March 31, 2012
Site: Madison, Wis. (Goodman Diamond)
Score: Northwestern 10, Wisconsin 6 (8)
Records: NU (13-18, 1-4 Big Ten), Wisconsin (14-11, 3-2 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: April 1, 2012 -- at Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.), 2 p.m. CT (Big Ten Network)
MADISON, Wis. -- In a back-and-forth contest that saw Northwestern erase an early three-run deficit and Wisconsin plate two in the seventh to send the game to extras, sophomore Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) uncorked a two-out, full-count grand slam in the eighth inning to give the Wildcats a 10-6 (8) victory over the Badgers.
Northwestern improves to 13-18 overall on the season with its win, 1-4 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin now is 14-11 on the year, 3-2 in the conference with its loss. The contest was reminiscent of Northwestern's lone other extra-inning game this season, when an eighth-inning three-run homer gave the Wildcats a 6-3 (8) victory over then-No. 17 Texas A&M.
After a 1-2-3 top of the first for Northwestern, Wisconsin scored two runs without the benefit of a hit after several walks from NU starter Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic). The Badgers then made it a 3-0 game with a successful double steal in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the third, Northwestern began a rally courtesy of back-to-back hit by pitches issued by Wisconsin starter Cassandra Darrah to Mari Majam
(Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) and Kristin Scharkey
(Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza). One out later, senior Adrienne Monka
(Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) launched a signature Monka home run, sending the ball soaring high and deep over the fence in dead center to knot the game, 3-3, on a single swing. Monka now has seven home runs this season and 48 in her multiple-time All-America career.
A two-out Wisconsin jam shot that fell in behind second gave the Badgers the lead back, 4-3, after three innings.
Northwestern bounced right back in the top of the fourth. Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) flared a single into right to lead off the inning, then moved to second when Letourneau drew a walk. One out later, Majam beat out an infield single to load the bases for the Wildcats.
Scharkey quickly tied the game with a sharp single through the left side of the infield before an Allard infield single extended her current hitting streak to a season-best 16 games but more importantly put NU in the lead. A Monka sacrifice fly to deep left brought Majam home to make Northwestern's advantage 6-4 before the end of the frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, Wisconsin got a leadoff single against Letourneau, but Northwestern shut the door thanks to a pair of great defensive plays. First, with one out, the third baseman Bast got seriously dirty when she lunged full out toward the plate to glove a popped-up sacrifice bunt attempt just above the ground. Allard then ended the inning when she drop stepped and hopped to snag a dying liner as it made a bid to fall in behind her.
Both pitchers settled in from that point forward, with Letourneau stranding runners in scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings via frame-closing strikeouts.
In the bottom of the seventh, the first two batters each reached following protracted full-count battles with Letourneau. The next Badger successfully sacrificed both runners up a bag, then a 13-pitch at-bat resulted in a bases-loading walk. Another extended at-bat ended in another walk which forced in a run and made the score 6-5. At that point, Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) entered the circle in relief. A hit by pitch forced in the tying run, then Lamberth gloved a comebacker and fired home for the second out. The following Badger also hit a dribbler, this one finding Bast who brought the throw home to send the contest to extras.
Majam dropped a deft double down the left-field line with one out in the top of the eighth, then moved to third when Allard beat out her third single of the game with two outs. Monka was respected to the tune of a bases-loading four-pitch walk, then Bast annihilated a full-count pitch deep over the fence in left for a grand slam to put Northwestern up 10-6. The shot was Bast's team-leading eighth home run of the season and her second grand slam of the year. The hit also extended her career-best hitting streak to 11 games.
Lamberth came into the eighth and held true to the cushion, shutting down the Wisconsin side in order to conclude the win.
Monka matched her single-game season best with a four RBI day at the plate while Bast equaled her career-best single game total with four RBIs. Allard collected three hits for NU while Duehr had two hits and Majam also had two hits and scored a career-best three times.
Letourneau threw 6.1 innings in the start, allowing six runs on three hits and 12 walks with four strikeouts. Lamberth (6-8) picked up the win, going 1.2 innings of relief and allowing no hits or walks with one strikeout.
Northwestern and Wisconsin conclude their series at 2 p.m. CT tomorrow, Sunday, April 1, live on the Big Ten Network.
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