My first weekend of relative freedom was good, but it could have been a lot better.
First, in Maize and Blue land, the softball team swept through Michigan State with two straight mercy rule games before playing a twin bill at home with Northwestern, who they were tied with for the lead in the Big Ten. Northwestern went out and shut down the Wolverine bats in the first game to win it 2-1. In the second game it looked like more of the same, the Wildcats had a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth when the Wolverines loaded the bases with one out for the female version of Cecil Fielder, Dorian Shaw. After fouling off nearly a dozen pitches, she finally struck out, as did the next batter to end the threat. However it was enough to wear down Northwestern's pitcher Lauren Delaney, who loaded the bases again this time with nobody out this time for Angela Findlay, who walked. That gave the bat to co-captain Samantha Findlay who has been Ms. Clutch all year, and delivered a clear cut walk off single to left to drive in the two runs needed to win the game in the seventh.
Michigan is still tied for the Big Ten lead with Northwestern, they have one more series left in their conference schedule against Penn State on the road. The Nittany Lions have struggled their way through the Big Ten this year after an impressive start in the non conference. Coach Hutchins will probably try and preach to them that they can't look past anybody, especially when the Big Ten championship is at stake. If Michigan can lock up the regular season championship then they should be able to blast their way into the NCAA tournament because they have been dominant at home this year.
The baseball team's hopes of winning the Big Ten title have been put in jeopardy as they split a four game set with last place Indiana. After assaulting the Hoosiers 14-6 on friday, the Wolverines were stumped in saturday's first game by Matt Beshore who struck out eight in a game that only lasted seven innings due to scheduling conflicts. Michigan lost the first game 2-1, then pounced on Indiana 11-4 with Nate "the 'recker'" Recknagle going 4-4 with his 17th homer of the season. Unfortunately they expended everything in that game and the score of saturday's nitecap was reversed in favor of the hosting Hoosiers. With Purdue's sweep of Minnesota, including three come from behind victories, the Wolverines now stand atop the Big Ten by a mere game, and they're playing Ohio State.
Fortunately that school in Columbus struggled with Northwestern having to settle for a split as well. Also Rich Maloney refused to leave any quotes for mgoblue, making one think that he was NOT PLEASED with the performance on sunday. If Maloney pulled a Jim Leyland on his team he should hope they react the way the Tigers do.
The Tigers could have done so much better at this point, but hope is on the way in the form of Curtis Granderson. He returned this past week hitting pretty much anything that came in front of the plate this past week, although they dropped two out of three to the Angels at home this past weekend, as a longtime Tigers fan who has had his heart broken by them so many times, it's good to have Grandy back on the field.
The Red Wings didn't just beat the Avalanche in the first two games of their playoff series, they showed them who was the boss. After giving up two really bad second period goals in game one to cut their lead to 4-3 Chris Osgood played magnificently in net. I couldn't believe what i was hearing on the radio at the time, sprawling out to make sure the Avs shooters would not get it in. I hope Billy Sauer takes some pointers from the wizard of Os in the offseason, because right now it looks like he's taking Vezina Trophy winners to school.
Last but certainly not least, i thought for certain that the Pistons were going to return to the Palace trailing the Sixers three games to one. But the self preservation kicked in early as they showed the world how they win by owning the court to send it back to Detroit on their terms. Hopefully they can complete it and end all this upset talk.