May 11, 2012
Illinois Game Highlights
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: Northwestern 7, Illinois 3
Records: NU (26-27, 13-10 Big Ten), Illinois (27-25, 10-13 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: May 12, 2012 -- vs. Illinois (Sharon J. Drysdale Field), 1 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern stole five bases during a four-run first inning Friday in the second game of a Big Ten doubleheader against Illinois at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, eventually breaking its program single-game record with eight steals in a 7-3 win over the Illini.
Northwestern now has won five-consecutive games and seven of its last eight to improve to 26-27 on the season, 13-10 in the Big Ten. Illinois falls to 27-25 overall on the year with its loss, 10-13 in the conference.
Just as it did in the first game Friday, Illinois took the game's first lead in the second contest, this time driving in a one-out walk with a two-out single to center against Northwestern starter Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) for an early 1-0 edge.
Junior Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) led off Northwestern's half of the first with a sharp single to center, giving her a 10-game hitting streak -- her third double-digit hitting streak of the season. Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) followed with a full count walk before Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) loaded the bases with the 187th walk of her career.
Sophomore Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) immediately tied the game with a sacrifice fly to medium left field that brought Allard in and moved Majam to third. Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) entered the lineup at that point to run for Monka at first, stealing second to put 'Cats at second and third with one out. Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) then singled through the left side to bring Majam in and put NU into the lead, 2-1.
Later in the inning, with two outs, Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) popped up a bunt that the first baseman dove for but missed, allowing everyone to be safe and Tonz to come home on a single. Albanese and Duehr then worked a double steal to perfection with Duehr drawing a throw to second and Albanese sliding in safely at the plate around the tag on the return toss to make Northwestern's lead 4-1. All told in the inning, NU stole five bases.
Illinois responded with a rally in the top of the second, loading the bases on two singles and an error before a one-out single made the score 4-2. At that point, junior Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) entered the circle in relief of Albanese. The next batter singled through the left side to cut NU's lead to 4-3 before Lamberth got two fly ball outs to shallow center and left, preserving the Wildcats' edge going to the bottom of the inning.
Illinois threatened again in the top of the fourth but Allard ended the inning with a 6-3 double play, moving deftly to her left to glove a grounder before stepping on second and firing to first.
Northwestern then added to its lead in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Scharkey sent a single out into centerfield before stealing second base. Allard then dribbled a perfectly placed slap through the right side of the infield to bring Scharkey home for a 5-3 NU edge.
Lamberth responded to her team's run with a shutdown top of the fifth, retiring the side in quick succession before again blanking the Illini in the sixth. Northwestern then added more insurance to its total in the bottom of that inning.
With one out, Duehr smashed a single through the third baseman before coming all the way around to score when Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) rocked a towering double into the gap in right center. After Scharkey singled into left to push Edwards to third, Illinois inserted game one starter Pepper Gay into the circle.
Scharkey immediately stole second base for the record-breaking eighth steal of the game for NU before Allard brought Edwards home with an RBI groundout, making the score 7-3.
In the top of the seventh, Illinois got its leadoff runner on before two deep flyouts. Lamberth then got a strikeout, but it went for a wild pitch third strike to keep the game going. No worries, the next batter grounded out to end the game.
Allard, Albanese and Scharkey each had two of NU's stolen base total while Duehr and Tonz also added steals. Allard finished with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, driving in two. Duehr and Scharkey both had a pair of hits for the Wildcats.
Lamberth (11-12) earned the win in relief, going 5.2 shutout innings while allowing four hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Albanese went 1.1 innings in the start, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk with one strikeout.
Northwestern returns to action on Senior Day at 1 p.m. CT tomorrow, Saturday, May 12, in its series finale against Illinois. NU's Purple Auction will follow the game in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
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