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    Wildcats Complete Senior Weekend Sweep of Spartans, 6-2

    May 4, 2014

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    Northwestern Northwestern 6, Michigan State 2
    Evanston, Ill. • Sharon J. Drysdale Field

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    Michigan State Spartans

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern put a bow on a beautiful Senior Weekend Sunday with a 6-2 win over Michigan State to complete a sweep of the Spartans.

    Northwestern concludes the regular season with a 32-15 overall record and is 14-9 in the Big Ten. Michigan State falls to 12-36 with its loss and finishes the year 4-19 in the conference. Final Big Ten standings and seeds for the 2014 Big Ten Tournament, hosted by Northwestern at Sharon J. Drysdale Field May 8-10, will be announced later Sunday afternoon.

    Northwestern starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) struck out the side in order in the top of the first, then worked a perfect second inning as well. At that point, the Northwestern offense kicked in. Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) led off the second with a walk before senior Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) stepped into the batter's box. She tomahawked the first offering from the Michigan State pitcher with Kung-Fu Panda ferocity, unleashing a hellacious line drive that never got farther than 20 feet off the ground before slamming into the McGaw Hall façade past left field for a two-run Senior Day home run.

    The blast put NU up 2-0 and was the third of Albanese's career. The inning continued afterward with a senior Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) single and a Julia Kuhn (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) double to left center, but Michigan State turned a line drive into an inning ending double play.

    Michigan State got its first base runners of the game on a leadoff walk followed by an error in the third. Wood recorded strikeouts against the next two batters before a second walk loaded the bases. No worries for Wood, who got a pop up back to herself to end the inning with no runs across.

    Michigan State replaced its starting pitcher Kelly Smith with Valerie Kaff to begin the third inning, and the new hurler did well to limit Northwestern to a single single in the frame. The Spartans then got on the board with a leadoff home run in the fourth to cut the Wildcats' lead in half, 2-1. Later, with two outs, MSU got a double followed by a single into left field. Majam charged the ball and fired home to Tonz at the plate in time to nail the runner and end the inning with NU still on top.

    After two run-rule wins in the first two games of this series, Northwestern found itself in a dogfight entering the bottom of the fifth and set out to add cushion to its advantage, which it did to the tune of four runs. Senior Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) kicked off the inning with a walk before her classmate Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) was hit by a pitch. Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) drove Majam in with a single to center, then LeBeau cranked a line drive similar to Albanese's second-inning laser beam into the left-field bleachers for a three-run home run and a 6-1 NU lead.

    LeBeau's blast was her team-leading 10th of the year.

    The inning continued with Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) and Tonz singles before Michigan State got out of the frame.

    As brilliant sunshine enveloped the field after chasing the day's gray away, Albanese entered the circle in relief in the top of the seventh of her Senior Day. Michigan State would add one run to its total with a two-out double before Albanese shut the door on the 6-2 result.

    Wood (18-8) picked up the win, fanning nine in 6.0 innings in the circle while allowing one run on three hits and three walks. Albanese surrendered one run on a hit and a walk in 1.0 frame.

    Albanese led NU at the plate with a 2-for-3 game including two RBIs and a run. Tonz also had two hits while LeBeau drove in three and scored twice.

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