Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Michigan loses heartbreaker
By STEVEN BRAID
Daily Sports Writer
The stage was set for a Big Ten
Tournament title for the Michigan
women's tennis team.
The 10th-ranked Wolverines
were playing on their home courts,
fresh off of their second consecu-
tive Big Ten regular-season cham-
pionship. They sailed through the
conference slate with a perfect 10-0
record and cruised through their
first two rounds of action in the
Big Ten Tournament, beating both
Minnesota and Ohio State by 4-0
And even with cloudy skies,
whirling winds and a light drizzle,
a packed crowd was gathered to
watch Michigan take on its rival No.
17 Northwestern in the tournament
But after taking a dominant 3-0
lead against the Wildcats, Michigan
stumbled and collapsed as North-
western clawed its way back to
defeat the Wolverines 4-3 and win
the Big Ten Tournament title.
"It's a tough one, for sure, to
swallow," Michigan coach Ronni
Bernstein said. "We won a really
close doubles point, won two sin-
gles, (and) got up 3-0. You got four
matches there and you hope you can
pull one out."
The inclement weather seemed
to be an ominous sign for the Wol-
verines. All three doubles teams got
off to rocky starts and faced deficits
late in their matches. Michigan also
faced an early hole after freshman
Sam Critser and senior Mimi Nguy-
en lost a contested match 8-6.
But the Wolverines' fortunes
appeared to turn. Seniors Whitney
Taney and Rika Tatsuno wheeled
off four straight games to win their
Senior Denise Muresan and
freshman Brooke Bolender climbed
back from a 6-4 deficit to tie their
match at 7-7.
Muresan and Bolender soon
took control of their match, as their
Northwestern counterparts unrav-
Muresan and Bolender's valiant
effort paid off as they won their
match 9-7, giving the Wolverines
confidence and a 1-0 lead over the
Micligan seemed primed to end
Northwestern's 12-year reign as Big
Ten Tournament champions after
Taney and Tastuno both breezed
through their singles matches, 6-0,
6-0 and 6-1, 6-3, respectively. But
just as the sun started to shine, so
did Northwestern's confidence.
Nguyen and Critser were both
ousted in straight sets. The one-set
advantages that both Bolender and
Muresan possessed in their match-
es vanished and gave way to doubt,
as both players lost in three sets.
"We just, mentally and physi-
cally, were not in those third sets,"
Bernstein said. "I think physically
they were a little bit better today at
"They had more gas in the tank
and (were) just way more positive.
You've got to be strong mentally to
pull out matches like that."
After dominating the first set
with powerful groundstrokes and
consistent serves, No. 7 Muresan
began to lose her composure after
falling behind early in the second
set to No. 13 Maria Mosolova.
Following a half-hearted come-
back, Muresan's emotions took
over. She sprayed several unforced
errors and earned herself two rack-
et-throwing violations on her way
to a disheartening6-2,3-6,1-6 loss.
But there was still hope for the
Wolverines. Bolender battled to a
2-1 lead in the third set against fel-
low freshman Belinda Niu, beau-
tifully finishing off points at the
net. But even as Niu appeared to be
fatigued, she found the strength to
overpower Bolender and win the
next five games for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
victory, setting off a frenzied cel-
ebration by the Wildcats.
"Hand it to Northwestern," Ber-
nstein said. "They took the match.
They were willing to be more
aggressive and that's the way you're
going to win the match. They did it
and we didn't."
Bernstein remained optimis-
tic for her team, suggesting that
the loss could make Michigan that
much more stronger as they prepare
for a deep run in the NCAA Tourna-
"They're disappointed," Bern-
stein said. "They wanted to do this,
especially on their home courts
(and) in front of our crowd.
"But we're going to learn from it
and hopefully we'll be stronger in
these situations and be able to them
out. Maybe this could be a good
Taylor carries 'M' to
sweep of Wisconsin
By MATT SLOVIN baseman Amanda Chidester,
Daily Sports Writer followed suit, poking a single
through a gap to give the Wolver-
While fans were still trick- ines a 2-1 lead. With Taylor on the
ling into Goodman Diamond in mound looking like her usual self,
Madison for Sunday's series finale the one-run cushion would be all
between the Michigan softball that Michigan would need. Wis-
team and Wisconsin, Michigan consin managed just two more
coach Carol hits the rest of the way, eventually
Hutchins MICHIGAN 9 going down in order in the seventh
was already WISCONSIN 1 inning.
making "I'm definitely back to 100
changes to MICHIGAN 2 percent," Taylor said. "I'm really
her lineup WISCONSIN 1 excited to come back."
card. For Taylor, whether she is start-
Sophomore Stephanie Speier- ing or coming out of the bullpen,
man, tapped by Hutchins as the the approach is similar.
starter, used up her very short "I've always felt comfortable
leash early, retiring just one batter going into games (in relief)," Tay-
and allowing two to reach before lor said. " It's not too much of a
being replaced. different mindset - just always
It was a move that would prove attacking the batter and going
to be fruitful for the Wolverines, after them."
as senior hurler Jordan Taylor - Abusy week awaits Michigan as
fresh off an injury - prevented it returns home to Alumni Field.
any further Badger offense after On Tuesday, Eastern Michigan
the first-inning run charged to provides a respite from the rigors
Speierman. After routing Wiscon- of conference play for the Wol-
sin on Saturday, 9-1; Taylor and verines before the Big Ten slate
No. 2 Michigan (12-2 Big Ten, 44-4 resumes Wednesday with a double
overall) escaped with a 2-1 vic- header against Ohio State.
tory in the series finale. Saturday's Despite the Eagles being win-
win marked Hutchins' 1,200th at less against Big Ten opponents this
Michigan and allowed the Wol- season, Hutchins doesn't expect
verines to remain in hot pursuit of anything less than her team's best.
Big Ten leader Indiana, who swept "(Eastern) is a chance to com-
Iowa to maintain its narrow first- pete and wear the Michigan jer-
place margin. In the series opener, sey," Hutchins said. "I hope they'll
Michigan cruised to a victory, uti- be psyched about it."
lizing a seven-run fourth inning to And though the Buckeyes
defeat Wisconsin (6-10, 26-21). bring up the rear in the Big Ten
After the rocky first inning, both standings, no opponent is to be
pitchers began rolling through the overlooked this late in the season
opposing lineup and the game by Michigan. Just seven games
seemed like a pitchers' dual, with remain on the schedule, and any
the Badgers leading 1-0 heading losses from here on out will be
into the fifth. But that's when the judged particularly harsh by the
Wolverine offense finally man- NCAA selection committee before
aged to get to Wisconsin starter it unveils the regional matchups
Cassandra Darrah. Consecutive on May 15.
singles from freshman right field- "The bottom line is it doesn't
er Lyndsay Doyle, who went 3-for- matter where anybody is ranked,"
3 on the day, and junior center Hutchins said. "Ohio State's a
fielder Bree Evans put Michigan very dangerous team. They are
in prime position to tie the game. very athletic. They have a lot of
And streaking senior Alycia Ryan really fine players. They're in our
did just that, ripping a base hit up way."
the middle, scoring Doyle. Despite the Wolverines' sure
"(Doyle's) done a nice job inclusion in the field of 64, the
all year in the nine position," luxury of hosting tournament
Hutchins said. "She helps us turn games in Ann Arbor and earning
the lineup over. She's a great ath- a top seed is one that is yet to be
lete, and she's dore a nice job for secured. But with Taylor back, it
us." appears Michigan maybe ready to
The next batter, junior third battle for the conference crown.
Senior Whitney Taney played with fellow senior teammate Rika Tatsuno in the final rounds of the Big Ten Tournament.