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May 08, 2006 - Image 13

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-05-08

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May 8, 2006

Se TiSiiganBadu


"'M' past
*By Dan Feldman
Daily Sports Writer
weather heats up, so does sophomore
Samantha Findlay's bat.
Last year, Findlay stepped up her
already stellar hitting late in the sea-
son, winning the Women's College
World Series Most Outstanding Play-
er award.
But this season,
Findlay appeared
to be pressing at
the plate. All of her offensive num-
bers are down from a year ago, and
coming into yesterday's game, she
hadn't hit a home run in more than
a month.
But over the weekend, she relaxed
and led the Michigan softball team
1(14-4 Big Ten, 37-13 overall) to a
sweep over rival Michigan State (9-
11, 34-24).
"Sam plays better when she has
fun, and she definitely had fun this
weekend," senior Jennie Ritter said.
'We're going to do our best to keep
Pher happy (and) keep her having
Yesterday, with a handful of Mich-
igan fans holding up their Sam's Club
cards when Findlay came to bat with
the bases loaded in second inning,
she slammed a 2-2 pitch over the
right field fence to give Michigan a
7-0 lead.
"I'm just having fun," Findlay
said. "It's coming to the end of the
season and you just want to get ready.
I have been working on hitting a lot
and just seeing (the ball) and having
fun. When I have fun, I do well....
I love it when there's pressure, when
the bases are loaded, when I have two
strikes on me, when there's two out. I
like the challenge. I like to be in that
She finished the weekend with
its in five of her six at-bats and was
responsible for five RBI.
By the time sophomore Alessan-
dra Giampaolo's fifth-inning RBI
single ended the game 9-1 because
of the run-rule, Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins had already replaced
Ritter - who got the win - with
freshman Stacy Delaney.
Despite being eliminated from the
race for a regular-season Big Ten
Championship by Northwestern's win
over Illinois Saturday night, Hutchins
said her game plan for yesterday's
game did not change and that she

Don't give up on
the champs yet

This past weekend, the Northwest-
ern softball team clinched the Big
Ten championship.
It was pretty much a foregone conclu-
sion after two weekends ago,
when the Wildcats split a
doubleheader with Michigan
in Ann Arbor. Barring a dra-
matic Northwestern collapse
down the stretch - whichn
didn't occur - it meant for
the first time in more than a
decade, a team not named
Michigan or Iowa would win
a regular-season Big Ten title.
Good for Northwestern. S
Better for Michigan.E
Wait, better for Michigan? Too
How is coming up short in
the team's quest for a Big Ten
three-peat good for the defending national
All season long, Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins has repeated that this year's
teamis not last year's team. The roster
may be similar and the uniforms may
look the same, but just like in any other
sport, the makeup of every team changes
each year - even if it is just ever so
On the surface, this year's team lost
just two contributors from its national-
championship squad a year ago. And
even though seniors Jessica Merchant and
Nicole Motycka were both very decorated
Wolverine athletes, it was the contribu-
tions of the underclassmen that brought

Michigan over the hump in Oklahoma
City lastJune.
Whether it was clutch home runs from
Becky Marx or Stephanie Bercaw to
keep the Wolverines alive
in their quest for a first
ever national title, a timely
strikeout from aceJennie
Ritter - who single hand-
edly threw more pitches
than half of the teams in
the College World Series
- or the homer that came
off the bat of Samantha
Findlay and sent Michigan
COTT fans into a frenzy, the core
BELL contributions came from
Soon? people who are still on this
year's team.
But even though most
of the main cast returned for an encore
performance this year,the confidence and
fearlessness last season's Wolverines had
didn't show up on a consistent basis most
of this season.
Whether it was a lack of leadership
on the fieldlack of confidence after los-
ing games early in the season or just an
inability to deal with high expectations,
Hutchins was right: This year's team
wasn't the same as last season's.
But maybe Northwestern's title is
exactly what Michigan needed.
Sure, it sucks to not reach a goal.
Clearly, a defending national champ
should expect to win its conference
See BELL, page 15

Samantha Findlay went 5-for-6 with five RBI against Michigan State this weekend.

wanted to get Delaney some work,
as long, as it didn't interfere with her
main objective - winning.
While Findlay was making her
Sam's Club fans happy, Ritter took
the Wal-Mart approach in the circle
over the weekend - taking out her
opponents. The Dexter native started
and won both games. In game one,
she pitched a complete game and
allowed just one run on two hits and
struck out 12.
"I thought Jennie Ritter was classic
Jennie Ritter today," Michigan State
coach Jacquie Joseph said. "She had
complete command of her pitches.
... I just thought she really demon-
strated today why she's the champion
that she is."
In the opener, junior Tiffany Wor-
thy and senior Stephanie Bercaw hit
back-to-back home runs in the sixth
inning to break open a 1-1 deadlock
and secure another Ritter win. Senior
Grace Leutele also went 4-for-4 in
the win.
Ritter's starts this weekend were her
sixth and seventh straight in as many
Michigan games. Although Hutchins

alternated between Ritter and junior
Lorilyn Wilson earlier in the season,
she implied that she would continue
to ride Ritter's arm during the post-
season, which will begin next week
when the second-seeded Wolverines
once again face off against the Spar-
tans. Michigan is riding a five-game
winning streak against Michigan
State. The two teams will meet next


GRANDCHAMPIONI fornia State Uiverliy San Marcos
PERCAPITA CLAssic Oregon State University
WASE MINIATIo: Point Loma Nazarene University
Targeted Materials
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CORiUGATED CARD oAM California State University n Marcos
BOTTLS&CAN= RhodeIslandSchoolofDesign
FooD SmEice ORGomcs Middlebury College
Catch the Mania!
UM placed 20th out of 87 schools in the per capita classic,
recycling 31.06 lbs. Per person living on campusi

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