May 3, 2013
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Alumni Field)
Score: No. 10 Michigan 2, Northwestern 1
Records: NU (30-19, 12-8 B1G), Michigan (42-9, 18-2 B1G)
Next NU Event: May 4, 2013 -- at No. 10 Michigan (Wilpon Complex), Noon CT (BTN)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In a game as representative as any in the fiercely contested and high-level series between Northwestern and Michigan over the last decade plus, the 10th-ranked Wolverines pulled out a 2-1 decision over the Wildcats Friday night in the first game of a three-game set at Alumni Field.
The loss snaps Northwestern's five-game winning streak and is just NU's third loss in its last 13 games. The Wildcats now are 30-19 overall on the season, 12-8 in the Big Ten. Michigan improves to 42-9 overall with its win, 18-2 in the conference. In seasons in which both programs have gone to the NCAA Tournament since the Drohans took over in Evanston in 2002, Michigan now holds a 10-9 edge in the series.
Michigan starter Sara Driesenga retired the first six Wildcats she saw while Northwestern ace Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) worked around single base runners in each of the first two frames. Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) was the first Wildcat to reach base when she drew a full count leadoff walk in the top of the third, moving to second on a Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) sacrifice. With two outs, a Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) high chop went directly to the second baseman to end the inning.
Michigan then opened the scoring in the bottom of the third. After a runner representing a one-out base hit moved up to second on a subsequent groundout, the Wolverines got a two-out single to take a 1-0 lead. NU was able to end the inning on the next play when the lead runner rounded third too far and the Wildcats caught her in a rundown to send the game to the fourth.
Junior Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) made a bid to tie the game in the top of the next inning, sending a one-out rope to right but it was going directly into the teeth of the breeze blowing in from that direction, allowing the fielder to settle under it one step in front of the wall. While the hard hit did not result in a run, it certainly sparked a rally which did.
Now with two outs in the fourth, Letourneau drew a walk to successfully reach base for the 18th-straight game, then Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) shot a single through the left side of the infield. Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) followed with a sharp single of her own toward the left-center gap to bring Letourneau around and knot the score, 1-1.
Both pitchers worked 1-2-3 half innings in their next frames in the circle before Michigan began the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff double. Letourneau then fanned the next batter to the plate, Jaclyn Crummey, who led the Wolverines with a .431 average entering the game and had only struck out five times all season long. The next two batters, however, followed with singles to give the home team the lead back, 2-1. Later, with the bases loaded and still one out, the batter hit a fly to medium center field. Scharkey caught it and fired a laser to Tonz at the plate where the tag was applied to end the frame.
In the top of the sixth, Bast drew a one-out four-pitch walk before Letourneau worked herself a 2-0 count. She swung at the next pitch and annihilated a ball that one-hopped into the breadbasket of a kneeling second baseman. She was able to recover and start an easy 4-6-3 inning-ending double play because of the speed with which the ball was hit.
After Letourneau stranded a pair of two-out base runners from Michigan in the bottom of the sixth with her sixth strikeout of the game, Edwards drew a leadoff walk to begin the top of the seventh. She moved up on a one-out LeBeau ground out, but the game-tying hit was not coming on this night.
Letourneau (20-11) took the loss, allowing two runs on seven hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
Northwestern and Michigan face off again in game two of this series at noon CT/1 p.m. local tomorrow, Saturday, May 4. The game is one hour earlier than originally scheduled to accommodate a live telecast on BTN.
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!