May 8, 2011
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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Drysdale Field)
Score: Northwestern 4, Indiana 1
Records: NU (23-18, 5-11 Big Ten), Indiana (35-16, 15-3 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: May 13, 2011 -- at Penn State (University Park, Pa.), 4 p.m. CT Big Ten Network
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Locked in a pitcher's duel and trailing by a run against Indiana on Senior Day Sunday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, Northwestern saw freshman Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) step up big with a fifth-inning grand slam to give the Wildcats a 4-1 victory in their final home game of 2011.
With the win, Northwestern now is 23-18 overall on the year, 5-11 in the conference. The Wildcats snapped the Hoosiers' 15-game winning streak with their win, the longest winning streak in the nation entering Sunday. Indiana now is 35-16 on the season, 15-3 in the Big Ten after its loss.
Indiana took the first lead of the game with a two-out rally in the top of the first, forcing in a run on a bases-loaded hit by pitch for a quick 1-0 edge.
Sophomore Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) led off the Northwestern half of the first with an infield single, using every inch of her blazing 6-foot-tall speed to beat the ball to first. One out later, Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) drew a walk to force Allard to second, then Bast shot a single into center field. The fielder charged the ball and came up firing, nailing Allard at the plate despite a great slide by the speedster. The inning ended with no runs across for the 'Cats.
Just as it happened the day before, the game settled into a pitcher's duel between Northwestern senior Jessica Smith (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon) and Indiana senior All-American Morgan Melloh. Base runners were rare after the first, with Smith needing just five pitches in the fourth to retire the side in order (the final two on a single pitch each).
After Smith's abbreviated fourth, Northwestern got the game's next threat going in the bottom half of the inning. Monka worked a leadoff walk, giving way to pinch runner Lauren Ackerman (St. Louis, Mo./Home schooled) at first. Senior Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) then ripped a one-out single into right to move Ackerman to second. Freshman Amanda Mehrsheikh (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central) replaced Batts at first.
Senior Jordan Wheeler (Garden Grove, Calif./Los Alamitos) then was robbed of an RBI hit when the IU third baseman dove to her left to glove a rocket liner headed for the fence in left. Senior Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) kept the rally going with a walk to load the bases, but the inning ended at that point.
Smith returned the defensive run-saving favor in the top of the fifth. With two outs and a runner at second, the Hoosier at the plate crushed a ball with bad intentions that was destined for either Smith's body or center field. Smith lunged for it with pure self-preservation instinct and gloved it while sinking to the dirt, ending the inning and sending a surge through the large crowd at the park.
If Smith's play caused a crowd surge, Northwestern's bottom of the fifth blew a few circuit breakers. The frame began when Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) reached on a throwing error by the IU shortstop. Allard sacrificed Scharkey to second, then senior Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) earned an infield single to move Scharkey to third. Indiana elected to intentionally walk Monka to load the bases, then, on Senior Day, a freshman stepped into the box and unloaded on a Melloh offering. Bast sent the first pitch she saw soaring over the fence in left center for the first grand slam of her career, giving NU a 4-1 lead with her fifth home run of the season.
Three-up, three-down innings followed NU's runs until the top of the seventh. After Smith recorded the first out herself on a comebacker, the next IU batter singled to left. Smith then got a looking strikeout with a beautiful back door pitch before a swinging K ended the game and gave NU the Senior Day victory.
Smith (8-10) earned the win, going the distance and allowing one run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Bast concluded the game with a pair of hits and her four RBIs.
Northwestern returns to action in its final Big Ten series of the year at Penn State. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT Friday, May 13.
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