April 22, 2014
URBANA, Ill. -- Freshman Nicole Bond (Clayton, N.C./Clayton) fired a one-hit shutout with a career-best nine strikeouts Tuesday to help No. 25 Northwestern sweep a Big Ten doubleheader at Illinois with a 9-0 (6) run-rule win in game two.
Northwestern's sweep is its second straight in a Big Ten series after taking three games from Indiana last weekend. The run-rule win was the 11th of the year for NU. The Wildcats now are 29-11 overall on the season, 11-6 in the Big Ten with the victory. Illinois falls to 19-23 on the year, 3-14 in the conference with its two Tuesday losses.
Bond (5-0) allowed only a leadoff single in the second inning and a hit batter in the sixth to reach base in the contest. After the single in the second, she retired 11 straight batters. She threw just 86 total pitches to top her previous career-best outing, a two-hit shutout of Western Michigan at the USF Under Armour Showcase in March.
In the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, Northwestern scored all six of its runs in the first three innings before being retired in order in each of the final four. The Wildcats did not let that momentum bleed into Game 2, beginning immediately when Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) tripled to lead off the game. One out later, she trotted home when Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) flew out to the warning track in deep center field for a quick 1-0 NU lead on the sacrifice fly.
The Wildcats threatened again in the top of the third, loading the bases with two outs on a Julia Kuhn (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) infield trick shot magic single, Allard's second hit of the game and a two-out walk to Bast. All three outs in the frame, including the final one, came on nice defensive plays from the Illini to keep NU's lead at just 1-0.
Sophomore Andrea Filler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) added a run to Northwestern tally with a two-out solo home run to dead center in the top of the fourth inning. The blast was her fourth of the season.
Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) led off the top of the fifth with a booming double, leading Illinois to replace starter Shelese Arnold with Jade Vecvanags, who retired all 12 Northwestern batters she faced in relief in Tuesday's first game. That did not happen, this time.
Allard reached on an error in the first at-bat after the Illini switch, then Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) deadened an infield single to load the bases. One out later, Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) lofted a single into center to move everyone up a bag, forcing Duehr across the plate. Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) followed with a two-run single out into center to make the score 5-0 headed to the bottom of the fifth.
Bond's consecutive batters retired streak ended at 11 with a two-out hit by pitch in the bottom of the fifth, but she quickly bounced back to strike out a pinch hitter on three-straight pitches to end the frame and reach seven strikeouts in the game.
Northwestern forced the game into run-rule territory with four runs in the sixth. Kuhn led off with her second hit of the game and gave way to pinch runner Fran Strub (Coralville, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana). Duehr then reached on an error before Allard's third hit of the contest loaded the bags with no outs.
The scoring began when Majam put a ball in play to third that was mishandled for an error. Bast then continued her big RBI day with a two-run single to left to make the score 8-0 and give her six runs batted in across the doubleheader. Illinois again changed pitchers, and, one out later, LeBeau was hit by a pitch to re-load the bags before Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) was issued a walk to push home Majam and conclude the scoring at 9-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, Bond struck out the first two batters she saw before a groundout ended the game.
LeBeau was a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBIs in the contest while Allard went 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored. Kuhn had two hits, Duehr scored twice, Bast drove in three and Majam crossed the plate two times, as well.
Northwestern returns to action in its final Big Ten road series of the season April 25-27 at Ohio State. Friday's game begins at 5 p.m. CT/6 p.m. ET.
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