The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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88 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018 BY ANDREW VAILLIENCOURT AND AUSTIN FOX A s winter sports wind down, that means it's time for spring sports to begin. Each squad is looking to claim Big Ten titles and make moves to the top of the nation. Here's a preview of U-M's spring sports, including a projection on where each is expected to finish both in the Big Ten and nationally: BASEBALL First Event: Feb. 16-18 vs. Army at Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Won 12-6, lost 4-3 and won 7-3) Big Ten Predicted Finish: Top five NCAA Best-Case Scenario: Re- gional Coach's Expectations: "We want to come out on top of every game we play, but we always trace it down to one day, one game, one inning, one pitch at a time," head coach Erik Ba- kich said. "A good season is the accu- mulation of winning a lot of pitches. "Being able to be as present in those pitches and competing as hard as you can with as much toughness, and bringing that on a daily basis." Top Athlete: Junior infielder Ako Thomas was a first-team All-Big Ten selection last year after leading the Wolverines in both batting average (.354) and fielding percentage (.994). He also had 23 steals. Thomas is one of three U-M players named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. Athlete To Watch: Redshirt junior outfielder Miles Lewis started ev- ery game in left field last year for Michigan. He led the team with 14 doubles, stole 19 bases and hit .296. "I'm not going to put any more pres- sure on myself, I'm just going to try to get my team the at-bat the situation calls for and go from there," Lewis said. Don't Miss: March 23-25 vs. Michi- gan State. U-M takes on the Spartans with two games at home and one on the road in late March. The meetings between the rivals are typically very competitive and will be the team's first conference series of the season. MEN'S GOLF First Event: Feb. 9-10 at the Big Ten Match Play Championship in Palm Coast, Fla. (Lost to Ohio State 5-1, lost to Purdue 4-2, lost to Maryland 4-2 and lost to Nebraska 3.5-2.5) Big Ten Predicted Finish: 10th NCAA Best-Case Scenario: Top 10 at regional Coach's Expectations: "The expec- tation is to get better with every event, and then compete to win champion- ships at the end of the year," head coach Chris Whitten said. "This is the start of the spring season — which is the second half of our overall season — and as of now, we're in position to play well and make our fourth con- secutive NCAA postseason. "One of our goals is to also play well in the Big Ten Championships." Top Athlete: Senior Kyle Muel- ler was an honorable mention All- America pick by Golfweek in 2017, and a two-time first-team All-Big Ten performer in 2016 and 2017. "Kyle Mueller has been our low scoring average player every year he's been at Michigan," Whitten said. "He's one of the best players in the entire country, and I'm excited for him to close out his Michigan career with some fireworks." Athlete To Watch: Junior Nick Carlson was one of just two Michigan golfers — along with Mueller — to start all 13 events last season. He was also named to the PING Division I Midwest All-District Team in 2017. "Nick is our well-established sec- ond player, right there with Kyle," Whitten explained. "He's actually one of the most well-known players in amateur golf." Don't Miss: March 3-4 at the Des- ert Mountain Intercollegiate in Scott- sdale, Ariz. This will mark the fourth straight year that Michigan will be hosting the event on the Outlaw Course at Desert Mountain. WOMEN'S GOLF First Event: Feb. 19-20 at the Moon Golf Invitational in Melbourne, Fla. Big Ten Predicted Finish: Sixth NCAA Best-Case Scenario: Top 15 at championships Coach's Expectations: "We're ex- cited for our spring season to com- mence," head coach Jan Dowling said. "We had some really good indi- vidual rounds in the fall, but haven't put a great tournament together yet.   OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE Michigan's Spring Squads Are Ready To Win Junior infielder Ako Thomas led Michigan in both batting average (.354) and fielding percent- age (.994) en route to All-Big Ten accolades in 2017. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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