April 6, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- No. 23 Northwestern held Iowa without a hit until the fifth inning Sunday in the series finale at Bob Pearl Field, but the Hawkeyes turned that hit into a three-run rally in an eventual 4-3 walk-off victory over the Wildcats.
Northwestern falls to 22-9 overall on the season with its loss and now stands 5-4 in the Big Ten. Iowa also is 5-4 in the conference with its victory Sunday and improves to 10-18 on the year. NU swept a Saturday doubleheader against Iowa to win the series, 2-1.
Northwestern used its speed to dent the scoreboard first on Sunday. Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) led off with an infield single and stole second, then moved to third when Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) also singled on the dirt. The Wildcats then executed a perfect double steal to send Allard across the plate for a 1-0 NU lead.
Northwestern pushed across another run in the top of third, an inning that again started with Allard and Majam infield singles. This time no stolen bases were involved, instead with one out Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) hit a sharp grounder to second base. Iowa attempted to turn a 4-6-3 double play but DiPrima's hustle beat the return throw at first and allowed Allard's hustle to put a run on the board when she blazed all the way around to score on the play, extending NU's advantage to 2-0.
Northwestern starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) was stellar in the first trip through the Iowa order, facing the minimum and fanning six in the process.
Iowa got its first base runners of the game in the bottom of the fourth, beginning with a one-out error. That runner, Claire Fritsch, took off for second, but Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) threw her out attempting to steal for the second time in the series. Wood then issued a two-out walk to the dangerous Megan Blank, a no-harm no-foul strategy after the NU sophomore retired the next batter on one pitch.
The Hawkeyes picked up their first hit of the ballgame with one out in the bottom of the fifth and it kick-started a rally that saw Iowa score three times to a take a 3-2 lead in the game. Wood kept the deficit at a single run when she got an infield pop-up from Blank to end the inning.
Northwestern tried to respond immediately in the top of the sixth when Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) led off by pounding the first pitch she saw off the top of the wall in left for a long single. Pinch runner Krista Williams (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley) replaced her and moved to second when Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) reached base for the third time in the game, this time on a walk. Iowa tightened up at that point, however, to retire the Wildcats in order and preserve its advantage.
Iowa loaded the bases via three walk in the bottom of the sixth before Wood escaped with a strikeout to keep the deficit at a single run, which would prove to be huge. Allard led off the top of the seventh with her third hit of the game. She moved to second on a Majam sacrifice, then to third on a Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) pop out to right. DiPrima then put a ball in play to second that the fielder booted to allow Allard to score and tie the game, 3-3.
The reprieve unfortunately did not last long. Iowa led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and freshman Nicole Bond (Clayton, N.C./Clayton) entered the circle in relief of Wood. The next batter sacrificed the runner to third before NU issued an intentional pass and Iowa then loaded the bases. A wild pitch brought the winning run across.
Wood (11-4) took the loss, allowing four run on four hits and six walks with eight strikeouts in the six-plus innings. Bond retired one Hawkeye and issued an intentional pass with one hit batter in her brief relief outing.
Allard led NU at the plate with a 3-for-4 day, scoring three times and stealing two bases.
No. 23 Northwestern returns to action Friday through Sunday, April 11-13, in a Big Ten series at No. 14 Minnesota.
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