May 9, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 4 seed Wisconsin scored five runs in the third inning Saturday of a quarterfinal matchup at the 2014 Big Ten Tournament at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, holding off No. 5 seed Northwestern to advance, 5-4.
Northwestern falls to 33-16 overall on the season with its loss while Wisconsin improves to 34-17 with its victory.
Northwestern came out aggressive right from the start playing as the visiting team on its home field. Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) set the tone with a double on the first pitch of the game, then moved to third when a Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) sacrifice bunt was mishandled for an error. With runners at second and third, Wisconsin successfully threw out Majam on a double steal attempt, but that allowed Allard to cross home for a 1-0 NU lead.
The inning continued with a two out rally featuring an Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) walk, an Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) single and a Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) hit by pitch to load the bases. Wisconsin starter Taylor-Paige Stewart was able to get the next out to keep from being in a huge whole early.
Northwestern starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) came out dealing in the first two innings, fanning the first two Badgers she faced and setting down the first seven in order. In the top of the third, the Wildcats pushed their edge to 3-0. Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) started the rally with a leadoff walk before moving to second on Edwards' second hit of the game. LeBeau was hit by a pitch again to load the bases with one down before Andrea Filler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) drove home one with an infield single and Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) knocked in another with an RBI groundout.
Midway through that third inning, Wisconsin replaced its starting pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart with Cassandra Darrah.
Wisconsin found the scoreboard with its first base runners of the contest in the bottom of the third. With one out, the Badgers got a walk, a hit and a Northwestern error to plate one run. Wisconsin later got runners to second and third and was able to notch a two-out single and a home run to take the lead, 5-3, on four unearned runs.
Northwestern bounced back for one run in the top of the fourth. Bast was hit by a one-out pitch and motored to second on a DiPrima infield single. Later, with two outs, LeBeau dropped a double just past the dive of the shortstop behind third base to bring Bast in and make the score 5-4.
Majam led off the sixth with Northwestern's fifth hit by pitch of the game. She stole second but was stranded there in part because, for the second time in the game, DiPrima was denied of a home run by the biting wind on a drive to deep center.
Wood continued her strong recovery from the rough third, holding Wisconsin scoreless the rest of the way. In the top of the seventh, LeBeau led off with an infield single to reach base for the fourth time in the contest. Filler sacrificed her to second but the inning ended when Tonz scorched a line drive right at the shortstop, who caught it and tagged LeBeau for a game-ending double play.
Wood (18-9) took the loss, allowing five runs (just one earned) on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
Allard, Edwards and LeBeau all had two hits each in the game while Bast scored twice. NU struggled to get the big run-scoring knock in this game, stranding nine on base through four innings of play and 10 total.
Northwestern now awaits the NCAA Tournament selection show on Sunday night to find out its postseason fate.
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