March 5, 2011
Site: Fullerton, Calif. (South Field)
Score: Northwestern 3, Oregon State 2
Records: NU (11-5), Oregon State (7-6)
Next NU Event: March 6, 2011 -- vs. IPFW (DeMarini Invitational), 1:15 p.m.
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Strong work in the circle and several stunning defensive gems led Northwestern to a 3-2 victory over Oregon State Saturday evening at the DeMarini Invitational hosted by Cal State Fullerton.
Northwestern improves to 11-5 overall on the season with its win, 4-0 at the DeMarini Invitational. Oregon State falls to 7-6 overall with its loss. The Wildcats captured an 8-4 win over the Beavers last weekend at the Cathedral City Classic.
After a scoreless top of the first for Northwestern, centerfielder Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) made an incredible catch for the first out of Oregon State's half of the frame. The sophomore turned and tracked a deep drive all the way to the fence, never taking her eye off the ball before reaching out to grab it simultaneous to slamming full speed into the fence. She held onto her catch while falling to the ground, setting the tone for a 1-2-3 bottom of the first for Northwestern starter Jessica Smith (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon).
Freshman Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) led off the top of the second with a solo home run over the wall in center, staking Northwestern to a 1-0 lead. The shot was her second of the year.
Smith was strong in the circle through the early going, allowing only a two-out walk in the second and a two-out double that was little more than a pop fly in the third. She struck out the side in that third frame to strand the Beaver on base at second.
Northwestern had the game's first really serious non-home run scoring threat thwarted in the fourth. Senior Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) led off with a line-drive single into left field. Lauren Ackerman (St. Louis, Mo./Home schooled) entered the game to run for Batts at first, then moved to second on a nice little sacrifice bunt by Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park). Majam drew a walk before a Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) fielder's choice grounder erased Ackerman at third. A wild pitch from Oregon State starter Paige Hall moved both runners up a bag, but Hall was able to get a strikeout to end the inning.
The Wildcats made two fantastic defensive plays behind Smith in the bottom of the fourth. First, Robin Thompson
(Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) charged in from third toward a weak pop-up, lunging to grab it and then juggling and trapping it against her thigh as she twisted to the ground to complete the catch. The next batter lined a Smith offering deep to center, and again Scharkey dialed up her Go-Go Gadget Glove to leap and snare it on the run as it whizzed over her head. The third Beaver to the plate in the inning would single, but Smith's fifth K of the game kept OSU off the board.
Northwestern rallied again in the top of the fifth. Scharkey worked a full-count walk to lead off, moving to second when Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) beat out an infield single. Thompson sacrificed both runners over, then a passed ball during an intentional walk attempt to Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) allowed Scharkey to scamper home. With Allard now on third and pinch runner Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) at first, Batts grounded out to third. On the play, Allard waited until the throw across the diamond before breaking for the plate, sliding in safely to extend the NU cushion to 3-0 before the inning ended.
Oregon State lifted Hall (1-2) to start the sixth inning, inserting Tina Andreana into the circle. The move worked, limiting Northwestern to a two-out Jordan Wheeler (Garden Grove, Calif./Los Alamitos) single. In the bottom half of the frame, Oregon State led off with a double before a one-out single brought in the first Beaver run to cut the Wildcats' advantage to two, 3-1.
The OSU inning continued when the umpires conferenced at the Beaver staff's behest, eventually over-ruling an out call at second base which resulted in an error being charged. Oregon State then loaded the bags with one out on a single before another great NU defensive play preserved the lead. Wheeler caught a fly ball in left field, then fired toward the plate on a tag up attempt. Thompson alertly cut the ball at third, diving toward the bag to tag out a trail runner to end the inning. The umpires ruled the lead runner touched home before Thompson touched the runner, making it a 3-2 game heading into the seventh.
Allard led off the seventh with a single and Monka joined her on base via a walk, but no insurance runs were forthcoming for NU. In the bottom of the seventh, Smith got a strikeout, a flyout to Scharkey in the gap and then closed it out with her ninth K of the game.
Smith (3-4) went the distance, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk with a career-high-tying nine strikeouts.
Allard led NU at the plate with a two-hit game.
Northwestern returns to action at 1:15 p.m. CT tomorrow, Sunday, March 6, against IPFW at the DeMarini Invitational.
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