May 8, 2008
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.