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May 16, 2011 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-16

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Monday, May 16, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

11

Wolverines set to host NCAA Regional as No.10 seed

By EMILY BONCHI
Daily Sports Writer
The No.2 Michigan softballteam
has officially arrived at the most rig-
orous part of its journey in hoping to
reach the Women's College World
Series for the 10th time in program
history.
"The most exciting thing we do is
play in the NCAA tourney," Michi-
gan coach Carol Hutchins said to
her team after the announcement
Sunday night. "Nobody's ranking
matters. Now we play. The team that
plays the best wins."
The Wolverines were announced
as the No. 10 overall seed during
Sunday night's NCAA Selection
Show, set to host the Ann Arbor
Regional this weekend.
"I predicted somewhere between
seven and 11," Hutchins said. "And
I don't care - I don't. The ranking
doesn't matter, we've seen that the
last three years (when) we've been

ranked in the top eight."
The Wolverines (18-2 Big Ten,
51-4 overall) will welcome three
familiar teams to Ann Arbor, as
the double-elimination playoff
series begins Friday. Kentucky and
Notre Dame will be the first to take
the field, followed by Michigan -
matched up against in-state rival
Western Michigan.
The Wolverines have already met
the Fighting Irish (March 19) and
Broncos (April 12) this season, tak-
ing the games 9-4 and 6-1, respec-
tively. But a lot has happened since
then, and Hutchins looks to make
sure Michigan stays consistent.
"We just have to continue what
we've been doing, we don't have to
do anything different," Hutchins
said. "You always look at the brack-
et, see who you're with and who
you're paired up against. It's really
difficult to get to the World Series
because the top 16 is brutal."
She added: "I think it's a tough

regional, period."
Even as the final highlight reel
was playing on the big screen,
the Michigan coaching staff was
already collecting statistics on this
weekend's opponents.
Kentucky (14-9 SEC, 36-14) heads
to Ann Arbor after a tough loss to
Tennessee, the eventual confer-
ence champion, in the quarterfinals
of the SEC championship. But the
Wildcats have several big wins on
their resume, including a midseason
sweep of No. 3 Florida in April.
Notre Dame has been a con-
stant postseason opponent for the
Wolverines, as Michigan has been
matched up against the Fighting
Irish the past four seasons. Notre
Dame (19-1 Big East, 45-9) dropped
games to both Michigan and West-
ern Michigan this season, but went
on a 14-game tear in its last 15 games
of the season.
And the Wolverines' first oppo-
nent - the Broncos - earned an

at-large bid after winning the 2011
MAC Tournament title for the first
time since 2003. Western Michigan
(14-6 MAC, 25-28) claimed both the
MAC regular-season and tourna-
ment titles in the same season for
the first time in program history.
This is the 10th consecutive sea-
son that Michigan has hosted the
NCAA Regionals in 'Ann Arbor,
meaning the fourth straight home
series for this year's senior class.
"We've been blessed to be able to
host for four straight years," senior
first baseman Dorian Shaw said.
"We've got a great facility, and I
honestly think that when other
teams come in and play at Michigan
they're lucky to get to play at our
field, because our field is so nice and
our stands are always full."
Hutchins added: "(The crowd)
sure makes me fired up. I hope that
it's to our advantage - it certainly
could be. But they're not going to
pitch for us and they're not going to

hit for us, so we've got to give them
something to cheer about."
Just two other Big Ten teams,
Indiana and Penn State, join the
Wolverines in the tournament's
64-team pool. Michigan is the only
team in its conference to hold a
NCAA Championship title.
"I did my homework - I'm dis-
appointed in it, but that reflects our
seeding," Hutchins said of the lack
of Big Ten teams. "Our schedule
this year was lighter at the .front
end, more than I cared for it to be, so
that's the way it is. But we did what
we could do, we won the games that
we were supposed to win, so I think
we're in good shape."
The Wolverines will be gearing
up for postseason play this week as
the tournament starts Friday night.
Kentucky and Notre Dame will kick
off the evening at 5:30 p.m. followed
by Michigan and the Broncos at
8:00 p.m. Both games will be aired
on ESPN.

'M' sweeps Spartans to clinch fourth straight Big Ten title

By EMILY BONCHI
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan softball team's
senior class is four-for-four with Big
Tentitles.
After sweeping Michigan State
this weekend, forcing the mercy
rule to take'
each game MSU 0
in the home- MICHIGAN 8
and-home
series 8-0, MICHIGAN 8
8-0, the sec- MSU 0
ond-ranked
Wolverines earned their fourth
straight conference title. After beat-
ing the Spartans on Senior Night on
Friday, Michigan was only guaran-
teed a share of the title.
"We're all kind of caught up in
wanting to win a Big Ten champion-
ship," senior first baseman Dorian
Shaw said. "That's what this game is
about, it's not about the seniors.
"We still have to play Michigan
State just like the sophomores and
the juniors and the freshmen do
too."
And they did, earning their 17th
run-rule decision of the season -
Michigan's sixth in Big Ten play.
On Saturday, Michigan (18-2 Big
Ten, 51-4 overall) played in front
of a sold-out crowd - for the sec-
ond day in a row - but this time in
East Lansing. Michigan coach Carol

Hutchi:
looked
confere
Indiana
in the c
"I q
- my
ever -
word 'c
"They'v
care of'
to let up
"I
(th
'Co
'C
And:
igan ha
ignited
ter Mar
left fiek
tained a
gan's g
May 8,1
Powers
Bree Ev
set off a
second 1

ns, a former Spartan herself, team-leading 17th home run of the
to lead her team to a solo season to add three more runs to the
nce title. A loss would allow inning. Michigan State (6-14, 27-27)
to force a tie for first place didn't close out the inning until the
onference. Wolverines were ahead, 7-0.
luoted Bo (Schembechler) "You can't ask for much more
favorite Michigan coach than this from our team," senior
(that) there's no 'co' in the pitcher Jordan Taylor said. "We
hampion,' " Hutchins said. came out firing and we just did real-
e got to go up there and take ly well. It's good to know that we're
business. I don't want them firing on all cylinders as we head
, and I know they won't." into the postseason."
Taylor had a night of her own,
owning the rubber for two days
in a row to dominate the Spartan
quoted Bo offense. She tossed her second no-
hitter of the season improving to
at) there's no 29-3 on the season.
"Jordan was phenomenal," Shaw
' n the word said. "You can't ask for much more
from a senior than that kind of per-
harnpion.'" formance.
Junior third baseman Amanda
Chidester also added to Michigan's
effort with a 3-for-3 performance to
the Wolverines didn't. Mich- increase her team-leading batting
d an explosive second inning, average to .492, She also notched
by senior designated hit- four RBI on the series to lead her
ley Powers. After freshman team with 72 so far this year. Pow-
der Nicole Sappingfield sus- ers hit a two-out bases-loaded single
:n injury atthe end of Michi- in the fourth to push Shaw across
name against Minnesota on home plate and give the Wolver-
the lineup was shuffled and ines the run-rule lead. The Spar-
started. Junior center fielder tans threatened in the bottom of
ans followed with a triple to the inning with two runners on, but
Wolverine rally. Sophomore a lineout to sophomore shortstop
baseman AshleyLane hit her Amy Knapp kept Taylor's 11th shut-

SAKAH SQUIRE/uaily
Senior pitcher Jordan Taylor threw a no-hitter Sunday in her 41st career shutout.
out of the season secure, making the less game, strikingout13 Spartans to
weekend a real team effort. match her season high. She allowed
"I feel just having confidence just one hit - a chopper over first
within our team and having con- base - in the top of the fourth. The
fidence in each other will help us Wolverines used a big third inning
continue to play Michigan softball," to break the game open. Freshman._
Powers said. left fielder Lindsay Doyle - who
Friday night honored the team's stepped up to take Sappingfield's
seniors and it was those players who place in the number two slot - led
led the team for the first game of the off the inning with a single to short.
series - this time in front of a sold Several batters later, Michigan
out Ann Arbor crowd. took a 5-0 lead that would only go up
Taylor threw yet another score- from there, leading to an 8-0 final.

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