Monday, May 12, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thrice as nice: 'M' dominates Big Ten
By JASON KOHLER
Daily Sports Writer
The No. 19 Michigan baseball
team clinched the Big Ten regular-
season title yesterday. With four
games to spare.
While the Michigan players
spilled out of the dugout to celebrate
the 12-8 win, which completed
a sweep over Minnesota and the
program's third straight conference
championship, Wolverine coach
Rich Maloney quietly walked across
the field to shake hands with leg-
endary Minnesota coach and friend
"The classy guy that he is, he con-
gratulated us," Maloney said. "We
respect each other far more than the
baseball game itself."
No trophy presentation for Malo-
ney. Just a handshake.
But this year's championship is a
little more special than the previous
two. It's the first time in the stretch
Michigan (23-4 Big Ten, 38-11 over-
all) clinched the title before the last
weekend of the regular season.
"I don't know if it has really sunk
in yet because we've been planning
and expecting to win all year," Pow-
ers said. "But to go out every year
that I've been playing and come
home with three championships -
it's something you don't see every-
day in the Big Ten."
The Wolverines have already tied
the mark for most conference wins
in program history and are just two
wins from tyingthe Big Ten record.
"We're having one of the best
seasons in the history ofthe league,"
Maloney said. "And that's really
special considering all the great
coaches and players that have been
in this league."
The Wolverines swept the Gold-
en Gophers (8-19, 18-33) without
starting pitcher and designated hit-
ter Zach Putnam, who is recovering
from a severe case of strep throat.
"Do we want Zach in the lineup?
Are you kidding me? No question,"
Maloney said. "But the flip side of it
is, the guys went to Minnesota and
just took three from them. A lot of
guys really stepped up"
One of the players who came up
big was sophomore Mike Dufek,
who until Tuesday, had yet to homer
as a Wolverine.
This week he has blasted three
over the fence, including a crucial
grand slam to center field in the
sixth inning of the first game of yes-
Dufek was also key in a six-run
ninth, adding an RBI single that
propelled Michigan to an 11-5 win.
The Scottsdale, Ariz. native con-
tinued his hot streak in the second
game, blasting another home run
and driving in two more runs.
"I had an opportunity to be in
there day in, day out this week,"
Dufek said. "Every time you see
pitching on a consistent basis, you
definitely start to get into a groove
and see the ball better."
To cap everything off, Dufek
pitched two innings of relief to earn
the save. Dufek fanned three batters
See BASEBALL, Page 15 Sophomore Mike Dufek hit his first three career home runs this week.
Blue aims beyond Big Tens
Wolverines poised to
contend at Big Tens
Senior second baseman Samantha Findlay's leadership and enthusiasm has the
Michigan softball team ready for a run to the Women's College World Series.
Michigan wins the region, they will
also host the Super Regional.
Thursday's loss was a matter of
confidence, and the Wolverines
simply couldn't find theirs. Their
usually' potent offense and solid
pitching failed to pull through. And
in the single-elimination tourna-
ment, all it took was one loss and
Michigan boarded the bus looking
But the good news is the Wolver-
ines can look ahead to double-elim-
ination tournaments all the way to
Oklahoma City. Michigan has yet
to register back-to-back losses this
season, a feat accomplished just
one other time in program history
- the 2005 National Championship
"Every kid on this team is capa-
ble and has all the confidence we
need them to have," Hutchins said.
"They need to trust it. Trust and
confidence are the most important
things we have going into the Tour-
Heading into its opening-round
game against Wright State on Fri-
day, Michigan has the intangibles
of a top team.
Turn to pitching, and the num-
bers speak for themselves.
The duo of freshman Jordan .
Taylor (27-3) and sophomore Nikki
See SOFTBALL, Page 15
By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
Inlastyear'smen'strack and field
Big Ten Championships, Michigan
came in second in the 4x100-meter
relay. The team of then-redshirt
sophomore Shakir Edwards, then-
senior Jeff Porter and then-sopho-
Barnes 1 See a photo
Adam this article
ished more than half a second
This year, the Wolverines could
flip that result.
At day two of the non-scoring
Len Paddock Invitational in Ann
Arbor, the Michigan coaching staff
spiced things up by putting Barnes
in the second leg and fifth-year
senior Stann Waithe in the third.
The move resulted in a first-
place finish with a time that
would've topped the Badgers by
more than half a second at last
year's Big Tens.
"Obviously it appeared to make
a difference, as we ran almost five-
tenths of a second faster," Michi-
gan associate head coach Fred
LaPlante said through the Athletic
Department. "I know that the guys
are really excited. We have a strong
team, we just weren't hitting the
markswe thought we were capable
of hitting, so it worked well."
Michigan's time, good enough
to qualify for the NCAA Regional,
is the best in the conference and
fifth fastest in the region. In just
its second time running the relay
together this season, the team fell
just .28 seconds away from the
Redshirt sophomore Chris Bald-
win took fourth place in the pole
vault with a career-best 15 feet
And after winning the 400-
meter hurdles last week in Colum-
bus, redshirt junior Dan Harmsen
ran the second-fastest time of his
career (51.19 seconds) to finish sec-
ond in that event.
"It was a good race for Harm-
sen," LaPlante said through the
Athletic Department. ,
After he set a personal record
See TRACK, Page 15
By RUTH LINCOLN
A first-round exit from a con-
ference tournament might fluster
many of the nation's top teams.
But the No. 6 Michigan softball
team, which lost to Michigan State
2-1 in Evanston, isn't going to let
Thursday's upset get in the way of
its bigger goals - like hosting its
eighth-straight regional tourna-
ment this weekend and reaching
the Women's College World Series
for the first time since 2005.
"We're going to get over the
loss and move forward," Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins said. "We
have much more important things
This team has too much deter-
mination to dwell on a tournament
that Hutchins referred to as "the
least importantwe play all year."
Even without claiming the Big
Ten Title, Michigan (18-3 Big Ten,
48-6 overall) secured itself an at-
large bid in the 64-team NCAA
Tournament. As a No. 4-seed, the
Wolverines will play Wright State in
the Ann Arbor region that includes
Notre Dame and Kent State. If