May 9, 2013
Site: Lincoln, Neb. (Bowlin Stadium)
Score: Northwestern 6, Indiana 3
Records: NU (31-21), Indiana (19-35)
Next NU Event: May 10, 2013 -- vs. No. 4 Seed Wisconsin (Bowlin Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.), 11:30 a.m. CT
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Playing the first game in the newly re-instated Big Ten Tournament after having won the most recent installment in 2008, No. 5 seed Northwestern began the 2013 edition with an opening round 6-3 win over No. 12 seed Indiana Thursday at Nebraska's Bowlin Stadium.
Northwestern now advances to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. CT tomorrow, Friday, May 10, against No. 4 seed Wisconsin, which received a first-round bye. NU is 31-21 overall on the season while Indiana concludes 2013 with a 19-35 mark. The Wildcats are 21-12 all-time in Big Ten Tournament play.
NU got its slugging percentage on in this contest, pounding out seven extra-base hits (four doubles, three home runs) among its 11 total in the game.
Northwestern starter Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) worked around a leadoff single and two total base runners in the top of the first, securing a scoreless start with the help of a pair of Ks. Indiana got a one-out runner in the second before an infield popup to Julia Kuhn (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) at first led to an unassisted double play when the runner lost track of the outs and took off at the crack of the bat.
The Wildcats opened the 2013 Big Ten Tournament scoring in the bottom of the second when Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) sent a soaring fly ball to left that had just enough juice to fight through the wind and get over the fence for a 1-0 Northwestern lead. Edwards' shot was her eighth of the season and the 13th of her career.
Indiana tried to rally back immediately in the top of the third with a leadoff triple that led to a bases-loaded situation with one out. Letourneau fought through full-count at-bats to the next two Hoosiers, getting the first to hit a tough grounder to Edwards at short that the sophomore fielded expertly before throwing home to force the runner at the plate. The next 3-2 count resulted in an easy comebacker to keep Indiana off the scoreboard.
Seizing on the momentum of the moment, Northwestern broke out its bats in the bottom half of the inning. Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) led off with a double then came around to score on a one-out Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) single. Junior Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) then followed with a mammoth home run to left -- the 12th home run of the season for Bast and the 30th homer of her career.
At that point, Indiana changed pitchers from starter Meaghan Murphy and Letourneau greeted Lora Olson, the new hurler, with a double. Letourneau would eventually come around to score on an Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) double to make the score 5-0 after three innings.
Indiana got on the board in the top of the fourth with a leadoff home run before again loading the bases with one out. Letourneau again got a grounder on the infield, this one to Bast at third, which resulted in an out at the plate, before the next Hoosier drew a full-count walk on two exceptionally close pitches to end the at-bat. With the score now 5-2, Letourneau ended the inning with a grounder to Edwards at short.
Letourneau got one of those runs back herself in the bottom of the fifth with a no doubt solo blast to make it a 6-2 ballgame. Later in the frame, DiPrima rocked her second double of the game to give her a team-best 14 on the year, NU's most in a single year since 2007 and tied for fifth all-time on the 'Cats single-season list. The inning would end before DiPrima could come around to the plate.
Indiana loaded the bases for the third time in the game in the top of the sixth, this time with a two-out rally. Once the sacks were packed, Letourneau got a fly ball down the line in left that the wind kept just in play enough for Majam to grab while lightly colliding with the bullpen fence in foul territory to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Indiana brought its third pitcher, Brooke Boetjer, into the game. Duehr annihilated a pitch to dead center in the subsequent at-bat, but the wind held it up enough for the IU centerfielder to make the catch up against the fence right at the 225-foot sign.
With the Wildcats still up by four, 6-2, in the top of the seventh, Letourneau hit a batter with the bases loaded on a 3-2 count with two outs to force in a run, but then got out of the jam for the 6-3 victory, stranding 14 Hoosiers total on the base paths in the contest. She improves to 21-12 on the year with her 28th complete game of the season, allowing three runs on five hits and eight walks with five strikeouts.
Letourneau led NU at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance including a double, a home run and two runs scored. Both DiPrima (two doubles) and Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) (two singles) had 2-for-3 days at the plate while Bast drove in two runs to give her a team-best 44 on the year.
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