April 19, 2013
Site: University Park, Pa. (Beard Field)
Score: Northwestern 8, Penn State 3
Records: NU (23-16, 7-5 B1G), Penn State (11-28, 2-12 B1G)
Next NU Event: April 20, 2013 -- at Penn State (University Park, Pa.), 3 p.m. CT
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- After a 93 minute rain delay Friday evening, Northwestern's bats also took some time getting going against Penn State before exploding for three home runs in a five-run sixth that led to an 8-3 Wildcats win in the B1G series opener.
Northwestern improves to 23-16 overall, 7-5 in the Big Ten with its win while Penn State now is 11-28 on the year, 2-12 in the conference after its loss.
The weather system that dumped an estimated 80 billion gallons of rain on Cook County, helped raise Lake Michigan six inches since April 1 and resulted in the Mississippi River rising 35 feet at St. Louis (all according to WGN weather guru Tom Skilling) followed the 'Cats to State College, where it poured long enough to push the original 5 p.m. CT start back to 6:32 p.m. CT.
Northwestern did plate three runs quickly in the top of the first after the delay. With one out, Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) slammed a single up the middle before quickly moving to second when Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) was smacked by a pitch. Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic), who is hotter than the sun at the plate right now, drove a double to the wall that scored Majam and, after a throwing error, Bast. Letourneau moved to third on the error before coming home on an Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) sacrifice fly for a 3-0 NU lead.
Letourneau, also the starting pitcher in the game for NU, struck out the side in the top of the first before reaching five Ks through the second when she stranded a two-out double.
Penn State would score one run in each of the third and fifth innings, but each time great defensive plays from NU limited the scoring to a single Nittany Lion. With runners at second and third and one out in the third, the batter hit a shot back up the middle. Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) made a tremendous dive from her second base position to glove it and get an out at first, limiting the Nittany Lions to just a single run in the process.
After a tough 1-2-3 Northwestern top of the fifth in which Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) crushed a one-hopper to the second baseman and Majam lined out to left, Penn State continued its comeback. With runners at second and third and one out after a sacrifice bunt, the next batter singled to right to score one, but Olivia Duehr's (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) strong throw held the tying run at third. Letourneau then was able to notch her seventh and eighth strikeouts to keep NU on top by one.
The Northwestern offense seized on Letourneau's momentum to explode for five runs on six hits including a double and three homers in the sixth inning. Bast opened the frame with a rocket of a double into left before coming around to score on a Letourneau single. Fran Strub (Coralville, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana) entered to run for Letourneau before trotting around the bases on a one-out Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) home run to center, her fourth homer of the season.
Later, with two outs, catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) mashed a remarkable solo home run over the scoreboard in left for her third round-tripper of the year. Duehr followed with back-to-back 'Cat jacks when she sent her fifth of the season over the wall in center to extend NU's lead to 8-2.
The inning continued with a Scharkey infield single that knocked Penn State starter Macy Jones (10-12) from the circle. The new hurler, Rachel Myers, walked Majam and Bast to load the bases before recording the third out to keep the Wildcats out of run-rule territory.
Letourneau returned to the circle and reached 10 strikeouts in a scoreless bottom of the sixth. She now has 11 starts this season in which she has fanned double digit opponents. In the bottom of the seventh, Penn State loaded the bases with no outs. Leteourneau got the next batter to foul out to Bast before coaxing a comebacker, but the throw to the plate popped out of Tonz's glove to allow the runner to score before Letourneau shut down the rally.
Letourneau (15-9) picked up the complete-game win, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits and five walks with 10 strikeouts. Letourneau also went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for NU at the plate while Majam was 2-for-3 with a walk and a run. Bast scored twice and DiPrima drove in two.
Northwestern and Penn State resume their series with game two at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. local) tomorrow, Saturday, April 20.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!