March 24, 2007
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- In a preview of the blockbuster first weekend of Big Ten play that is just six days away, No. 7 Northwestern and No. 9 Michigan squared off in a classic Saturday morning at the Women 4 Women Invitational in Louisville, Ky., with the Wildcats prevailing, 2-1, in nine innings.
The win ups Northwestern's overall record on the year to 22-6, while Michigan falls to 24-4 with the loss.
The two teams meet again at 3 p.m. Friday, March 30, in Northwestern's home opener at Sharon J. Drysdale Field on the first day of Big Ten play. The second game of the series is scheduled for noon Saturday, March 31.
Michigan plated a run in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. With the bases loaded and one out on a hit and two walks, the Wolverines scored the game's first run on a passed ball. Wildcats' starter Eileen Canney (Paradise, Calif./Paradise) then struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning with no further damage.
Northwestern tied the game right away in the bottom of the first. With one out, sophomore Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) doubled into the gap in left-center, then came around to score when senior Garland Cooper (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) singled through the left side of the infield. When the throw home bounced away from the cutoff, Cooper moved up to second, but no more runs came in.
Williams now has a 14-game hitting streak and run-scoring streak for the 'Cats.
After each team scored runs in the first, the pair of seniors in the circle settled in. Canney fanned three and allowed one base runner through the next two innings, while her Michigan counterpart, Lorilyn Wilson, struck out five and also gave up a walk during the same time frame.
Canney set the Wolverines down in order again in the fourth, then the Wildcats began to make some noise at the plate. Sophomore Erin Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) drew a one-out walk, then moved to second when sophomore Jessica Rigas (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) singled down the left-field line past the diving glove of Maggie Viefhaus. Senior Jessica Miller (Elberfeld, Ind./Techumseh) followed with her second walk of the ballgame to load the bases, and freshman Ashley Lafever (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) replaced Rigas at second as a pinch runner.
Wilson was able to get out of the inning unscathed, however, after notching a pair of strikeouts.
The Wildcats again loaded the bases in the fifth after a 1-2-3 Canney performance. With two outs, Cooper singled, then advanced to second when Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) hit a sharp single back up the middle. Freshman Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) pinch ran for Cooper. After both runners moved up a bag on a wild pitch, Dyer was intentionally walked to load the bases, but again Wilson was able to get a strikeout to escape damage.
Both pitchers set the side down in order in the seventh, sending the game to extra innings with the international tie-break rule in effect. Michigan sent pinch runner Michelle Weatherdon to second to start the inning, then she moved to third on a sacrifice bunt -- with the bunter being declared safe at first after the throw to the bag was wide. Canney got a strikeout before a full-count walk loaded the bases with one down, then she coaxed a dribbling comebacker and flipped to home for the force and out number two.
With a 1-2 count on the next hitter, Canney's delivery hit the batter after she stepped all the way onto home plate to meet the pitch, and strike three was called to end the inning.
The Wildcats sent Cooper to second to begin the bottom of the eighth, then she moved to third on a productive groundout by Pauly. Erin Dyer drew a four-pitch walk to put runners at first and third with one out, then pinch hitter Erin Hampshire (Wilmette, Ill./New Trier) was hit by a pitch one out later to load the bases with two gone. Miller re-entered the game to run for Hampshire at first.
Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) followed with a ground ball up the middle that Molly Bausher ranged to her right and dropped to her knees to glove, flipping to Teddi Ewing at second ahead of a dive from Miller to record the third out and send the game to the ninth still tied, 1-1.
Canney held Michigan scoreless again in the ninth, then NU put Kelly Dyer on second to start its half. Darcy Sengewald (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way East) sacrificed Dyer to third, then Michigan intentionally walked Williams and Cooper one out later to load the bases with two down.
The intentional walk to Cooper was the 25th of her career; she ranks sixth all-time in NCAA Division I history.
Pauly then stepped to the plate and Wilson (14-3) nailed her with a pitch to force in Kelly Dyer and end the game, 2-1.
Canney (11-6) earned the win for Northwestern in impressive fashion, allowing one unearned run and only two hits with four walks and 12 strikeouts.
Cooper had a pair of hits in the game for NU.
The game marked Northwestern's first out-of-conference match-up against a Big Ten team since a March 26, 2005, contest against Illinois at the Stanford Classic. Northwestern and Michigan never before had faced each other outside the confines of the regular season or postseason conference slate.
Northwestern returns to action at 9:30 a.m. CT Sunday, March 25, against No. 25 California. The Wildcats then conclude their Women 4 Women Invitational schedule with an 11:30 a.m. CT game Sunday against Liberty.