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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Brigid Mulroy named MVP for Detroit Mercy

Birmingham Marian grad Brigid Mulroy, the top 3-point shooter in the nation in Division I women's basketball, was named the University of Detroit Mercy team MVP at Thursday's team awards banquet. The senior was the leading scorer for the Titans in 13 of 31 games, leading UDM to a 17-14 record (the program's most wins since 2000-01), and a second-place finish in the Horizon League. She was the first Titan woman to earn All-Horizon League First Team honors in eight seasons.

She'll represent UDM as one of eight contestants in the 3-point contest on April 1, as part of the 22nd Annual State Farm 3-Point Championship at the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Sophomore Lauren Allen (Rochester HS), who started 28 of 31 games and every league contest, earned Most Improved Player Award. Sophomore Yar Shayok, the Horizon League's top newcomer, earned the same honor for the Titans, adding the Hustle Award.

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Coldren leads offensive resurgence for CMU softball

Confidence is contagious.

So is hitting.

Still trying to erase the memory of last year’s 12-win season — just the second losing season in 31 years — the Central Michigan University softball team continued its torrid offensive pace, pounding out five home runs in a sweep of host University of Detroit Mercy on Wednesday.

With the wins — 9-0 in six innings and 8-0 in five — the Chippewas matched their win total from the entire 2009 season (12), and have now posted 10 wins in their last 11, including five in a row.

“I think we’re playing Chippewa softball, which means we're playing with heart, and we’re playing with pride and we’re having fun at the game. And when you play that way, good things happen,” said CMU coach Margo Jonker, whose team now has one fewer home runs (16) than it did all of last season. “It’s a product of, right now, they’re loose at the plate, and they’re letting the ball travel deep in the zone, and not being overanxious. We’ve got the potential for power, but we’ve gotta be loose and relaxed, in order to make it happen.”

Sophomore shortstop Molly Coldren — the winner of Michigan's Miss Softball Award in 2008 — got the Chippewas (12-7) loose early against the Titans (2-8), bashing her fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot for a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Wednesday’s opener. The Pontiac Notre Dame Prep grad had three all of last season.
The power didn’t stop there.

Christina Novak’s sixth-inning grand slam closed out the scoring in the first game, while Brittni Merchant’s second homer of the season — a two-run shot to dead center field — got it started in the first inning of the nightcap. Redshirt freshman catcher Brogan Darwin’s first career homer — a two-run shot to left-center — gave CMU a 4-0 lead, while Amanda Patrick’s three-run homer down the right-field line capped the day’s scoring binge for the top offense in the Mid-American Conference.

The stark contrast to last year’s .235 team batting average, and 2.8 runs-per-game production is marked (this year's team is batting .278 and averaging 5.4 runs per game), begging the question of whether last year was really that bad, or this year is that exceptional.

“I think it’s a combination,” said Coldren, who leads CMU with a .373 average, five home runs and 19 RBI after remodeling her hitting stroke in the offseason. “Of course, our hitting last year wasn’t as strong, but this year everyone just feeds off each other, and when one person hits well, the next person will hit well, and it just kind of keeps going. Last year is kind of just tucked into the back of our mind, that we don’t want that to happen again.”

Three CMU pitchers — Kara Dornbos, Sarah Patterson and Courtney King — combined to shut the Titans out on just three total hits in 11 innings of work. Patterson got her first career win in the nightcap.

The wins also put Jonker just nine shy of the 1,000 plateau. The Chippewas’ next outing is the home opener against Oakland University on March 31.

Keep any eye out for a full feature on Coldren's resurgence in the print edition of The Oakland Press.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Kalamazoo's Ellis gets his record back

He did it.

Bloomfield Hills Lahser grad Paul Ellis had one goal entering the NCAA Division III Men's Swimming and Diving Championships: Get his title back.

And he did it Thursday.

As I wrote in Wednesday's print edition of The Oakland Press (the link to the story is here), the Kalamazoo College swimmer held the national D-III record in the 100-yard backstroke for just 35 days last spring, losing it when he showed up to the NCAA meet still shaking off the effects of bronchitis.

Free of any illness (or antibiotics) this time around, Ellis reclaimed the record with a 48.22 second swim Thursday on the lead leg in the 400 medley relay, the same way he'd done it before. One day later, he won the 100 backstroke title with a swim of 48.36, just off his own record, but still 0.23 seconds ahead of Johns Hopkins swimmer John Thomas — the man who'd poached Ellis' record at last spring's NCAA meet.

Ellis and the Hornets — who went into Saturday's final sessions of the championship meet in fourth place — got second-place finishes in the 200 and 400 medley relays, but had a disappointing disqualification on the final leg of the 200 free relay. In that event, the Hornets had posted the second-best time in preliminaries.

The two-time Most Valuable Swimmer in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Ellis also had a ninth-place finish (best in the consolation finals) in the 100 butterfly event.

Ellis has one open event (the 200 backstroke) and one relay (400 freestyle) left to swim on Saturday.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Marian's Mulroy has more hoops to hit for UDM

In high school at Birmingham Marian, Brigid Mulroy played for a former University of Detroit Mercy player and Hall of Famer in Mary Cicerone. Her grandfather, John, is also in the UDM athletic Hall of Fame as an administrator, while her father, also named John, was once the UDM men's basketball interim coach.

But Mulroy now has earned an honor that none of those influences can boast: The UDM senior became the first player for the Titans — men's or women's — to earn an invitation to the national 3-point contest.

The 22nd Annual State Farm Slam Dunk and Three Point Championships are scheduled for April 1, as part of the NCAA men's basketball Final Four weekend. The contest will be broadcast on a tape-delay basis at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

A walk-on for her first two years with the Titans, Mulroy started every game the past two seasons, and ranks sixth on UDM's all-time list for 3-pointers made with 160. She was ranked in the top five in 3-point percentage for every week but one this season.

The Titans' season ended with a loss to Butler in the Horizon League tournament semifinals.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Petry gets a little help from his friends

Farmington Hills native Jeff Petry apparently is well liked by a LOT of people.

Named Wednesday to the All-CCHA Second Team by a vote of the league's coaches — along with two of his Michigan State teammates — the Orchard Lake St. Mary's graduate is far better appreciated by the fans. The son of former Detroit Tigers pitcher Dan Petry, the junior defenseman was among the leaders in the first phase of fan voting for the Hobey Baker Award, which closed on Sunday.

Through the end of February, Petry had ranked third with 7,539 votes, behind only Union forward Mario-Valery Trabucco and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute defenseman Dan Ringwald, but the MSU product was not among the top five vote-getters announced Monday. Results from the initial phase of fan voting will be combined with ballots from college hockey's coaches to determine the top 10 finalists for college hockey's version of the Heisman Trophy. That list, due out March 18, will kick off the second phase of fan voting, helping narrow the field down to a hat trick of the final three candidates.

The Hobey Baker winner will be announced April 9 at the Frozen Four tournament, which will be held at Ford Field in Detroit this year.

Petry has appeared in every game the Spartans have played in his three-year career, earning All-CCHA Freshman Team honors, then preseason All-CCHA Second Team honors last year. MSU junior forward Corey Tropp, the league's top power-play producer, and sophomore goalie Drew Palmisano, who was third in CCHA play in goals-against average (2.21), were also honored on the Second Team.

Ferris State defenseman Zach Redmond, who tied for the league lead in goals scored by a defenseman, also made the Second Team, while Northern Michigan juniors Mark Olver and Erik Gustafsson were among those who earned First Team honors.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

CMU, EMU look to settle MAC West Division logjam

Entering the final day of the regular season on Thursday (March 4), any team in the top half of the Mid-American Conference's West Division could still claim all or part of the division crown, depending on how the night's games shake out.

At least old rivals Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan — both 8-7 in the league — have their destinies in their own hands when they meet at 6:30 p.m. at EMU's Convocation Center. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net Detroit.

Ball State (also 8-7) can earn a share of the title with the EMU/CMU winner by beating host Western Michigan Thursday night.
The loser of the EMU/CMU contest could fall as far as eighth, while the winner could be as high as the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MAC tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

CMU, which beat the Eagles the last two meetings with EMU — in last year's MAC tournament, then again with a 62-49 win in Mount Pleasant earlier this season — owned a share of last year's regular-season division title as well, its third since 1998. A win Thursday would let the fourth-year coach Ernie Zeigler's Chippewas (14-14) finish over .500 both overall and in the conference for the first time since the Chris Kaman-led Chippewas won the MAC and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2003. That's a good sign for a program that's only had nine winning seasons since joining Division I in the 1972-73 school year.

For coach Charles Ramsey's Eagles (16-13), it's hardly the only big news on the Ypsilanti campus. The EMU women have already secured the No. 2 seed in the MAC tournament, while the EMU men's swimming and diving team — the perennial class of the conference with a MAC-record 28 titles, including the last three in a row — will help host the conference championships at Jones Natatorium, starting with prelims on Thursday.

Meanwhile in Mount Pleasant, the eight-time MAC champion CMU wrestling team — ranked in the top 10 in the nation — will host the MAC championships at Rose Center this weekend, March 6-7.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lake Orion's Watterworth named Summit POW

Lake Orion graduate Bethany Watterworth was named the Summit League's Player of the Week for women's basketball, after scoring 32 points in OU's 82-68 win over IPFW on Saturday, helping clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming league tournament.

It marked the second time the freshman was honored, but the first time in two seasons that an OU women's player surpassed the 30-point plateau.

Stay tuned to beat writer Paul Kampe's coverage of the Grizzlies men and women, as they get set for the league postseason in South Dakota, all week long in The Oakland Press print edition, and on Kampe's Grizzlies Den blog at TheOaklandPress.com.

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