May 11, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No. 2 seed and sixth-ranked Northwestern exploded for four runs in the third inning Friday afternoon at the Big Ten Tournament, defeating No. 3 seed and 10th-ranked Michigan, 5-2, in the first semifinal of the day.
With the win, Northwestern advances to the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the second-consecutive year and for the third time in the last five seasons. The Wildcats now are 45-10 overall, and will face No. 1 seed Ohio State in the championship game, scheduled for noon CT Saturday, May 12. The game will be broadcast live on CSTV.
Michigan falls to 43-11 with the loss. The game was the fourth of the year between the two schools, with Northwestern holding a 3-1 advantage in those contests.
Northwestern put the game's first two runners on base in the bottom half of the first. Sophomore Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) was hit in the head by a Nikki Nemitz offering, knocking her helmet off, but she was fine and trotted down to first base. Senior Garland Cooper (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) followed by fisting a single into right to move Williams to second, but a pair of Nemitz Ks ended the inning.
Michigan pushed the first run of the game across in the top of the second. Back-to-back leadoff singles coupled with an NU throwing error put runners at first and third with no outs. After Northwestern starter Eileen Canney (Paradise, Calif./Paradise) recorded a whiff for the first out of the frame, the Wolverines got a sacrifice fly to right to take a 1-0 lead.
Michigan added another run in the top of the third, getting a two-out single up the middle to score a runner from second to take a 2-0 lead.
Northwestern mounted a rally in the bottom of the third, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring four runs. Senior Katie Logan (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol) led off the frame with an infield single to short, then moved to third one out later when Cooper doubled to right field. Michigan elected to intentionally walk the Big Ten Freshman of the Year Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) to load the bases with one down.
Sophomore Erin Dyer
(Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) followed by working a full count against Nemitz, who then beaned Dyer in the helmet to force Logan across the plate and cut the NU deficit to one, 2-1. Sophomore Jessica Rigas
(River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) immediately drew a full-count base on balls to plate pinch runner Ashley Lafever
(Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) -- in for Cooper -- and tie the game, 2-2.
Michigan responded by lifting Nemitz (21-5) in favor of Lorilyn Wilson in the circle, who then promptly gave up a booming double to the wall in left to senior Jessica Miller (Elberfeld, Ind./Techumseh), scoring both Pauly and Dyer to give Northwestern a 4-2 lead. With Rigas now at third, NU head coach Kate Drohan replaced her with pinch runner Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest), but the Wildcats' scoring would end there.
Northwestern added another run in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-2 advantage. Williams led off the inning with a walk, then scored all the way from first on a soaring Cooper double that bounced high off the wall in center. Williams' run scored was her 65th of the season, tying her own Northwestern single-season record set last year.
Canney shut out the Wolverines after surrendering the two runs in the second and third, improving to 27-8 on the season. She gave up six hits and one earned run, walking none and striking out seven.
Cooper finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI for NU. Miller drove in a pair for the 'Cats.