April 5, 2013
Watch Game Highlights on Wildcats All Access!
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: Northwestern 8, Illinois 0 (5)
Records: NU (17-14, 3-3 B1G), Illinois (11-19, 1-6 B1G)
Next NU Event: April 6, 2013 -- vs. Illinois (Sharon J. Drysdale Field), 1 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern softball's newest promotion is no-hit Fridays at Sharon J. Drysdale Field! For the second time in as many weeks, sophomore Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) allowed no hits and the Wildcats walked off with an 8-0 (5) run-rule victory over Illinois.
Northwestern improves to 17-14 overall on the season with the win, 3-3 in the Big Ten. Illinois now is 11-19 on the year with its loss, 1-6 in the conference.
Letourneau's (11-8) no-hitter is the second of her career and it follows a seven-inning no-no in a 6-2 NU win over Minnesota last Friday, March 29, at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The April 5 installment needed just five innings of work and featured eight strikeouts against eight walks.
Letourneau is the ninth pitcher in Northwestern history to toss multiple no-hitters. Her Friday effort is the 46th in school history.
In the bottom of the first, senior Kristen Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) drew a leadoff walk against Illinois starter Shelese Arnold before stealing second base. That swipe was her team-best ninth of the year and the 57th of her career, tying her for seventh all-time at NU with Erin Robson (1994-97). Junior Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) then slapped a single back through the middle that brought Scharkey around to score.
Majam took second on the throw then moved to third when she was forced to wait to see if a Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) double off the top of the wall in left would be caught. Majam did not have to wait long to come home, scampering to the plate on a passed ball before Bast scored on an Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) double to give NU a 3-0 lead after the first.
Letourneau worked around several early base runners including one that reached in the second frame on Northwestern's first error since a game March 22 at No. 25 Nebraska. The sophomore escaped those situations largely via the K, ending up with five through three innings of work. The Wildcats put together a rally through errors in the third when the Illini made a pair, but an Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) ball with home run distance curved just foul before she later flew out to end the frame.
Illinois loaded the bases in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of walks and a hit by pitch before Letourneau got a lazy fly to Majam in left to end the threat.
Northwestern struggled to add to its total after the first inning outburst until the fifth frame. Bast led off with her second double of the game, this one one-hopping the fence in left center. Letourneau then drove a deep fly ball to dead center that the fielder tracked down going backwards on the track, allowing Bast to easily tag and move to third on the play. Then, with two outs, DiPrima hit a Hawk Harrelson "duck snort" over the shortstop to drive in Bast for a 4-0 NU lead.
The inning continued with a Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) infield single before pinch hitter Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) hit a ball that was booted for a bases-loading error. After Paige Tonz (Peoria, Arz./Centennial) re-entered to run at first for Lamberth, Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) delivered the big blow -- a bases-clearing double to the fence in center to put the 'Cats up 7-0.
Scharkey then strode to the plate and slapped a ball to third, but the throw bounced out of the glove of the first baseman for an error allowed Scharkey to be safe and Duehr to run all the way around to the plate to end the game early, 8-0.
Majam, Bast and DiPrima all went 2-for-3 at the plate for NU with Bast collecting two doubles and two runs. Duehr drove in three.
Northwestern returns to action against Illinois at 1 p.m. CT tomorrow, Saturday, April 6. Fans who attend the NU football spring open practice at 10 a.m. at Ryan Field can bring their scorecard to Sharon J. Drysdale Field for $3 admission to the park.
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