May 2, 2010
WATCH: Game Highlights
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: Northwestern 9, Penn State 5
Records: NU (24-19, 9-5 Big Ten), Penn State (28-20, 7-9 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: May 5, 2010 -- at DePaul, 4 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- One day after launching a game-winning, three-run home run to defeat Penn State, Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) one-upped herself Sunday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The junior opened her day against the Nittany Lions with a three-run shot, then sent Northwestern to a 9-5 victory with a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the sixth.
Northwestern improves to 24-19 overall, 9-5 in the Big Ten with its win. Penn State now is 28-20 on the season, 7-9 in the conference with its loss.
In the PSU series, Batts finished 4-for-6 with three home runs, a double and 10 RBIs. Including NU's victory over Illinois-Chicago Wednesday, Batts went 6-for-9 with 13 RBIs on the week.
Mirroring Saturday's game in which Penn State took an early 5-0 lead before Northwestern rallied, the Nittany Lions again jumped ahead early on Sunday. PSU scored a pair of runs on four base hits and a walk against Wildcat starter Jessica Smith (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon), but with the bases loaded and still no outs in the frame, Smith limited the damage with a strikeout, a force out at the plate and a lazy fly to Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) in center.
And just as NU responded to any Penn State score in the same inning yesterday, it did so again in the first inning Sunday. Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) drew a leadoff walk before stealing second base. Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) then poked a single back up the middle to score Allard. Penn State starter Lisa Akamine followed up the Monka knock by hitting Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) with a pitch, then Batts opened her encore performance from Saturday.
Batts stung the first pitch she saw from Akamine into the bleachers in left field for her second three-run shot in as many days, launching Northwestern into the lead, 4-2.
Penn State tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the third, plating two on a hit by pitch followed by back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning. When the runner at second moved to third on a passed ball, Smith again settled in and ended the inning, first getting a strikeout before a double play on a failed PSU squeeze squished the rally. The Nittany Lion batter popped up a bunt in foul territory which Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) ran over to catch before spinning and firing back to third, when Allard was covering to complete the DP.
In the bottom of the third, Monka drew a leadoff walk, giving way to pinch runner Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest). One out later, with a runner still at first, Penn State elected to intentionally walk Batts to push Euler to second. Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) entered the game to run for Batts. One out later, Dyer drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases before Jordan Wheeler (Garden Grove, Calif./Los Alamitos) ripped a full-count single into left to bring in Euler, although Quinn was thrown out at the plate to end the inning with NU on top, 5-4.
After Smith held Penn State scoreless in the top of the fourth, Northwestern mounted a serious rally in the bottom half. Thompson led off with a bunt single to the pitcher, then immediately stole second. Allard followed by bouncing a ball high enough off home plate to find Thompson at third and herself safe at first with a single by the time it came down. The knock prompted Penn State to lift Akamine in favor of game one starter Jackie Hill. With pinch hitter Olivia Zolke (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa) at the plate, Allard swiped second for the third time Sunday, but Hill was able to retire all three Wildcats she faced and keep Thompson at third.
Penn State took advantage of the Northwestern runners left on base by tying the game in the top of the fifth. The leadoff batter hit a double, moved to third on a passed ball, then came home on a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-5.
In the top of the sixth, freshman Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) entered the circle in relief. She allowed only a one-out infield single on a ball that Pauly nearly caught with a fantastic dive. In the bottom of the inning, Allard stroked a one-out double into right center before moving to third on a Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) groundout. Penn State then intentionally walked Monka before Pauly was hit by a pitch for the second time to load the bases in front of the previously intentionally walked Batts.
You already know how this story ends, but here are the details: Batts fouled off several pitches during an extended at-bat, barely grazing the final foul ball before pummeling the next pitch, which was in the same location, over the bleachers in right to put NU in the lead, 9-5, and put an exclamation point on a fantastic week for the junior. Batts now has 12 home runs on the season -- one-shy of her single-season best total set as a freshman -- and 32 homers in her career.
In addition to Batts, Allard was a perfect 3-for-3 on the day with two runs scored and three steals. Monka and Pauly both scored twice, and Thompson also had a flawless 2-for-2 day at the plate.
Lambeth (4-2) earned the win with 2.0 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one just one hit. Smith went the first 5.0 frames of the game, giving up five runs on 10 hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Northwestern returns to action at 4 p.m. CT Wednesday, May 5, at DePaul down in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.
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