April 16, 2013
Watch: Northern Illinois Game Highlights
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: Northwestern 11, Northern Illinois 9
Records: NU (22-16), Northern Illinois (13-26)
Next NU Event: April 19, 2013 -- at Penn State (University Park, Pa.), 5 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- In a game that began as a 1-0 pitcher's duel through three innings before launching into a slugfest, Northwestern outlasted Northern Illinois, 11-9, Tuesday afternoon in a nonconference tilt at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
Northwestern now is 22-16 overall on the year with its win while Northern Illinois falls to 13-26 after its loss.
Northwestern starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) was quite overpowering early in the game. She walked the first batter she faced on a close 3-2 pitch before fanning the next three in order. The leadoff batter in the second hit a solo home run, then Wood struck out the side after that as well. In the third the leadoff batter again walked but was eliminated on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play when catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) threw behind the Huskie at first to pick her off. Wood then finished off the third with her eighth K of the game.
Meanwhile, Northwestern struggled early to break through. Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) singled to lead off the game and stole second, eventually being stranded at third (later, in the third, she would be robbed of another base hit by the shortstop on a crushed line drive). Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) was hit by a pitch to start the second, but she too was left on base.
NIU attempted to add to its 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth with a pair of runners on and two outs. The batter smoked a pitch destined for right field but freshman Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) reached up at second and made the snag with a little hop to keep the Wildcats' deficit at a single run.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Wildcats stopped scuffling and started crushing. Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) led off the frame with a double before Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) absolutely annihilated a no-doubt home run to put NU on top, 2-1. The shot was Letourneau's third in NU's last four games, her ninth of the year and the 17th of her career.
The Wildcats' inning continued when Edwards lined a single off the glove of the third baseman before moving to third on an Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) double. One out later, Tonz hit a grounder toward the second-base bag that the shortstop misplayed for an error to allow Edwards to score and DiPrima to move to third. Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) took advantage of the extra out to lift a sacrifice fly to right field to put NU up 4-1 going into the fifth.
NIU fought right back in the top of the fifth, getting a pair of runners on with two outs before back-to-back doubles knotted the score, 4-4. Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) entered the circle in relief of Wood at that point, but the Huskies were not done scoring, adding three more for six total runs in the inning and a 7-4 lead.
Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) led off the bottom of the fifth with a comebacker that the pitcher kicked around for a leadoff error. Bast immediately walked and Letourneau was hit by a pitch to load the bags with no outs. Edwards brought one run in with a sacrifice fly before DiPrima brought everyone else in with a three-run home run into the left-field bleachers to put Northwestern back on top, 8-7. DiPrima's homer was her third of the season.
The inning continued with a two-out Tonz single and a walk to Duehr, leading Northern Illinois to replace starter Jessica Sturm with Emily Norton. Scharkey greeted her with a blast over the right fielder for a two-run double before Majam also had an RBI double, though hers was more of the bloop and hustle variety. When the frame ended, NU had answered NIU's six run fifth with seven runs to regain an 11-7 lead.
As a light drizzle began falling in the top of the sixth, the slugfest continued with a two-run, one-out double by the Huskies, prompting Letourneau to enter the circle in relief of Lamberth and quickly shut down the rally with a pair of strikeouts.
Letourneau followed her circle clutch-ness with a leadoff double just inside the third-base bag in the bottom of the sixth. She moved to third when she had to wait to see if a DiPrima tweener would fall in between fielders for a double (it did), but NIU was able to escape to keep NU's lead at just two, 11-9.
Letourneau worked around a seventh-inning walk by striking out the side to earn her first save of the season. She recorded all five outs she got via strikeout and allowed no hits and two walks. NU's pitchers combined for 16 total Ks in the game.
Wood threw 4.2 innings in her no-decision start, striking out a career-high nine batters while allowing five runs on four hits and five walks. Lamberth went two-thirds of an inning in relief and picked up the victory to move to 8-4, allowing four runs on three hits and three walks with two strikeouts.
Offensively, DiPrima led the way with a 3-for-4 day including a home run, a double three RBIs and two runs scored. Letourneau was 2-for-3 with a double and a homer, knocking in two and scoring twice. Bast scored two runs and Scharkey brought home a pair with two hits.
Northwestern hits the road for the first time since the third week of March when it starts a Big Ten series at Penn State at 5 p.m. CT (6 p.m. ET) Friday, April 19, in University Park, Pa.
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