April 8, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS -- No. 6 Northwestern gradually pulled away from Minnesota in the first game of a Wednesday doubleheader at Jane Sage Cowles Field, winning 6-1 in a contest televised live on the Big Ten Network.
Northwestern improves to 23-7 on the season with the win, 9-0 in the Big Ten. Minnesota now is 20-22 with its loss, 3-4 in the conference.
Northwestern starter Lauren Delaney (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) escaped trouble in the bottom of the second during the game's first threat. Leadoff walks advanced to second and third on a sacrifice before a Delaney pitch sailed to the backstop. Catcher Erin Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) hustled to retrieve the ball before firing to third baseman Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) covering the plate to eliminate the charging runner. Delaney surrendered one more walk then earned a K to end the inning unscathed.
Northwestern responded by pushing the first run across the plate in the top of the third. Sophomore Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) took the first pitch of the inning from Minnesota starter Briana Hassett off the helmet to reach first. She was erased on a fielder's choice grounder from Jordan Wheeler (Garden Grove, Calif./Los Alamitos), who then moved to second on a Thompson sacrifice bunt.
Senior Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) drove home Wheeler with a rocket single through the left side to give the Wildcats the 1-0 advantage.
The Gophers got that run back in the third inning, taking advantage of some Wildcats' miscues. A one out error allowed a runner to reach second before she moved to third on a wild pitch. A fielder's choice grounder then brought that run home to knot the score, 1-1.
Northwestern answered again in the top of the fourth. Michelle Batts
(Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) led off with a soaring fly ball into right center that did a tango with the wind, spinning the fielder around until she missed the ball on a lunging effort. The play went for a double for Batts, who gave way to pinch runner Aly Euler
(River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest). Nicole Pauly
(Palatine, Ill./Palatine) moved Euler to third with a productive groundout, then Dyer made Euler's trot home pleasant with a big home run into the trees beyond left field to give NU the lead back, 3-1.
Dyer's blast was her 10th of the year, tying her with Williams and Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) for the team lead. She now has 39 home runs in her career, putting her one ahead of teammate Pauly for third all-time in NU history.
Williams collected her second hit of the ball game with a one-out single in the fifth, then advanced to third when she stole second and the throw sailed into center for an error. Hassett (19-15) was able to strand Williams at third to keep the Wildcats from extending their cushion.
Quinn led off the top of the seventh inning with a triple, slicing a ball into the left-center field gap past the diving centerfielder. She came home one out later when Thompson singled over a drawn-in infield, with the aggressive Thompson advancing to second on the throw home and to third when that throw got past the catcher. Williams was hit by a pitch to continue the inning, then she stole second base. Monka followed with a single into left to score both runners and put NU on top five, 6-1.
Minnesota mounted a two-out rally in the seventh, loading the bases before Delaney whiffed the final batter to end the game.
Williams finished 2-for-3 with two steals, an RBI and a run scored. Quinn was 2-for-2 at the plate while Dyer and Monka each drove in a pair for the 'Cats.
Delaney (22-6) earned the win in the circle, going the distance and allowing one unearned run on five hits and six walks with eight strikeouts.