March 16, 2012
Site: Tampa, Fla. (USF Softball Stadium)
Score: Northwestern 12, Fairfield 1 (5)
Records: NU (8-11), Fairfield (9-6)
Next NU Event: March 16, 2012 -- at No. 24 South Florida (USF Invite), 3:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. ET
TAMPA -- Northwestern used a seven-run second-inning outburst to take a commanding lead against Fairfield Friday at the USF Invite before ending the game early, 12-1 (5), on a Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) walk-off grand slam in the fifth inning.
Northwestern improves to 8-11 on the season with its win while Fairfield falls to 9-6 on the year with its loss.
Fairfield put three runners on in the top of the first inning on two walks and a Northwestern error, but catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) threw out the first runner of the frame trying to steal before starter Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) struck out two to keep the Stags off the scoreboard early.
Northwestern's first offensive attack began with a Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) base on balls with one out in the first. She quickly stole second before Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) took a pitch off the backside. Jessica Guffey (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) ran for Monka at first, moving up along with Scharkey when Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) earned a two-out, 10-pitch walk to load the bases. Fairfield's starter was able to escape the jam with a fly out to right to send the game scoreless to the second.
Scharkey ended the top of the second with a great diving grab of a short fly ball, taking the yellow orb just off the top of the green turf with her lunge. Northwestern then got to work at the plate in the bottom half of the frame, sending 12 batters to the plate, recording eight hits and scoring seven runs -- its most runs in a single inning since plating eight in the fourth frame against Ohio State on April 24, 2011. Anna Edwards
(La Canada, Calif./La Canada) led off Friday's second with a single past first before Mari Majam
(Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) and Emily Allard
(Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) loaded the bags with back-to-back one-out infield singles.
Scharkey worked a walk in an extended at-bat to force home Edwards for the game's first run. With the bases still loaded, Monka stroked a nice single into center for two more runs before a Bast liner that ate up the second baseman for a single re-loaded the bases. With two outs, Letourneau ripped a liner into center that plated two more before Edwards' second single of the second inning drove home Bast and gave Northwestern a 6-0 lead. Before the frame ended, Tonz would tack on one more Wildcats' run with a sharp single through the hole to push NU's lead to 7-0 after two innings of play.
The Stags tried to fight back in the top of the third, loading the bases with two outs with the help of their first two hits of the game. The next batter hit a shallow pop up to left, and Allard drop stepped and locked it up to end the frame.
Fairfield made a pitching change to start the bottom of the third inning, and the switch held Northwestern to a simple Scharkey single in the frame. Freshman Julia Kuhn (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) led off the bottom of the fourth with a pinch hit single back through the middle -- the first hit of her collegiate career, but again that was the Wildcats' lone offense.
Fairfield put its first run on the board in the top of the fifth with a leadoff solo home run against Letourneau, and Northwestern responded by ending the game. Majam led off the bottom of the fifth with walk, then NU loaded the bases on hits by Allard and Scharkey. A Monka grounder to short prompted a throw home, but Majam was too fast and she scored ahead of the throw to make it an 8-1 score. Amanda Mehrsheikh (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central) entered to run for Monka at first.
Bast then put the exclamation point on Northwestern's win with a laser beam to left that exited the park just past where the fence juts straight out and drops from a 10-foot level to a six-foot level, hitting the notch perfectly for a walk-off grand slam and a 12-1 (5) NU victory. The shot was Bast's team-leading sixth of the season and the 11th of her career. She now has a team-best 22 RBIs in 19 games this season.
At the plate, Scharkey reached in every appearance, going 2-for-2 with two walks, two steals, two runs and an RBI. Bast finished 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs, Monka knocked in three, Allard collected two hits and scored twice, Edwards had two base knocks, Letourneau drove in a pair and Majam scored twice.
Letourneau (4-6) picked up the win, allowing a single run on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts in the 5.0-inning, complete-game effort.
Northwestern returns to action at 3:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. ET today, Friday, March 16, against host No. 24 South Florida at the USF Invite.
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