32 - The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2006
Lady Vols end repeat bid Is Tommy A maker
By Amber Colvin
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Rebekah Milian swung.
But spectators at Tyson Park never heard the sound of the ball
hitting the catcher's glove - the eruption of celebration from
the Tennessee dugout drowned it out. And as the Volunteers
acng to each other and jumped with delight,to their right stood
a group of sweaty, dirty and worn Wolverines, silently consol-
ing each other with tears.
Facing a 1-0 deficit, Michigan had fought through the bottom
of the seventh to stay alive. With the NCAA Super Regional
crown, a berth to the Women's College World Series and the
Wolverines' season on the line, each batter took their turn fac-
ing All-American ace Monica Abbott.
The 6'3" pitcher kicked off the bottom of the seventh by
striking out senior third baseman Grace Leutele. As an upset
utele left the plate, junior designated player Tiffany Worthy
stepped up and dinged an infield hit to short. Seniortrightfielder
Stephanie Bercaw followed by drawing a walk on five pitches.
A groundout for freshman shortstop Teddi Ewing and
an intentional walk for senior second baseman Tiffany
Haas left Milian with the bases juiced and one very large
weight on her shoulders.
"That's what you live for" Abbott said of the two-out, bases
loaded, bottom-seventh situation.
And just like that, the Goliath in the circle ended
-diichigan's hopes to return to the WCWS and to repeat as
The 13th-ranked Wolverines entered the best-of-three series
with No.5 Tennessee expecting a battle. And with three games
in blistering heat, that's what they got.
"When you have Michigan and Tennessee playing in a best-
of-three series,that might as well be a championship series right
there," senior catcher Becky Marx said. "It's two World Series-
caliber teams that are going at it in the Super Regionals. This
wjole weekend had championship quality all over it."
Tennessee drew first blood on Saturday with a 5-3 victory.
Home runs from Worthy and sophomore first baseman Saman-
tha Findlay couldn't compete with the offensive prowess of the
But after almost 24 hours to simmer, the Michigan bats
exploded in the first inning of game two. Haas set the tone
first by slamming a perfectly placed single deep into rightfield.
Home run leader Marx then brought in the first two scores of
the game with a blast over the leftfield fence, her 13th this sea-
son. When Findlay followed with a single, Abbott was replaced
after just 1/3 of an inning.
"We saw early in the game that Monica wasn't going to have
her stuff that moment," Tennessee coach Ralph Weekly said.
"So we elected to rest her and go with (Megan) Rhodes, know-
ing we'd have Monica if there were another game."
As Abbott sat in the dugout with a cold towel over her
head, the Wolverines kept firing - including another
Worthy home run - for an eventual 5-1 victory to force a
decisive game three.
The winner-take-all game brought out the inevitable All-
American pitchers' duel the crowd had been waiting to see all
weekend: Abbott versus Michigan ace Jennie Ritter.
As spectators fanned themselves under the blistering Ten-
nessee sun, Ritter and the well-rested Abbott fanned batters to
keep the score locked at zero for five innings. The Volunteers
finally broke through in the top of the sixth with the only run of
the game coming off a bloop single from Tennessee rightfielder
"It's a tough game to lose because both teams played like
champions today" Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said.
Out of the hundreds of pitches Ritter threw over the week-
end, she managed 22 total strikeouts.
"By the sixth inning when I was passing Ritter coming off
the mound, she was gasping for air" Weekly said. "But that
kid's got more heart than anyone I've ever seen."
Said Ritter: "My focus in the postseason is just what-
ever it takes. If it takes a thousand pitches, I'll throw a
The senior hurler ends her career with a slew of records,mak-
ing her one of the most decorated pitchers in Michigan softball
history. Also graduating are Haas, Marx, Bercaw and Leutele.
When asked about the five departing seniors, the typically
stoic Hutchins had tears in her eyes.
"They won my heart," Hutchins said. "They won a national
championship. I'll always be their coach."
ust a few weeks ago, Seton Hall
J fired coach Louis Orr, who replaced
Tommy Amaker when he left for
In the five years since Amaker changed
schools, the two coaches produced very
But another statistic
reveals a clear - and
important - contrast.
Amaker has yet to
take Michigan to an4
even though he just saw
his first recruiting class
graduate. Orr's teams
have danced two of the
past three years. JAC
It's nice to know that HERM
a 9,700 student, private
Catholic university in New Ott T
Jersey expects more out of
its basketball program than a
39,000 student public school like Michigan.
But let's just say you, like Bill Martin,
can look past Amaker's poor coaching
(see theIndiana game), poor teaching
(see Courtney Sims) and poor recruiting
(see the past two years). You'll be left
with the one thing Amaker (purportedly)
does well: presenting a clean face for the
But is Amaker really the patron saint
of basketball people typically make him
out to be?
Take a look atrAmaker's team - or
as I like to call it, PT. Amaker's circus
- before a game.
You might notice a number of different
things, including, but not limited to:
; His players wearing differently
" Some of the most disorganized
lay-up lines around.
" Brent Petway, who will be a cap-
tain next year, stretching apart from
the rest of the team.
These things may not seem impor-
tant. But when you think of the troubles
Amaker-coached teams have had down
the stretch (of a game, of a season, etc.),
it makes sense to believe that a little extra
discipline could go a long way. I definitely
can't imagine something like this happen-
ing on Bobby Knight's watch.
Let's move to the big things, starting
Whereas Orr took a proactive approach
- he once suspended a player seven
games for academic reasons - Amaker
has played the waiting game. Petway
missed the first half of the season after
being ruled academically ineligible.
Amaker needs to make sure things like
this don't happen.
Look at the NIT Championship game
in Madison Square Garden. The Wol-
verines embarrassed themselves at least
twice. On national TV, no less. Amaker
raved like a lunatic after a goaltending no-
call. Petway committed ashard intentional
foul, one that many coaches would have
justified asa reason to bench the junior for
the rest the game. Amaker, however, sat
Petway for just a few minutes.
Go back to last year. As my fellow
columnist Megan Kolodgy pointed out,
it was absolutely absurd that Amaker,
who starred in a SAPAC ad, wavered on
whether or not to suspend Daniel Horton,
who had just plead guilty to a misde-
meanor domestic violence charge.
And this begs an even more interesting
Welcome back: Blue wins
first season title since '97
Why did anyone believe
Amaker was really the answer
to Michigan's basketball woes
in the first place?
Take the case of Eddie
From the start, Amaker
sacrificed principle for the
chance to land the top recruit
in the nation.
Itwas pretty apparent that
K if Griffin didn't go pro right
AAN after high school, he wasn't
going to be spending too
1P muchtime in South Orange
(the home of Seton Hall).
Still, Amaker took him.
Just a few weeks before graduation,
RomanCatholic High School in Phila-
delphia kicked Griffin out after he fought
with a teammate in the cafeteria.
Still, Amaker took him.
Then, after a game midway through his
freshman season at Seton Hall, Griffin hit
teammate Ty Shine in the face, resulting
in three stitches under Shine's right eye.
Amaker handed down a hefty pun-
A one-game suspension.
Shine nearly quit. Fans complained.
Griffin punches a teammate in the face,
and Amaker suspends him for one-game?
Doesn't exactly sound like a guy
who wants to build a great face from
So with a clean-cut image out the win-
dow, one would assume Amaker lowered
his standards in return for a few wins.
But, as is the trademark for anAmak-
er-coached team, the Pirates' season fell
apart in impressive fashion.
Ranked in the top 10by every major
magazine to start the season, things quick-
ly went downhill. The Pirates finished a
16-14 season with a loss in the NIT.
And there you have it. In the end, Seton
Hall had no results, no principles and a
team in shambles.
What was the response?
Amaker left for Michigan. Griffin left
for the NBA. And Seton Hall players,
alumni and fans left their nice-guy per-
ceptions of Amaker behind them.
"We didn't think that he'd back out on
us like this;' Seton Hall's Marcus Toney-
El told the Newark Star-Ledger. There's a
bit of betrayal."
And now, once again faced with
a lack of results, Michigan's coach
has resorted back to the old Amaker
gambit. This time, he's ready to sign
certifiable head-case Alex Legion,
who also happens to be ranked as the
15th-best player in the nation.
Some people, Bill Martin included, just
- Herman can be reached at
H. Jose Bosch
May 21, 2006
On Saturday evening, with the shad-
ows slowly creeping over The Fish,
Iowa's L.J. Mims hit a soft liner toward
centerfield. The Michigan baseball team
rushed to the edge of its dugout and
seemed to tug the crowd of 1,034 fans
with them, waiting in anticipation.
-First, the ball fell snuggly into a mitt.
Junior Eric Rose's putout to end a 4-
1 victory over Iowa in the second game
of Saturday's doubleheader not only
marked the end of the game, but also the
beginning of a new era: one of a Big Ten
In only his fourth season at the helm,
Michigan coach Rich Maloney led the
Wolverines to their first regular-season
championship since 1997.
Entering the day, Michigan was a
game ahead of Northwestern in the
Big Ten standings and needed the
Wildcats to split their doubleheader
with Purdue for a chance to clinch
with a sweep on Saturday.
When it was announced Northwest-
ern fell to the Boilermakers 3-0 in the
second game of that doubleheader, the
Wolverines knew it was all on them.
"Coach preaches to us a lot to take care
of our business and we'll determine our
success,"juniorlEric Rose said."But when
we heard that (Northwestern) lost and all
we (needed was) just one win to at least
clinch a tie, it definitely motivated us."
The announcement came just before
Michigan's turn to bat in the eighth
inning of the first game and it put a
charge into the atmosphere at the Fish.
Until then, the fans had witnessed a
good old-fashioned pitcher's duel. The
. Wolverines' Chris Fetter and the Hawk-
eyes' Jeff Maitland traded zeroes on the
scoreboard for seven innings before each
was pulled for a reliever in the eighth.
Iowa failed to push any runs across in its
half of the eighth and left the door wide
open for the home team to take its first
step toward conference supremacy.
Rose led the inning off with a single
and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
After an intentional walk and a strikeout,
Michigan pulled off a rare double steal to
put runners on second and third with two
outs for freshman Adam Abraham. With
a full count on him, Abraham flung the
bat out at a tough pitch and hit a seeing-
eye liner up the middle to score Rose from
the third and put the Wolverines one win
away from a championship.
"We knew we had at least a share (of
the title) right there and it turned into a
little mini celebration," senior Jeff Kun-
kel said. "After the second game, every-
body just went nuts (because) we had it
outright. It's just a great feeling anytime
your team works as hard as we did and
you pull it out and win a championship.
That's the ultimate goal."
Michigan didn't waste any time
notching a run in the second game.
Sophomore Nate Recknegal knocked in
Rose with one out in the first inning for
a 1-0 lead
Then, Iowa sealed its fate and the
Wolverines' championship season in the
After freshman Derek VanBuskirk hit
a two-out single, Hawkeyes second base-
man Travis Sweet had a chance to end the
inning but bobbled an easy ground ball
off the bat of senior A.J. Scheidt.
This led senior Mike Schmidt to drive a
three-run homerun (his 10th) into leftfield
to put Michigan up 4-0. Four runs were
all freshman starter Zach Putnam needed
to secure the win for his teammates.