Feb. 8, 2013
Site: Tempe, Ariz. (Tempe Sports Complex)
Score: No. 13 Arizona 4, Northwestern 3
Records: NU (0-1), Arizona (1-0)
Next NU Event: Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 -- vs. San Diego State (Kajikawa Classic), Immediately
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Northwestern and No. 13 Arizona traditionally meet at the season-opening Kajikawa Classic in wildly entertaining affairs, and Friday's installment of the series was no different. The B1G Wildcats fell behind their Pac-12 counterparts 4-0 in the fourth inning, but nearly completed a dramatic comeback in an eventual 4-3 season-opening loss.
A pitcher's duel took shape immediately Friday afternoon between Northwestern starter Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) and Arizona pitcher Shelby Babcock. While NU went down in order during its first trip through the lineup (with the help of a great diving catch by the shortstop to rob Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) on liner up the middle), Arizona stranded single runners in each of the first three innings thanks in large part to Letourneau strikeouts. The best Pac-12 Wildcats threat came in the third when they got a runner to third with one out, but Letourneau got a backwards K and an easy pop up to Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) at second to end the inning.
Northwestern put its first runner of the game on base when leadoff batter Emily Allard
(Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) started the top of the fourth with a perfect slap single to third. Several outs later, the inning would end, though, with a Letourneau medium-deep flyout to center that stranded Mari Majam
(Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) in scoring position.
Arizona broke through in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of two errors early in the frame and several walks later on to score four unearned runs and take a 4-0 lead to the fifth inning. The damage could have been worse, to be honest, but Letourneau recovered to strike out Arizona's No. 3 and 4 batters with the bases loaded to give the NU starter nine strikeouts through four frames.
Northwestern fought back with a run of its own in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) drove a leadoff double into the gap in left center to start the frame, then moved to third when an Aubrie May (La Mesa, Calif./Grossmont) ground ball was mishandled for an error. Tonz brought Edwards home with an RBI groundout deep in the hole at short following an eight-pitch at-bat to make the score 4-1.
Arizona put two more runners on in the fifth with one out thanks to a hit by pitch and the fourth Northwestern error. Letourneau bore down to match and surpass her career-high strikeout total with 11 through five innings of play.
Northwestern's comeback continued in the top of the sixth. With one out, Majam worked a beautiful nine-pitch walk before Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) picked up right where she left off in 2012's All-America season. Bast crushed an 0-1 offering so deep the left that the fielder did not even move, turning to only watch as it landed deep over the fence and brought the NU deficit down to just a single run, 4-3. The shot was Bast's first of the year and the 19th of her career.
After Letourneau quieted the top of the Arizona lineup in the bottom of the sixth, May crushed a single out into center to lead off the top of the seventh. She gave way to pinch runner Fran Strub (Coralville, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana), who moved to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Tonz, but the rally ended there.
Letourneau (0-1) took the loss though largely threw well in her first start of 2013. She allowed all four runs (none earned) on just two hits and four walks in addition to her career-high 11 strikeouts. Edwards led NU at the plate with a 2-for-3 day while Bast had the two RBIs. Tonz was a "strong" 0-2, getting robbed on a lineout, recording an RBI groundout and executing a perfect sacrifice in the seventh.
Northwestern returns to action immediately at the Kajikawa Classic with a contest against San Diego State.
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