Monday, May 5, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Blue too focusedfor late-season slump
ast season, the Michigan
baseball team had all but
clinched the regular-season
Big Ten cham-
almost a month
to play before the .
But then, it
games to lowly ANDY
Illinois, ateam REID
should have easily swept but seem-
The team's first non-winning
conference series of the year was
brushed off as an isolated incident.
Michigan still had a commanding
lead over the rest of the Big Ten.
The next weekend, though,
another subpar foe, Penn State,
jumped on the Wolverines, winning
three straight games inAnn Arbor
and allowing Minnesota back in the
race for the conference crown.
Two weeks ago, then-last-place
Indiana stole two games from
Michigan. Those shocking upsets
left some fanswondering if the
Wolverines were headed down a
similar lackluster path.
Not so fast.
This year's Wolverines aren't
about to let alate-season skid ruin
their lofty goals. Just look at how
they bounced back from the dismal
performance in Bloomington.
Instead of the emotionless
performance Michigan turned
in against Penn State last year
- which delayed its regular-season
championship until the last week-
end of the year - the Wolverines
used solid pitching and offensive
prowess to outscore Ohio State 27-6
in four games. Although the Buck-
eyes took one game in Saturday's
doubleheader, the three wins gave
Michigan a one-and-a-half-game
lead over second-place Purdue.
Michigan coach Rich Maloney
attributes part of his team's added
focus to the 11-4 loss at Indiana.
See BASEBALL, Page 12
Junior Zach Putnam and the Wolverines had their 13-game regular-season winning streak against Ohio State snapped Saturday.
'M' gears up for Big Tens
" at Jesse Owens Classic
Coin toss clouds split title
By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
With just two weeks until the
Big Ten Outdoor Championships,
the Michigan men's track and field
team had to stay on the right course
at the Jesse Owens Classic over the
Despite windy conditions in
Columbus, the Wolverines posted
10 regional qualifying marks to keep
up a strong pace as the outdoor sea-
son comes to an end.
"I thought we had some pretty
good performances despite wind
and weather," Michigan coach Ron
Warhurst said. "We're looking for-
ward to getting some nice spring
weather here this weekend."
Saturday began with a dominate
Michigan showing in the 400-meter
dash as three Wolverines - fifth-
year senior Stann Waithe, senior
Andrew Wechter and junior Andre
Barnes - finished in the top five.
Redshirt junior Dan Harmsen
and junior Justin Switzer also stood
out to Warhurst.
Harmsen won the 400-meter
hurdles with a personal-best time
of 50.98 seconds. It was his second
regional qualifying time in the event
Switzer finished just .26 seconds
behind redshirt sophomore Sean
McNamara in the 1500-meter run
(3:47.60). Switzer, McNamara and
freshman Craig Forys all registered
regional qualifying times.
Junior standout Adam Harris
won the 200-meter dash (20.91) and
finished second in the 100-meter
dash (10.43). After his successful
weekend, Harris now has three
regional qualifying times in the 200
and four in the 100.
"He's been our key sprinter for
the last four weeks," Warhurst said.
Regardless of the triumphant
weekend, Warhurst believes his
team must become more consistent,
especially with the Big Ten Champi-
"When the weather's bad, its hard
to concentrate on trying to perform
well," Warhurst said. "If the weath-
er's bad in the Big Ten meet, you
have to concentrate and focus on
what you're tryingto do. This week's
got to be that type of focus."
Michigan's final tune up before
Big Tens will be this weekend when
it hosts the Len Paddock Invitational.
By RUTH LINCOLN
Daily Sports Writer
For the first time since its 2005
National Championship, the No.
6 Michigan softball team owns a
share of the Big Ten regular-sea-
son title after sweeping Penn State
in State Col-
lege, 2-0 (10
innings) Sat- '
urday and 3-0
winner's prize S. FINDLAY
- hosting the
Big Ten Tournament - won't go to
Instead, Michigan (18-2 Big Ten,
48-5 overall) will travel to Evan-
ston next weekend as the No. 2 seed
and co-Big Ten champion North-
western (18-2, 34-13) will host the
The Wolverines and Wildcats
were deadlocked in the conference
standings and split their two meet-
ings. To break the tie, acointosslast
week at the Big Ten headquarters
gave Northwestern hosting privi-
leges if the standings remained the
same after this weekend.
"We're going to the Big Ten tour-
nament," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "Whether we're
going to it or whether we're hosting
it, it's a tournament to be won. And
we need to go into it with that atti-
But to claim their 11th confer-
ence crown, the Wolverines had to
come out with their best at Nittany
Lion Field. And the wins didn't
Michigan was fighting for a
conference championship, and it
proved to be a battle with the Nit-
tany Lions (6-12, 34-22) needing
a win to secure a spot in the post-
The Wolverines broke a 10-
inning scoreless tie Saturday when
sisters Angela and Samantha Find-
layhit back-to-back solo home runs
to end Michigan's longest game of
Despite the low score, the Wol-
verines had their chances to bring in
runs. Like its split with Northwest-
ern last weekend, Michigan failed
to capitalize with runners in scoring
position, leaving 10 on base includ-
ing seven in the three extra innings.
Freshman pitcher Jordan Taylor
(27-2) relieved sophomore Nikki
Nemitz in the seventh inning after
Nemitz gave up a two-out triple to
Penn State's Sam Hovanec. Taylor
continued to hold the Nittany Lions
scoreless in the extra innings and
posted a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom
of the 10th after Michigan scored
its two runs.
Taylor had another solid per-
formance in Sunday's matchup.
Her stoic demeanor on the mound
kept the Penn State hitters in check
all afternoon. The Valencia, Calif
native struck out five and gave up
five hits in her 12th complete-game
shutout of the season.
"Jordan gave us every opportu-
nity to win as she continues to do
all year," Hutchins said.
And the Wolverines wasted little
time scoring Sunday.
In the second inning, freshman
first baseman Dorian Shaw belted
out a two-run home run about 40
feet past the fence in left-center
field to give Michigan a 2-0 lead.
Samantha Findlay added to the
lead inthe nextinning with her sec-
ond solo home run of the weekend.
The long ball was Findlay's 21st of
the season, which tied her own sin-
gle-season program record.
The Wolverines will host an
exhibition game against the U.S.
Olympic softball team Tuesday at