March 7, 2008
FULLERTON, Calif. -- No. 8 Northwestern notched its fourth shutout in its last six outings Friday night with a 3-0 blanking of Cal State Fullerton as part of the Long Beach Invitational.
The win improves Northwestern to 12-3 on the season, 2-0 at the Long Beach Invitational. Cal State Fullerton falls to 11-9-1 on the year with its loss. The game was played at Fullerton's Anderson Family Field instead of Mayfair Park in Lakewood, Calif., where the rest of NU's Invitational games are being held.
The game was a milestone for Northwestern head coach Kate Drohan, who earned career victory No. 250 with the win. Drohan entered the week ranked 15th in the nation in winning percentage among active NCAA Division I head coaches, currently boasting a .702 mark (250-106-1) in seven years.
In a fun statistical coincidence, the victory also was No. 900 for Northwestern softball as a whole. The Wildcats are 900-645-4 since beginning play in 1976.
Northwestern's first threat of the game came to kick off the second frame. With one out, sophomore Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) beat out an infield single, then stole second. A walk to junior Jessica Rigas (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) was followed by a pretty bunt single from freshman Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) to load the bases. A hard comebacker to Fullerton starter Christine Hiner (6-4), however, started a double play that erased Dyer headed home to end the inning with no runs scored.
The Wildcats again recorded a pair of base hits in the third inning but came up empty in the runs column. Junior Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) had an infield single for her second hit of the ball game, but was thrown out trying to steal second. Freshman Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) then crushed a ball off the very top of the fence in left, hitting it so hard it bounced straight back to the fielder, who gunned a throw into second to put out Batts before she could earn the double.
Ironically, after twice putting together multiple-hit innings with no runs, Northwestern broke through on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth without the benefit of a base knock. Sophomore Nicole Pauly
(Palatine, Ill./Palatine) reached base on an error to lead off the inning, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from junior Erin Dyer
(Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport). A groundout by Kelly Dyer
moved Pauly to third before she sprinted home on a wild pitch to give NU a 1-0 lead.
Northwestern starter Lauren Delaney (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias), meanwhile, was cruising in the circle, allowing only a bloop single to right through four innings. She struck out the side in the fourth and fifth, stranding a runner at third with two Ks following a one-out triple in the latter frame.
Northwestern added two more runs in the top of the fifth with a two-out rally. Williams notched her third base hit of the game, then moved to second when Batts drew a walk. Pauly reached for the second-straight time on an error, this time on a ball booted by the Titan shortstop. An alert Williams never stopped running on the play, coming all the way around to score.
With Batts now on second, sophomore Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) entered to run for her. Erin Dyer then shot a single through the left side to plate Euler and give NU a 3-0 advantage.
Delaney (10-2) continued to contain the Titans in the seventh, finishing the game with a foul out to Erin Dyer behind the plate, a pop up to Williams at short and strikeout. She earned her fourth shutout of the season with the complete-game effort, allowing three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts.
Williams finished 3-for-4 in the game with a run scored, her second three-hit effort of the day after also notching a trio of knocks in the morning against Rutgers.
Northwestern returns to action in the Long Beach Invitational at 11 a.m. CT tomorrow, Saturday, March 8, against No. 24 Virginia Tech at Mayfair Park in Lakewood, Calif.