May 10, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sixth-ranked and No. 2 seed Northwestern scored twice in the fourth and twice in the fifth before riding a strong pitching performance from senior Eileen Canney (Paradise, Calif./Paradise) to a 4-0 victory over No. 7 seed Michigan State Thursday evening in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
With the win, the Wildcats (44-10) advance to the semifinals to face No. 3 seed Michigan, which defeated Illinois, 4-0, in Friday's (May 11) first game of the day. That semifinal contest will begin at 4 p.m. CT Friday afternoon. Michigan State falls to 33-26 with the loss.
The early going was all pitching, with Canney dueling Michigan State hurler Lesley Noel (9-8) zero for zero. Both held the other team scoreless through the first three innings, with Canney notching seven Ks through four frames and Noel getting three through three.
The Wildcats were able to break through for the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, freshman Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) singled hard through the right side of the infield, then one out later sophomore Erin Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill/Lockport) lifted a home run over the right-field wall to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
The blast was Dyer's 11th of the season, tying her with Pauly for third on the team this year and for fifth in NU single-season history. The home run also was Dyer's fourth in Northwestern's last three games.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. After Darcy Sengewald (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way East) reached on a single to center, senior Katie Logan (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol) reached on an error by the MSU shortstop. One out later, senior Garland Cooper (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) ripped a single back up the middle to score Sengewald. A great throw to the plate by center fielder Nikki Nicosia hit Sengewald, however, before bounding into the NU dugout to allow Logan to cross the plate for a 4-0 lead.
Canney continued to cruise from there, eventually racking up 12 strikeouts to earn the complete-game shutout. She improved to 26-8 on the season, matching her win total from a year ago that ranks second in NU single-season history. She allowed three hits and no walks in the game.
Logan finished the game with a pair of singles for the 'Cats.