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    No. 12 Northwestern Uses Eight-Run Fourth to Mercy-Rule Ohio State, 8-0 (5)

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Lauren Delaney fired a one-hit shutout to defeat Ohio State in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament Friday.
    Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Lauren Delaney fired a one-hit shutout to defeat Ohio State in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament Friday.

    May 8, 2008

    Box Score

    Press Conference Video
    Watch Coach Drohan's opening statement
    Watch Coach Drohan discuss NU's eight-run fourth inning
    Watch Coach Drohan talk about the balance of her batting order

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 1 seed and 12th-ranked Northwestern erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and got a one-hit shutout from Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Lauren Delaney (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) to defeat No. 8 seed Ohio State, 8-0 (5), Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.

    The win is Northwestern's seventh-consecutive first-round victory in the Big Ten Tournament, a streak dating back to 1998. The Wildcats have advanced to the semifinals every year since since the single-elimination format was adopted in 2004. NU will play in Friday's second semifinal game at 4:30 p.m. CT against the winner of Friday morning's final quarterfinal matchup between No. 4 seed Minnesota and No. 5 seed Purdue.

    Northwestern now is 35-13 overall on the year, while Ohio State falls to 33-23 with its loss.

    Ohio State threatened in the bottom of the first, getting runners to second and third with one out after a leadoff walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt. A choppy grounder to junior Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) at short led to an out at the plate, then Delaney notched a strikeout to end the frame.

    Both teams' pitchers were tough to get to through the early going in the game. Northwestern put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the first against OSU starter Kim Reeder on a Williams' single and a walk to freshman Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North), but nothing came of the rally.

    Delaney settled down to fan the side in the bottom of the second, at one point striking out five Buckeyes in a row from the first to the third innings.

    In the bottom of the fourth, Northwestern exploded for all the runs it would need. Junior Erin Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) drew a one-out walk, then was replaced by pinch runner Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest). Sophomore Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) then lofted her second single of the game into right field to move Euler to second before both runners moved up on a passed ball.

    Freshman Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) followed with a flare single into right field, bringing Euler home to give the Wildcats the first run of the game. A fielder's choice bunt from freshman Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) that resulted in some confusion from the Buckeyes' defense loaded the bases still with one out.

    Senior Darcy Sengewald (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) then stepped into the bases loaded situation and shot an RBI single into left. Pinch hitter Emily Haug (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) followed Sengewald with a rocket single of her own into left, scoring both Quinn and Thompson to give NU a 4-0 lead. Sengewald moved to third and Haug to second on the throw home, then freshman Jordan Wheeler (Garden Grove, Calif./Los Alamitos) re-entered the game for Haug at second base.

    Reeder (18-16) then hit Williams with a pitch to again load the bases before being lifted in favor of Megan Miller for the Buckeyes. Miller immediately issued Batts a walk to force home Sengewald before sophomore Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) drilled a double into center to drive in both Wheeler and Williams and give the Wildcats a seven-run cushion, 7-0.

    With Batts now at third, pinch runner Ashley Lafever (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) entered the game to run. She scampered home with the game's final run on a ball four wild pitch to Kelly Dyer.

    Delaney then closed out the game with a pair of groundouts and her seventh strikeout, moving to 32-8 on the season with a one-hit shutout.

    Kelly Dyer finished the game 2-for-2, while both Haug and Pauly drove in two runs for the 'Cats.