March 16, 2012
Site: Tampa, Fla. (USF Softball Stadium)
Score: No. 24 South Florida 2, Northwestern 1,
Records: NU (8-12), South Florida (21-5)
Next NU Event: March 17, 2012 -- vs. No. 21 Florida State (USF Invite), 10:15 a.m. CT/11:15 a.m. ET
TAMPA -- Northwestern took an early 1-0 lead Friday afternoon against No. 24 South Florida at the USF Invite, but the Bulls came back with a pair of fourth-inning runs at their home ballpark to defeat the Wildcats, 2-1.
Northwestern falls to 1-1 at the USF Invitational with its loss, 8-12 overall on the season. South Florida, which improves to 21-5 with its win, was NU's 11th ranked opponent in 20 games so far in 2012.
Northwestern recorded the game's first run in the top of the first. Junior Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) tore the first pitch she saw in the contest into left to lead off the game, then advanced to third when the throw on a steal attempt sailed into center. Senior Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) brought Allard home when she applied a picture-perfect squeeze to give Northwestern a 1-0 lead. Monka's RBI was the 158th of her career, tying her with Erin Dyer (2006-09) for fourth all-time at NU.
Northwestern starter Meghan Lamberth
(Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) worked around several South Florida base runners in each of the first and second innings to keep the Bulls off the scoreboard. The Wildcats put a couple of runners of their own on in the top of the third when Allard notched her second hit and steal of the game and the Bulls then elected to intentionally walk Monka, but USF's reigning Louisville Slugger Division I and USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week Sara Nevins got a strikeout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, South Florida loaded the bases with no outs on a single, a sacrifice bunt that did not result in an out and a walk. Lamberth got the next batter to ground to Allard at short, who brought the ball home for out number one. A liner to Bast at third accounted for the second out, then the next batter tied the game on a walk. One more run came home on a pinch hit bouncer than leapt high over Lamberth's head and into center to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead going into the fifth inning.
After lightning fast 1-2-3 innings in the fifth, Monka led off the sixth with a single to left, but her pinch runner was picked off the bag -- the second NU runner at first to befall that fate in the game.
South Florida rallied again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two on and no outs after a Northwestern error and an infield single. The next batter successfully sacrificed the runners up a bag, but back-to-back groundouts kept the Bulls from extending their lead. Unfortunately, Northwestern was unable to erase the one-run deficit in the top half of the seventh.
Both Allard and Edwards collected two hits apiece at the plate to lead Northwestern. Lamberth (3-5) took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work.
Northwestern returns to action at 10:15 a.m. CT/11:15 a.m. ET Saturday, March 17, against No. 21 Florida State at the USF Invite.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!