May 5, 2012
Site: East Lansing, Mich. (Secchia Stadium)
Score: Northwestern 5, Michigan State 1
Records: NU (23-27, 10-10 Big Ten), Michigan State (11-38, 0-19 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: May 6, 2012 -- at Michigan State (Secchia Stadium), Noon CT
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Freshman Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) took a no-hitter into the fifth inning of Saturday's second game of a doubleheader at Michigan State, eventually earning a 5-1 win in an NU sweep of the day.
Northwestern improves to 23-27 on the season with its win, 10-10 in the Big Ten. Michigan State now is 11-38 on the year with its loss, 0-19 in the conference.
Northwestern opened the scoring in the top of the first without benefit of a hit. Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) reached base with one out on an error before stealing second. She moved to third on a one-out groundout by Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) before Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) worked a lengthy 13-pitch walk. With runners at first and third, Bast took off for second, drawing a throw. She danced it out long enough between the bags to allow Majam to scamper home for a 1-0 lead before Bast was officially tagged and "caught stealing."
Letourneau took the circle with the advantage and needed just nine pitches to set the Spartan side down in order. In the bottom of the second, Michigan State got runners to the corners with two outs, but Letourneau escaped by getting a pinch hitter to line out softly to Bast's left side at third base.
Northwestern added to its lead in the top of the third. With one out, Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) singled up the middle and promptly swiped second base. Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) then smashed a single into center to score Scharkey while moving to second herself on the throw home. Monka then smacked an 0-2 pitch into the right-center field gap for a run scoring double and a 3-0 NU lead going to the bottom of the third.
During a scoreless bottom of the third for Michigan State, Allard made a defensive play at short worth noting. The Spartan leadoff batter pummeled a short hopper her way and Allard went to the backhand to glove it. The ball popped off the heel of the glove into the air, where she grabbed it in motion with her bare hand and fired smoothly to first in plenty of time for the out.
Letourneau had a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth again with some nice defensive help when Bast charged a slow roller up the third base line and used her cannon of an arm to get the runner by a half step.
The top of the fifth resulted in no runs for Northwestern but it was an eventful frame including an error, the plate umpire emphatically ringing up a batter on an 0-0 count, a runner called out for leaving early and a stolen base where the throw went behind the runner and eventually led to an inning-ending 8-2 putout at the plate.
Michigan State broke up Letourneau's no-hitter with a two-out double down the left-field line in the bottom of the fifth. The left fielder Majam made a dive with no regards for her personal safety in an attempt to preserve the no-no, coming up just short of the ball. Letourneau went right back to work in the circle, sitting down the next batter to preserve the shutout.
Majam led off the top of the sixth with a hit by pitch, then stole second base. Monka followed her with a soaring home run that tailed away from center toward right and over the fence for a 5-0 Northwestern lead. The shot tied Monka with Bast for the team lead this season at 12 and gave Monka 53 home runs for her career, tying her with Nicole Pauly (2007-10) for fourth all-time at Northwestern.
Michigan State changed pitchers after the home run and the new hurler hit Bast with her first pitch of the game. Bast then moved to second on a Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) single into the hole at short, but the inning eventually would end with no more NU runs across.
Michigan State got its third hit of the game to leadoff the bottom of the seventh, eventually turning that into a run with a two-out double to account for the 5-1 final score.
Scharkey had a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate with a steal and a run. Monka went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run, driving in three. Combined with her four RBIs in game one Saturday, Monka had a seven RBI day. Majam went 0-for-3 at the plate but stole two bases and scored two runs.
Letourneau allowed four hits and three walks in the game, fanning five. She improved to 10-9 overall on the season with her victory.
Northwestern and Michigan State conclude their series at noon CT tomorrow, Sunday, May 6.
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