 4-1 lead.
"I tried to keep my head down on the ball
because I had been pulling it out earlier," Find-
lay said. "I kept my head in and then looked up
and saw it go out."
It was also Findlay who gave Michigan (65-
7) the opportunity to play for the title in extra
innings. With the bases loaded and no one
out in the sixth inning, Findlay roped a single
into right field. That run was the lone run the
Wolverines could muster in the inning, as Sel-
don and the Bruins pulled off a Houdini-like
escape. Following Findlay was senior Nicole
Motycka, who hit a line drive right down the
third-base line. The ball found the mitt of
UCLA third baseman Andrea Duran, who
then doubled up Giampaolo, who broke from
third base early. Seldon then got junior Grace
Leutele to strike out looking with a pitch that
caught the outside corner of the plate.
"I think that stopping the bleeding that
inning - that we did today and hadn't done
yesterday - gave our team a lot of confi-
dence," Bruin's first baseman Lisa Dodd said.
UCLA (40-20) had already established
See BRUINS, page 2A

Above: The Michigan softball team holds up the NCAA championship trophy after beating UCLA 4-1 in the deciding game of the championship series.
Right: Michigan coach Carol Hutchins fires up her team during its win over Tennessee.
With one home run, Samantha Fin dlay became my hero

I'll admit it - I've spent a large portion of my
summer vacation cheering for the Michigan softball
team. I had never even been to a game at Alumni
Field before this season, but in recent weeks, I've
found myself scheduling my life around softball
As engaged as I have been all summer, something
changed last week. My admiration for the Wolverines
grew to an almost awe-inspiring level. I went from
fan to fanatic.
To paraphrase a friend, Samantha Findlay became
my hero.
Because in the top of the 10th inning, Findlay
stepped to the plate and cemented her status as Mich-
igan's new superstar with her monstrous home run
over the leftfield wall. How a freshman could remain
calm and deliver a clutch nerformance in a moment

And greatest of all, Jessica Merchant, Michigan's
all-time leading home run hitter, ran across the field
after she nabbed the final out of the deciding game
and tackled Findlay, the freshman who seems des-
tined to threaten her home run crown. The character
of this team is as great as its athletic achievements.
And at the end of the day, the real story of this team
is just how much of a team it is.
At the celebration to honor her team at Alumni
Field last Thursday, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
said this is the first team she has coached that
openly talked about its desire to be national cham-
pions before the season even started. The players set
a goal, worked unbelievably hard to realize it and
never stopped believing in themselves, even when
their backs were against the wall against Tennessee
and UCLA.
I don't know about you, but that's all I could ever
ask of a team - to keep fighting even when victory
seemed improhahle and to do it together

rn~ax I = ~

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