May 5, 2013
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Alumni Field)
Score: No. 10 Michigan 9, Northwestern 3
Records: NU (30-21, 12-10 B1G), Michigan (44-9, 20-2 B1G)
Next NU Event: May 9, 2013 -- vs. No. 12 Seed at the Big Ten Tournament (Bowlin Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.), 11:30 a.m. CT
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After No. 10 Michigan took an early lead Sunday in the final game of the 2013 regular season, Northwestern fought back with a big home run before two late Wolverine homers gave the home team a 9-3 victory.
Northwestern concludes the regular season with 30 victories, its most since compiling 31 in 2009 and earning the No. 12 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. NU enters next weekend's Big Ten Tournament with a 30-21 overall record and has a final conference mark in 2013 of 12-10. Michigan, the league's regular season champion, is 44-9 overall, 20-2 in the B1G after its win Sunday.
Northwestern will be the No. 5 seed at the Big Ten Tournament, meaning it will open the entire event at 11:30 a.m. CT Thursday, May 9, against the No. 12 seed (either Penn State or Indiana) at Nebraska's Bowlin Stadium. The winner of that first round game will advance to play No. 4 seed Minnesota in the quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. CT Friday, May 10.
NU will enter the tournament as the defending champion after having won it in 2008 at Sharon J. Drysdale Field in Evanston before the tourney was suspended by conference scheduling changes. The Big Ten Tournament was brought back due to the addition of Nebraska -- and eventually Maryland and Rutgers -- to the league. NU will host again in 2014.
Northwestern put a couple of runners aboard in the top of the first when Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) made use of an infield that ranks near eight on the Mohs scale to bounce a ball high in the air and reach first before the single fell to the shortstop. With two outs, NU's starting pitcher Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) drew a walk at the plate to extend her streak of consecutive games reaching base to 20, but U-M starter Sara Driesenga escaped.
For the third game in a row, Michigan scored first, though in this game it came without a hit. A two-out hit by pitch and walk put two runners on, then with a two-strike count NU's catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) framed the second of two very close pitches at the plate that were called balls. While Tonz was framing, the runner at second took off for third and then for the plate when the throw down got away for an error. Then, in the bottom of the second, a one-out walk came around to score on a two-out bloop single to center to make the home team's edge 2-0.
Northwestern found the big hit it had been searching for all weekend long in the top of the third. With two outs in the inning, both Majam and Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) drew walks. Then Letourneau, who entered the series batting .531 and slugging 1.078 in NU's previous 22 games, made the Wolverines pay with a three-run home run into the right-field bleachers to put NU on top, 3-2. Letourneau's shot was her team-leading 12th of the year and the 20th of her career, tying the sophomore with Gretchen Barnes (1999-2002) for 10th in NU history.
Letourneau's blast also upped her RBI total on the season to 41, giving the Wildcats three players with over 40 runs batted in this year: Bast (42), Letourneau (41) and Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) (41).
Michigan struck right back in the bottom half of the third with a one-out two-run home run to re-take the lead, 4-3, before extending its advantage to 7-3 with a three-run homer off the top of the fence and over in the fifth.
Northwestern got back-to-back one-out singles from Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) and Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) in the sixth, but for the third-straight game in the series, No. 10 Michigan was able to escape an NU rally with a 4-6-3 double play. The Wolverines then took advantage with a two-run double in the bottom half to extend their lead to 9-3, where it would stay.
Letourneau (20-12) took the loss in the circle, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on six hits and five walks with six strikeouts. She also led NU at the plate with a three RBI day.
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