March 25, 2010
DeKALB, Ill. -- Northwestern pounded out 12 hits and answered every Northern Illinois rally with one of its own to defeat the Huskies, 12-6, Thursday night at Mary M. Bell Field.
Northwestern now is 14-11 overall on the year while Northern Illinois is 8-16.
Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) led off Thursday's proceedings with a grounder to the pitcher, who overthrew first to allow Allard to reach third on the error. One out later, Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) lifted a high fly ball to center that the wind pushed back toward the infield. The fielder caught it on the run about 30 feet behind second, but the speedy Allard still was able to beat the throw home to give Northwestern an early 1-0 lead.
Northern Illinois wasted little time in finding the scoreboard itself. The first batter to the plate in the bottom of the first reached on an error, ending up at second base. The next Huskie hit a single back up the middle off NU starter Jessica Smith (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon) to knot the game. One out later, a double brought in another run to give the home squad a 2-1 advantage. The inning ended after another single, with center fielder Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) throwing out the runner at the plate to finish the frame.
Northwestern stormed right back in the top of the second. Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, moving to second on a groundout by Dyer. With two outs, Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) beat out an infield single, then stole second to put runners at second and third. Allard followed with a ball that the catcher pounced on just in front of the plate, but Allard beat out the throw for a hit. Pauly scored as did Thompson, who never stopped running on the four-foot single, giving the Wildcats a 3-2 lead with a headfirst slide into the plate.
Allard kept the inning going with a steal of second, then came home when Kristin Scharkey
(Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) singled back through the middle to make it 4-2 when the half-inning ended.
A pair of Northwestern errors in the bottom of the third gave the Huskies another run on the board, cutting NU's lead to one, 4-3. Going into the top of the fourth, NIU replaced starting pitcher Monica Segura (1-5) with Morgan Bittner.
Bittner issued a one-out walk to Allard, then one out later gave an intentional pass to Monka. Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard) followed the intentional walk with a mammoth home run over the street beyond the right-field fence, making the score 7-3 in favor of the `Cats. Batts' blast was her eight of the season and the 28th of her career.
Northern Illinois continued to fight back in the game, getting runners to second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth, plating a run on a sacrifice fly and a passed ball later in the inning to make it a 7-5 game.
Scharkey led off the sixth with an infield single, then stole second base to give the Wildcats seven swipes in the game. That total matched NU's single-game school record set March 27, 1999, against UNC Charlotte and matched earlier this season on Feb. 20 against UNLV. Scharkey eventually came in on a two-out single by Emily Haug (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias), who trotted home from first when Pauly homered into the teeth of the wind, sending a ball toward center that crossed over the fence in right-center to make the score 10-5. Pauly's home run was her fifth of the year and the 45th of her career.
The Huskies again cut into the lead in their half of the inning, bringing a runner home from second after a two-out NU error to make the Wildcats' advantage four, 10-6, going into the seventh inning.
Northwestern got two runs back in the top of the seventh with a two-out rally. Allard stretched a single into a double, then came home one pitch later when Scharkey sent a triple over the drawn-in outfield. A wild pitch later in the inning brought Scharkey home to account for the final 12-6 score.
Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) entered the circle in relief of Smith in the bottom of the seventh. Smith (5-2) went 6.0 innings, giving up six runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Lamberth tossed a perfect seventh to end the game.
Allard finished 2-for-4 in the game with two RBIs and a school single-game record four runs scored. That number has been reached five times at NU, most recently by Thompson on Feb. 20, 2009. Scharkey went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, Haug had a pair of hits, Pauly went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs and Batts drove in three for NU.
Northwestern returns to action at 1 p.m. CT Saturday, March 27, in its Big Ten and Sharon J. Drysdale Field opener against Purdue.