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June 04, 2012 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2012-06-04
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Monday, June 4, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Reviewing the 2012 Michigan softball season

Monday, June 4, 2012
The Michizan Dailv - michieandailvscom

'U' to develop sporting
event loytprogram

Daily Sports Editor
Now that the Michigan softball
team's season is over, it's time to
take a look back and mention some
highlights of the year.
BEST WIN: May 20, 4-0 over
It may be easy to call the Wol-
verines' NCAA Regional-winning
victory their best win of the season,
but take a look at the box score and
you'll see why.
For starters, Michigan's pitching
was dominating. Freshman lefty
Haylie Wagner - who had already
pitched two complete games in the
Regional - made it three consecu-
tive starts in the circle in the May
20 game against the Cardinals.
Wagner went the full six innings,
giving up six hits, no earned runs
and walked just one batter. The
Orange, Calif. native also picked up
her 32nd win of the season, pushing
her past former ace Jordan Taylor
for the most wins by a freshman in
a season.
The Wolverines' offense was also
stellar in the victory over the Car-
dinals, scoring their four runs on
eight hits and drawing five walks.
Seniors Bree Evans and Amanda
Chidester both went 2-for-3 on the
day, and junior Ashley Lane con-
tributed two RBIs.
But the reason behind their suc-
cess was what Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins calls "one-pitch

softball." Hutchins has been
preaching patience at the plate and
playing one-pitch softball - both
at bat and in the circle - all season,
and she finally saw a well-rounded
game by her team in the Regional
championship game.
"I thought our kids were brilliant
in one area in particular, and it was
one-pitch softball," Hutchins said
after the May 20 win. "We harped
on that all day. We told them before
the game, don't worry about wheth-
er we get (a win), just worry about
one pitch."
WORST LOSS: April 11, 1-0 to
Western Michigan.
The Wolverines were in the
midst of a 5-1 start to Big Ten play
when they played the midweek
game against the Broncos.
The squad was used to blowing
through its conference schedule
and taking down weaker noncon-
ference opponents, so it figured its
game against Western Michigan
would be a breeze.
But with a stalling offense,
Hutchins was not pleased with
what she saw that Wednesday eve-
"They just thought they were
going to walk in here and show up
because they have Michigan on
their chest," Hutchins said after
the April 11 loss. "We got what we
The game against the Broncos
was a wake-up call for the Wolver-
ines, pointing out to the squad that

they were not invincible and they
would have to work hard and come
prepared to play for each and every
game the rest of the season.
over Eastern Michigan.
After faltering a bit in confer-
ence play - Michigan lost four of
six Big Ten games to Minnesota
and Illinois - the squad rallied in
extra innings to beat the Eagles and
began an offensive hot streak for
the team.
Freshman Sara Driesenga hit a
walk-off, two-run home run in the
bottom of the ninth inning to cap
the 4-2 victory over Eastern Michi-
gan. Six Wolverines recorded a hit,
and the win launched an eight-
game win streak for the squad, right
when the team needed it the most.
"We just decided May 1 we start
over," Hutchins said after the victo-
ry. "Reboot. It doesn't matter what
we've done in the past."
Michigan would go on to sweep
Wisconsin and Purdue, clinching
its fifth-consecutive Big Ten title,
and win the Louisville Regional in
the NCAA Tournament.
Chidester and Driesenga.
The senior first baseman and the
freshman designated player both
had outstanding years at the plate.
Chidester led the team in bat-
ting average (.347), runs scored (37),
doubles (12), RBIs (46) and slugging
percentage (.597) and was named
the Big Ten's Player of the Year,
making her the Wolverines' most
potent power hitter.
The Allen Park, Mich. native had
a 25-game on-base streak in the
heart of the season, and became
one of two Wolverines to break the
200 RBI mark when she hit a home
run against Alabama in the NCAA
Super Regional.
But Driesenga was the Wolver-
ines' offensive weapon for most of
conference and post-season play.
The freshman was slotted as the
desginated player in the March 21
matchup against Eastern Michi-
gan, and with a two-run homer that
game, she found herself a perma-
nent spot in the lineup.
After that game, Driesenga
improved her batting average to
.340, good for second-best on the
team, and proved that pitchers
can be offensive weapons, too. Her
34-game on-base streak was the
longest by a Wolverine all season
and hit the walk-off double against
Kentucky to begin NCAA Regional

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After being rotated around the
infield for much of the nonconfer-
ence schedule, Kirkpatrick found
her home at third base. Though the
senior may not have had the perfect
season, she came through when the
team needed her most.
In the NCAA Regional, Kirkpat-
rick had a few nice snags in the hot
corner, preventing some hard-hit
balls from turning into singles and
potential runs.
"Tremendous defense from
(Michigan)," said Louisville coach
Sandy Pearsall after the May'20
matchup. "They made some very,
very tough plays. Some of those hits
would've gone through (and) fallen
in. The third basemin, diving off
the backhand - great play."
Kirkpatrick's stellar defense in
the three Regional games helped
the Wolverines advance to the
NCAA Super Regional and was
some of the best softball played in
the hot corner in Michigan's post-
season run.
lie Wagner.
Hands down the easiest pick.
Though there were only four fresh-
men on the team - catchers Becca
Garfinkel and Lauren Sweet, and
pitchers Driesenga and Wagner -
the left-hander had the best season
by far.
Wagner set the Michigan soft-
ball program record for most fresh-

man wins (32), was named Big Ten
Freshman and Pitcher of the Year,
and led the conference in wins and
earned run average at the end of the
regular season.
The Orange, Calif. native earned
all three Regional victories for the
Wolverines, where she pitched
three complete games and gave up
just three runs, and pitched both
games (and losses) against Alabama
in the NCAA Super Regional.
Simply put, Wagner was the ace
in the circle for Michigan this sea-
MVP: Wagner again.
For the same reasons Wagner is
Michigan's Rookie of the Year, the
freshman is also the team's Most
Valuable Player.
The left-handed hurler put up
absurdly good numbers for a fresh-
man - numbers comparable to Jor-
dan Taylor's freshman year. Now,
Taylor is a member of USA Softball
- something Wagner could be a
part of if she continues her success.
Though the Wolverines had
another rookie in the circle - right-
hander Driesenga - it was Wagner
who dominated. And though you
could make a case for Chidester to
be MVP, Michigan's offense wasn't
consistent throughout the season
and Chidester's year wasn't as good
as previous seasons. In addition,
pitching was reliable in most games
and often times the Wolverines
would have to ride Wagner's arm in
order to win tight games.

Attending sporting students who support their
school's teams.
events could earn At MSU, the Izzone is a
16-year-old program that
better seats rewards the most loyal basket-
ball fans. Students who buy sea-
By STEVE ZOSKI son tickets to MSU basketball
Daily News Editor games wait in line before each
game outside the Breslin Student
With the Big House, the Events Center to have their stu-
nation's winningest college foot- dent identification cards checked
ball team, - a notoriously vocal at the doors. When their cards
hockey student section and a are scanned, the time they enter
basketball team that's qualified the arena is recorded.
for the NCAA Tournament the How early students arrive at
last two years, the University is games and how many games stu-
still looking for ways to increase dents attend determine whether
student-fan loyalty for its athlet- they sit in the general student
ics. section or are allowed into one
On Tuesday, Ann Arbor. of two Izzone sections the next
com reported that the athlet- year.
ic department is considering Students who earn seats in one
implementing a student loyalty Izzone section get to sit closer to
program that would reward stu- the action. A second Izzone sec-
dents for attending University tion is further from the court
sporting events. but allows students to have their
In an interview with The seats saved.
Michigan Daily, David Ablauf, Dan DiMaggio, director of the
associate athletic director for MSU student alumni founda-
media and public relations, said tionsaid seating is based only on
the Athletic Department is in the a student's attendance at home
early stages of developing a loy- games of the previous year. He
alty program. added that class standing and
"We don't really have all the attendance from other years
details fleshed out for the student doesn't matter.
loyalty program," Ablauf said. "If you're a junior and you go
He explained that the Athletic to only a couple of games, and
Department would like to imple- there's a freshman or sophomore
ment the undefined program by that went to all of the games, that
this fall. younger student kind of bumps
"I think our timetable is to the senior ... it's purely on an
have something implemented by attendance basis," DiMaggio
this upcoming athletic academic said.
year," Ablauf said. "We're just For select University basket-
trying to put a lot of the details ball games at Crisler Arena, stu-
together right now, because this dents who have attended more
cycle right now - June, July, games get to sit closer to the
August - is basically our plan- court. However, this only applies
ning months." to one or two games each year.
Ablauf said the Athletic- Maize Rage is a student-run
Department has been vocal about organization that has a lim-
having as many students attend ited amount of reserved seats at
sporting events as possible, and Crisler that are close to the court.
he added that the students who Recent graduate Sam
already go to many games should Sedlecky, the president of Maize
be rewarded. Rage last year, said the MSU
"We have quite a few students game was the only game where
that go to a lot of the sporting 2011 season attendance had an
events, and so (we) kind of want effect on seating.
to reward a lot of that loyalty by "Everyone's tickets were
those students," Ablauf said. tracked, and the people that
Other universities, like Michi- had been to the most amount of
gan State University, have exist- games got the best seats. So if you
ing loyalty programs that reward had gone to all of them, you're

almost guaranteed a bleacher
seat," Sedlecky said.
But Sedlecky said such a pro-
cedure is not the norm.
"(Maize Rage) has a list of tun-
nel access for just a very small
number of our people, so we get
in a little bit before the doors
open to the public," he said. "And
once the doors open it's general
admission seating for students."
Sedlecky added that he thinks
the policy used for most basket-
ball games is unfair to the more
dedicated fans.
"It's not fair to those people
that have been to every single
game and are the best fans and
the loudest fan ... maybe they
have an exam or something
and can only get there an hour
beforehand and are stuck in the
upper deck," he said.
Sedlecky added that he hopes
to see the Athletic Department
institute a loyalty program for all
sports, also pointing out students
who show up late to football
games as a reason a loyalty pro-
gram would be useful.
"The student section might be
halfway full by midway through
the first quarter (or) even at the
end of the first quarter," Sedlecky
said. "Generally it's not all the
way filled up until maybe mid-
second quarter - it's somewhat
University alum Jeff Hol-
zhausen, the founder of Maize
Rage and the original "Super-
fan," said student involvement
is dependent on the talent of the
team, adding that he understands
not every game will be exciting,
but he thinks it is important for
students to show support at all
"There's going to be games
that just don't generate as much
excitement, but part of being
a student is just the game-day
experience," Holzhausen said.
Holzhausen said he thinks
the Michigan athletic tradi-
tion should be enough to keep
students attending games, but
rewarding students couldn't
"I don't think students should
need a kick in the ass, but if the
athletic department can think of
creative ideas to get people there
early, have at it."

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