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    Nine-Run Fourth Inning Sends Northwestern Seniors Out on Top, 10-2 (6)

    Mari Majam had a career-best four hits in NU's regular season finale Saturday.

    Mari Majam had a career-best four hits in NU's regular season finale Saturday.

    May 12, 2012

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    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
    Score: Northwestern 10, Illinois 2 (6)
    Records: NU (27-27, 14-10 Big Ten), Illinois (27-26, 10-14 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Regular season complete

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Trailing by a run entering the fourth inning Saturday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, Northwestern sent its senior class out on top with a nine-run Armageddon in the frame, eventually defeating Illinois, 10-2 (6), on Senior Day.

    Northwestern finishes the regular season on a six-game winning streak and with wins in eight of its last nine games. The Wildcats are 27-27 on the year, 14-10 in the Big Ten. Illinois falls to 27-26 overall with its loss, 10-14 in the conference.

    After Illinois took the lead in the first inning in both of Friday's games, Northwestern starter Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) retired the Illini 1-2-3 to kick off Saturday's series finale. In the bottom of the frame, Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) earned a one-out single and with two outs Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) made a serious bid for her 14th home run of the season, but the wind howling in from right toward left knocked it down at the fence for the third out of the frame.

    The Illini did break through in the top of the second, moving a one-out single around on a stolen base and a wild pitch before a two-out single just eluded Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) at first to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

    Both Lamberth and Illinois starter Pepper Gay shut down their opposing offenses with relative ease until the bottom of the fourth when Northwestern experienced an explosion, sending 14 batters to the plate and scoring nine runs -- the second most in a single inning in NU program history. Bast and Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) led off with back-to-back full count walks. Freshman Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) then laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt that was so successful, no throw was made to any base resulting in a fielder's choice, bases-loading play.

    Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) tied the game with the first out of the frame, sending a fly ball to medium center that scored Bast from third on a sacrifice fly. Later, with two outs, the Illini shortstop failed to field a Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) ground ball, resulting in a run scoring error and a 2-1 Northwestern lead.

    An Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) single loaded the bases again before Majam ripped her third single of the game inside the third-base bag to plate two more Wildcats. Following a Monka walk, Bast dumped a single into right center to drive in two more before an Albanese double scored another pair, making it an 8-1 Northwestern lead and knocking Gay from the circle. Edwards greeted the new hurler with a triple into the left-center gap to bring home Albanese and push the game into run-rule territory, 9-1. Senior Olivia Zolke (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa) got a pinch hit appearance to finish off the frame for the Wildcats.

    Illinois escaped the mercy rule in the top of the fifth with a two-out solo home run to make it a 9-2 game. The score remained the same until the bottom of the sixth when Majam led off with her fourth hit of the game, a bruising double into the gap in left. Illinois then issued Monka one final walk at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, this one an intentional pass to first base. A Bast infield single loaded the bases with no outs before Albanese ended the game with a single to left.

    Majam had a career-best 4-for-4 day, scoring twice and driving in two. Albanese was a perfect 2-for-2 with two walks, three RBIs and two runs while Bast was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

    Bast concluded the season with 33 RBIs in Big Ten play, the second-best total in conference history. She also finished the year with the Big Ten regular season batting crown (.414) and RBI title (63), a run-batted-in total which ranks second in NU single-season history.

    Lamberth evened her record for the season at 12-12 with the win, going the distance and allowing two runs on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts.


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