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March 21, 1991 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-21

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Page 10 -The Michigan Daily -Thursday, March 21,1991
Softballers optimistic
despite fatigue factor
by Ken Davidoff
Daily Sports Writer

Women swimmers
send 14 to NCAAs

Most students, if given a chance
to fly to California and miss two
days of class, would jump at the op-
portunity.
However, that number woulda
likely subside after being told it
would be necessary to play a mini-
mum of five softball games in four
days against the nation's top teams
while battling jet lag. Nevertheless,
the Michigan softball team is look-
ing forward to taking part in the Bud
Lite National Invitational this week-
end.
The Wolverines (8-5) open the
tournament tonight against No. 18
New Mexico, with whom they have
split two games this year. Friday,
they take on Missouri in a morning
game and No. 12 San Jose State in a
matinee. At this point, all the teams
will be placed in brackets based on
the performance in the three games,
and a double elimination format will
begin. The championship takes place
Sunday afternoon.
Although this is the major in-
season tournament for the squad, as-
sistant coach Carol Bruggeman
views it more as preparation for the
Big Ten season.
"Our first goal this weekend is to
improve at all of our skills," she
said. "There are a lot of good teams
out there; it will be a good compari-
son to see where we are on a na-
tional basis."
Senior pitcher Andrea Nelson
takes a different perspective, though.
"We're looking to win this tourna-
ment," she said. "We're in our sea-
son now, and we're concentrating on
winning. This is just as important
as the Big Ten."
The invitational, which is being
played in Sunnyvale, Cal., is chock
full of quality opponents, including
five other top 20 teams - Arizona
State, Iowa, California, Central
Michigan, and Massachusetts. Nel-
son, however, is not intimidated by
the presence of these powerhouse
teams.
"Rankings don't mean a lot," she
said. "On a given day, anybody can
beat anybody. I'm kind of glad we're
not in the rankings - there's no pres-
sure on us."

Nelson, who has a 3-1 record
with a 2.84 earned run average, is
expected to pitch a significant num-
ber of innings, along with rookie
Julie Clarkson, who stands at 2-1,
0.98.
The Wolverines, batting .257 as
a team, have a few offensive stand-
outs. Sophomore infielder Karla
Kunnen, who is hitting .333, paces
the team with 9 runs batted in, and
she has slugged the Wolverine's
only home run. Sophomore out-
fielder Patti Benedict leads the squad
at .351, while senior
catcher/outfielder Julie Cooper lends
speed to the team with six stolen
bases.
Another factor to consider is fa-
tigue from both the travelling and
the rigorous schedule.
"I don't look forward to the
flight," Nelson admitted. "But play-
ing the games is not bad at all."
"There's actually good and bad
(about playing so often)," Brugge-
man added. "If you're on a roll, you
get to keep on playing."

by Andy De Korte
Daily Sports Writer
By dominating the Big Ten Con-
ference, the Michigan women's
swimming team has been encouraged
to set goals higher than other squads.
While most schools concentrate on
dual meets during the regular season,
Michigan looks ahead toward the Big
Ten and NCAA Championships.
After grabbing its fifth consecu-
tive Big Ten Swimming and Diving
Championship over spring break,
much of Michigan's squad continued
preparing for the three-day NCAA
meet beginning today.
Twelve swimmers and two divers
will make the trip to Indianapolis.
Eight of the 12 swimmers qualified
for individual meets - the largest
number ever for seventh-ranked
Michigan.
That feat is made more remark-
able by the fact that the Wolverines
graduated four All-Americans last
year.
Referring to last year's seniors,
Richardson said, "We don't have the
individual points returning from last
year's (NCAA) meet. In order for us

The Michigan women's softball team is in action this weekend at the
Bud Light Invitational in Sunnyvale, Cal. The Wolverines will face a
strong field, including seven nationally ranked teams and intra-state rival
Central Michigan.

to break into the top 10, we will
need some outstanding perfo
mances."
Although last year's team was
senior-oriented, Michigan still re-
turns six All-Americans.
Top Wolverine backstroker, ju-
nior Lisa Anderson won the 200-yard
backstroke at the Big Ten meet, set-
ting-Michigan, conference meet, and
Big Ten records with a 1:59.70. She
also qualified for the NCAAs in th
100 back.
Another All-American junior,
Jennifer Love, who swam a 23.28 in
the 50 free at the conference meet to
set a Michigan record, will be joined
by Kathy Deibler and Karen Barneg
in the fight for the freestyle points.
Michigan's sophomore All.
American, Deibler, could prove cru-
cial to the team's cause, swimming
in both the 200 and 500 free. W
While Michigan may score no
points in the butterfly events, the
breaststrokers could be a highlight.
The rookie tandem of Tara Higgings,
the current Big Ten champion of
both the 100 and 200 breast, and Val
Hyduk, the second and third-place
finisher of the 100 and 200 breast
have the potential of picking up
huge points.
In the individual medley, th
Wolverines boast another two-event
qualifier. Sophomore Mindy Gehre
won the 200 IM at the conference
meet and also qualified for the 400
IM, where she will be joined by An-
derson.
Unlike last year, two divers quali-
fied to accompany the team to the
NCAAs. Juniors Lisa Cribari and
Margie Stoll earned NCAA bertl
by taking first and third, respec-
tively, with their performances last
weekend at the NCAA Zone C Div-
ing Meet in Columbus, OH.
Since 1987, the first year of his
current conference title win streak,
Richardson has held his team on
even keel at the NCAA meet, finish-
ing 10th, 8th, 6th(tie), and 7th. He
hopes to maintain the consistency
the highest level of competition, deg
spite the significant loss of the grad-
uates.
"For the seventh through 15th
spots, there are eight or nine teams
that are comparable," Richardson
said. "I would put us in that group."

Balancin. g

Gymnasts go from cellar
dwellers to contenders

by Andy Stabile
Daily Sports Writer
In sports, as in many other aspects of life,
the true measure of success comes from within
one's self. It is directly related with the self satis-
faction obtained from one's performance. So it is
with the Michigati women's gymnastics team.
By any measure, this season has already been
a success.
Just two years ago, the Wolverines were
perennial cellar dwellers in the Big Ten. Enter
coach Bev Fry. In her inaugural year, she led her
team from the bottom of the conference to re-
spectability. Now in her second year, the Wolver-
ines are in a group of five closely matched teams
that will contend for the championship.
Michigan finished the regular season unde-
feated in its four home meets - breaking a
school record for total team points scored each
time. The team also set a record at LSU, bring-
ing the season total to five school records. In
short, the team has performed up to, if not be-
yond, expectations. The Wolverines know they
have had a successful year - but it's not com-
plete.

The missing event is the Big Ten Champi-
onships, held Friday and Saturday in Champaign.
It is there that this year's Wolverine squad will
look to find this season's true success. Through-
out the regular season, they have shown they can
compete with any team in the conference. But to
beat them all would be the ultimate goal, the ul-
timate success.
They wanted to climb the steps, to leave the
Big Ten basement; they did. They wanted a re-
spectable program; they have one. Ultimately,
they want to be the team that establishes tradi-
tion in Michigan gymnastics. A Big Ten Cham-
pionship seems to be the next step; they want
one - now.
Of course, this is a young team that should
probably be looking to next year as 'its year.' It
is also a team that knows opportunity does not
necessarily knock twice, and opportunity is
knocking now. This realization has set in, and
evolved into a determination to win.
However, to win may take more than deter-
mination. To win a Big Ten Championship in a
year where so many teams are so closely matched
may take something closer to perfection.

The outcome remains to be seen.
Like Wolverine gymnastics teams of the past,
this team will go to the Big Tens and give its
best. What separates this team from those of the
past is that this team's best performance is good
enough to win. That in itself is the step this
team has made this year. It's a step that had to be
taken, but one without immediate glory. So the
team looks beyond.
And so they travel to Champaign knowing
that, if each gymnast performs as well as she
can, it's very possible the team will come home
champions. More importantly, the Wolverines
know that this entire season has already been an
incredible performance.
Even if this year's squad doesn't win the Big
Ten title, it has already set the standard for
Michigan gymnastics teams of the future. Even
if this year's Wolverines do not win, this deter-
mined young team will come back to Ann Arbor
with some degree of satisfaction. It will come
home with valuable experience, and it will prob-
ably come home favored to win next year's Big
Ten Championships.
Or favored to repeat.

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