April 30, 2006
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- No. 14 Northwestern got a pair of runs in the first inning, and outstanding pitching from junior Eileen Canney (Paradise, Calif./Paradise) along with strong defense made those stand up in a 2-1 win Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader at No. 12 Michigan.
The win whittles Northwestern's magic number to clinch the Big Ten championship to one. The Wildcats have won 11-straight games and now are 36-10 overall, 14-2 in the conference. Michigan falls to 33-13 on the year, 11-4 in the Big Ten.
Northwestern made its presence known immediately in the first inning. Junior Katie Logan (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol) led off the game with the longest hit of her career, sending a double off the fence right at the 222-foot sign in dead center field -- a home run in nearly every other ballpark in the country. She moved to third when freshman Tammy Williams (El Dorado Springs, Mo./Osceola) hit a ground ball to first that Samantha Findlay mishandled for an error. Wolverine starter Jennie Ritter then issued junior Garland Cooper (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) a five-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs.
Senior Jamie Dotson (Santa Ana, Calif./Foothill) stepped to the plate and lifted a fly ball to medium-deep left field for a sacrifice fly. Logan ran home to score, and Rebekah Milian's throw from left bounced off her back and to the backstop allowing an alert Williams to sprint home and give Northwestern a 2-0 lead.
Michigan got a run back in the bottom of the second. A walk and a single put runners on first and second with two outs before a bunt led to a throw wide of the bag at first. The error cut Northwestern's lead in half, 2-1.
The game became a pitcher's duel after the second, pitting Ritter against Canney in what likely was a match-up of Big Ten Pitcher of the Year finalists.
The Wildcats got base hits in the third and the sixth, but were unable to convert either of those opportunities into runs. Canney held the Woverines to a single hit from the third to the sixth inning.
Behind Canney was some sparkling play at third base by sophomore Darcy Sengewald (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way East), who recorded a team-high five assists with a putout in the game. The Wolverines laid down several very good bunts that Sengewald was able to charge and throw, and in the sixth she showed off her reflexes. To lead off the frame, Findlay crushed a one-hopper to Sengewald's left that she dove for and gloved to throw the All-American out. On the very next play, Sengewald was able to flip her glove and make a shoestring catch of a ball lined right at her feet.
With Northwestern still holding a one-run lead heading into the seventh, Canney fanned the first batter she faced before the Wolverines got a one-out single. A sacrifice and another strong play from a charging Sengewald gave Michigan a runner on second with two outs and All-American Tiffany Haas at the plate. Canney calmly struck out Haas -- Haas' first strikeout in the Big Ten this year -- on three-straight pitches to end the game.
Canney (18-5) allowed just one unearned run on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts. Ritter was tagged with the loss, falling to 21-6 on the year.