April 12, 2013
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: Iowa 12, Northwestern 7
Records: NU (20-15, 5-4 B1G), Iowa (23-15, 3-7 B1G)
Next NU Event: April 13, 2013 -- vs. Iowa (Sharon J. Drysdale Field), 1 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern started the scoring Friday afternoon against Iowa in a Big Ten series opener at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, but a nine-run Hawkeyes' fourth negated a good offensive day for the Wildcats in a 12-7 loss.
Northwestern falls to 20-15 overall on the season, 5-4 in the Big Ten after its loss. Iowa now is 23-15 on the season, 3-7 in the conference.
Iowa's leadoff batter in the game drove a triple over the head of a drawn-in Northwestern outfield to account for the first base hit allowed by NU starter Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) on a Friday in three weeks. Letourneau no-hit Minnesota on March 29 and Illinois on April 5 in the opening games of those conference series.
Letourneau bore down immediately, getting the next batter to ground to second baseman Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards), who held the runner before recording the out at first. Later, with runners at second and third, Letourneau got a foul out to catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and a strikeout to keep Iowa off the board.
NU -- and Letourneau -- seized on the momentum to take the lead in the bottom of the first. After back-to-back one-out walks issued to reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Mari Majam
(Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) and 2012 NFCA All-American Marisa Bast
(Orange, Calif./Villa Park), Letourneau poked a three-run home run to put NU in front. The shot was Letourneau's seventh of the season and fourth in nine Big Ten games, ranking her second in the conference. She now has 15 blasts in her career.
Iowa broke through in the top of the third, turning a two-out bases-loaded situation into a pair of runs with a single back through the middle.
With the score now 3-2, NU responded in the bottom half. Majam led off with a single before stealing second base. Bast then lofted a fly ball into foul territory in right field that was caught for an out. Majam tagged on the play and took off for third, then ended up scoring when the throw ended up in left field.
The inning continued with a Letourneau single followed by an Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) base knock that capped a 14-pitch at-bat, but Iowa was able to escape with no further NU damage.
Things got away from the 'Cats in the top of the fourth when the Hawkeyes plated nine runs on eight hits, beginning with a game-tying two-run home run.
The Hawkeyes took the lead later in the frame on a strange play. With runners at second and third, the batter attempted a squeeze bunt. Tonz fielded it herself and tagged the runner pounding toward the plate, then fired to second when the batter tried to take an extra bag. The throw got away from the fielder at second, then the runner got in the way of the fielder attempting to retrieve the ball, but it was the Wildcat called for obstruction which allowed the runner who began this paragraph on second to score.
A passed ball and a run-scoring triple later in the crazy top of the fourth gave Iowa a 7-4 lead and forced Letourneau from the circle in favor of senior Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette). She retired the first batter she faced, but Iowa added four more to take an 11-4 edge before the frame finally came to a close.
Both teams exchanged zeroes in the next pair of half innings, including a 1-2-3 top of the fifth for Lamberth, before Northwestern got its scoring going again. Bast led off the bottom of the fifth with a scorching double to left before coming around when Letourneau singled for her fourth RBI of the game. Edwards pushed Letourneau to second with a walk before a pair of fielder's choice balls led to two outs, though the latter included a throwing error that put Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) at third and LeBeau at second. Lamberth then dumped a double into right to drive in both and cut NU's deficit down to four, 11-7, going into the sixth.
The Hawkeyes added one more to its total in the top of the sixth, and the Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh on a Letourneau double, a Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) pinch hit walk and Lamberth single, but a diving catch in left field ended the game.
Northwestern pounded out 10 hits as a team including five for extra bases. Letourneau was a career-best 4-for-4 with four RBIs on two singles, a double and a home run. Edwards and Lamberth both had two hits, Lamberth drove in two and Majam and Bast scored a pair of runs.
Letourneau (13-9) took the loss, allowing eight runs on eight hits and five walks with two strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work. Lamberth tossed 3.2 innings of relief, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
Northwestern and Iowa return to action in game two of this series at 1 p.m. CT tomorrow, Saturday, April 13, at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
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