April 7, 2012
Watch Game Highlights on Wildcats All Access!
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: Iowa 5, Northwestern 2
Records: NU (14-20, 2-5 Big Ten), Iowa (15-18, 5-2 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: April 7, 2012 -- vs. Iowa (Evanston, Ill.), Immediately
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Despite hitting a bevy of balls on the nose Saturday in the first game of a Big Ten doubleheader against Iowa, Northwestern could not come back from an early five-run Hawkeyes' rally in a 5-2 loss at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
Northwestern now is 14-20 overall on the season after its loss, 2-5 in the Big Ten. Iowa improves to 15-18 overall with its win, 5-2 in the conference. The two teams return to action immediately in the second game of their three-game weekend set.
Iowa put runners on the corners with one out in the top of the first against Northwestern starter Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette), but the junior calmly got two ground balls to classmate Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) at short to end the threat with no runs across.
In the bottom of the first, sophomore Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) reached on an infield single with one out before stealing second base and moving to third on a wild pitch. The inning ended, however, when a two-out screaming liner off the bat of Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) tracked straight to the second baseman's glove.
Iowa found the scoreboard in the top of the second on a leadoff hit by pitch, a successful sacrifice bunt and a single through the middle into center. The inning continued with a two-out walk and infield single, then another walk forced in a second Hawkeye run. A bases-clearing double followed to make it a 5-0 Iowa lead before Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) entered the circle in relief. She fanned the first batter she faced to finish the inning.
Northwestern had threats stuffed by Iowa double plays in two innings in the early going. In the second, Letourneau was hit by a pitch before an Oliva Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) line drive slammed into the pitcher, falling right at her feet for an easy 1-6-3 double play. Again in the third, the Wildcats got a base runner courtesy of a Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) single. Then, with Scharkey stealing on the play, Allard smoked a liner directly to the second baseman similar to Bast's ball in the first, leading to Scharkey being doubled up at first to close the inning.
Northwestern's hard-hit balls finally found real estate in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Bast sent a double storming to the fence in right center before Letourneau doubled into the other gap to bring in Bast and make the score 5-1 going to the fifth inning.
Iowa put a pair of runners on with two outs in the top of the fifth, but catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) threw out the lead runner trying to steal third to end the threat.
With Letourneau keeping the Hawkeyes' offense on their heels, Northwestern chipped away at its deficit again in the sixth. Majam, of the four-foot single in the first inning Majams, swung away and launched a one-out solo home run over the fence in right for her first home run of the season, making the score 5-2. Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) then was hit by a pitch, giving way to pinch runner Tonz. Bast walked, putting two Wildcats on base. As happened in so many innings, though, the Hawkeyes escaped further damage when a Duehr two-out bullet found the pitcher's hip pocket, where it was caught to end the frame.
Letourneau completed her hitless turn in the circle with a scoreless top of the seventh, ending the frame with her sixth strikeout in 5.1 innings of work. In the bottom of the seventh, Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) led off with a single through the left side of the infield. She was erased on a fielder's choice grounder off the bat of pinch hitter Jenny Tyler (Glendale, Ariz./Deer Valley), who then gave way to runner Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada). The story of the game continued, unfortunately, when a Scharkey ball destined for center was caught by a completely airborne layout dive for out number two.
Allard would push Edwards to second with two outs when her grounder to short was booted for an error, but again the game would end when the pitcher miraculously caught a line drive hit right back at her with bad intentions.
Lamberth (7-10) went 1.2 innings in the start, allowing five runs on four hits and three walks with a strikeout. Letourneau was tremendous in relief, allowing not a single hit in 5.1 scoreless innings with three walks and six strikeouts.
Majam led NU at the plate with a two-hit day, a single and the solo home run.
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