The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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we've had a lot of freshmen play and get experience, and this team will be battle- tested and hungry next year." It would be easy for the Maize and Blue to adopt a woe-is-me attitude. Af- ter all, the program has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons. This year, for instance, U-M lost two of its top four starting pitchers — fifth-year seniors Travis Smith and Kolby Wood (seven combined appearances with just one start) — early, then saw No. 2 starter Bobby Brosnahan miss five weeks of the Big Ten campaign. In the batting order, junior shortstop Derek Dennis has missed 44 games, sophomore out- fielder Michael O'Neill has sat out for 15 and freshman outfielder Will Drake has missed 12 contests. When Maloney filled out his lineup card against Coastal Carolina, he pen- ciled in just three upperclassmen — se- nior Coley Crank at catcher, senior John Lorenz at third base and junior Patrick Biondi in center field. The rest of the infield and outfield posts belonged to sophomores and freshmen. Rookie Matt Ogden would earn the win after pitch- ing five scoreless innings of relief, and sophomore Alex Lakatos closed it out. "When you have a lot of young guys been the player we recruited him to be. We get at least one more year with Mi- chael O'Neill, who when he's healthy is a kid that hits for average, power, can run. Will Drake is an outstanding player that has only scratched the surface of his potential. And then [freshman] Dylan Delaney has really been terrific defen- sively. He's struggled with the bat, but the talent is in there. "We might get Patrick Biondi for one more year. We hope we do because he's a catalyst at the top of the lineup. And "Kevin White in the last month has we've got some sophomores like first baseman Brett Winger and second base- man John DiLaura that have really per- formed nicely for us this season. "When you look at our team, we didn't have the type of year we wanted to have, or expected to have. We need to have more luck with injuries because it's re- ally been unfair to our kids the past two seasons, but if we're a healthy club next season, with the youthful talent we have, and the experience they gained this year, it will pay off for us. We believe in these kids. Michigan will be back." ❑ in the lineup, you're going to take some lumps, but the experience we're getting, and with the guys returning from inju- ries, we believe we're going to be really good next season," said rookie Kevin White, a catcher and outfielder who was hitting .223 with three home runs and 11 RBI through May 13. "Coastal is a really good ball club, and to beat them says a lot about this team. There's no quit." Maloney understands what it takes to build a winner; the program he took over had gone 69-92-1 in the three sea- sons preceding his arrival in 2003 with eighth-, sixth- and eighth-place finishes in the Big Ten. By Maloney's third year, Michigan had earned an NCAA Tourna- ment berth. The Wolverines developed into the conference's best team for each of the next three seasons, and he thinks his current roster has the pieces to enjoy another strong run in the years to come. "We know Ogden has that in him, and we expect him to really begin putting it together," Maloney said. "We really like [freshman pitchers] Trent Szkutnik and James Bourque. Each of those kids has had more than 30 innings and we've put them in pressure situations. We'll prob- ably get Bobby back for one more year, and there are a lot of other arms that are emerging for us, which is what you need. Freshman right-hander Matt Ogden has been one of U-M's most consistent pitchers in 2012, posting a 3-3 record, three saves and a 3.19 ERA in 18 relief appearances. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS JUNE/JULY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 63

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