May 9, 2005
1ifts 'M' to title------------
By Kevin Wright
kDaily Sports Writer
As the ball jumped off Northwestern's
Garland Cooper's bat and slowly rolled to
Michigan shortstop Jessica Merchant, the
crowd at Alumni Field rose to its feet. Mer-
chant smoothly fielded the ball, switched it
to her throwing hand and snapped the ball
Ito freshman Samantha Findlay to capture
the final out in yesterday's Big Ten title-
clinching win against Northwestern 8-7.
Entering the weekend series against
the Wildcats, the Wolverines (15-2 Big
Ten, 52-4 overall) needed a sweep to win
the regular-season Big Ten title. The No.
1 Michigan softball team came back to
beat Northwestern yesterday after earn-
ing a 3-0 shutout Saturday to become the
Big Ten regular-season champions.
"I really wanted to win," freshman
Alessandra Giampaolo said. "I thought
this team could win the championship,
and we pulled it out. We all worked
together, and the whole team did it."
In the first inning, the Wildcats (15-
3, 37-14) scored off junior pitcher Jen-
nie Ritter. After a passed ball advanced
Northwestern's base runners to second
land third, the Wildcats' Jamie Dotson
hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring
Northwestern added another run in
the second inning, but the Michigan bats
came to life in third inning. Giampaolo
hit a two-run homer to right centerfield,
tying the game at two.
The Wildcats responded in the bot-
tom of the inning when Churchill singled
and then Cooper doubled off the base
of the wall in left centerfield. With run-
ners on second and third, Dotson drove
in Churchill with a single through the left
side of the infield. Then Kristen Salamon
skied a sacrifice fly into rightfield, scoring
Cooper and regaining a two-run lead.
After allowing four runs in three
innings, Ritter was replaced by sopho-
more Lorilyn Wilson in the fourth
inning. Wilson gave the Wolverines a
sorely needed spark, and she retired the
next six Wildcats in a row.
"Lorilyn came up with two huge shut-
out innings," Merchant said. "North-
western had scored in every inning until
Lorilyn came in. She did great today."
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the
Wolverines scored six runs with two
outs to pull ahead of Northwestern.
After junior Grace Leutele ground-
ed out, junior Stephanie Bercaw
walked. Following junior Becky
Marx's strikeout, sophomore Rebekah
Milian started the Michigan rally with
an infield single.
With runners on first and second,
junior Tiffany Haas stepped to the plate
- already 0-3 on the day. Haas didn't
Senior Jessica Merchant celebrates Michigan's 8-7 win over Northwestern yesterday, which clinched the regular-sea
wait long to break out of her slump. She
shot the first pitch that she saw to the
base of the wall in left centerfield. The
triple drove in Bercaw and Milian to tie
the game at four. Michigan added four
more runs before Leutele struck out.
Although she was armed with an
8-4 lead, Wilson struggled in the bot-
tom of the sixth inning. Northwestern
narrowed the Wolverines' lead to one
when Shelia McCorkle hit a three-run
homer that reached the pine trees in
Not waiting to see if Wilson could
bounce back from the home run, Michi-
gan coach Carol Hutchins reinserted
Ritter to finish the game.
In the finaltwoinnings, Ritterregained
the dominating form that she has dis-
played throughout the season. The junior
didn't allow a hit while striking out three
of the final six Wildcat batters.
"Jennie was outstanding again,"
Hutchins said. "It's tough to come back
into a game and pitch to the top of North-
western's lineup in the seventh inning."
Michigan won its 10th regular-sea-
son Big Ten Championship in the past
14 years, but Hutchins believes this
year's team will be able to carry its
momentum into the postseason.
"I couldn't be prouder of them,"
Hutchins said. "I just don't want them
to relax on this. The seniors kept this
team focused all year, and I don't
believe the (Big Ten regular-season
title) will phase them."
The Wolverines will host the Big Ten
Tournament starting on Thursday.
'Blue shines in lone home meet
By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer
There's no place like home.
The men's track team's perfor-
mance at last weekend's non-scoring
Len Paddock Invitational embodied
the spirit of this phrase. Michigan
athletes won five events in the team's
only opportunity to compete at Ferry
Field this season.
Junior Andrew Ellerton showed
how he benefits from the home envi-
ronment by winning the 800-meter
run for the second year in a row with
a time of 1:48.25. Ellerton set the
Ferry Field record in the 800 during
last year's Len Paddock with a time
"It's always fun to have a home
meet," Ellerton said. "It's nice
to have more fans than just your
After leading through one lap,
jllerton dropped to third place as he
headed down the home stretch. But
then he kicked into a higher gear
and passed Kent State's Mike Inge
and the Irish Milers Club's Thomas
Channey in the final 100 meters to
earn the victory.
"When he got passed, I thought,
'Well, he's just not feeling well. We've
been training hard, and he must be
feeling rough,' " Michigan coach Ron
Warhurst said. "Then I look up, and
here he comes again."
Ellerton felt that his performance
in the team's final regular season
meet is a good sign of how he will
run in the upcoming meets.
"I think that race gave me a bet-
ter indication of where I'm at rather
than just basing it off workouts,"
Ellerton said. "I think I'll be right
up there at the front at Big Tens and
be set for the rest of regionals and
Senior Rondell Ruff set a per-
sonal record in the 800 by breaking
1:50 for the first time in his career,
Senior Tom Greenless put to rest
questions regarding his status with
his win in the 3,000-meter run. His
time of 8:25.75 came in the final
home appearance of his career.
Greenless had not yet competed
during the outdoor season and, his
performance in this event would
determine whether or not he would
run in next weekend's Big Ten
"I just didn't want to open and
close (the season) on the same day,"
Greenless said. "I'm glad the season
will last a little longer."
An Achilles injury had prevent-
ed the senior from competing, but,
after watching the race, Warhurst
decided Greenless would be in
"I told him to pack his bags (for
Columbus)," Warhurst said.
One of the most dominating per-
formances of the weekend came in
the 400-meter hurdles on Friday
evening. The Wolverines swept the
top-five positions and posted two
NCAA regional qualifying times.
Freshman Chris Stowe won the
event and set a new personal best
with a time of 52.29 - five hun-
dredths of a second faster than his
previous best time. Both Stowe
and senior Seth Waits earned their
second NCAA regional qualifying
times of the season.
The Wolverines begin their post-
season next weekend at the Big
Ten Outdoor Championships at
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in
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