May 14, 2011
Site: University Park, Pa. (Beard Field)
Score: Penn State 3, Northwestern 2
Records: NU (23-20, 5-13 Big Ten), Penn State (29-22-1, 11-8-1 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Season Complete
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Northwestern and Penn State played a back-and-forth affair Saturday in the 2011 season finale at Beard Field, with the Nittany Lions coming out on top, 3-2, in the end.
Northwestern concludes its season with a 23-20 overall record, 5-13 in the Big Ten, after today's game. Penn State is 29-22-1 on the year with its win, 11-8-1 in the conference. The Wildcats completed their 10th-straight winning season under 10th-year head coach Kate Drohan.
Today's game marked the final appearance for senior Wildcats Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North), Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North), Jessica Smith (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon), Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) and Jordan Wheeler (Garden Grove, Calif./Los Alamitos).
Several school single-season records fell this season despite Northwestern playing its fewest regular season games since 2002 this season, getting only 43 in after rain across the country canceled 11 contests. Junior Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), who long ago surpassed her own school mark of 48 walks set last year, finished this season with 66. Her 1.54 walks per game rate is the second-highest in NCAA Division I history. She also obliterated Tammy Williams' school record .538 on-base percentage set in 2008 with an incredible .707 mark -- unofficially the second-best in NCAA Division I history behind Jen Yee of Georgia Tech's .732 set in 2010.
Sophomore Emily Allard
(Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) and Monka both surpassed the former .448 batting average school record set by Williams in 2009, with Allard claiming the new standard at .491 while Monka concluded her junior season with a career-best .461 mark. Allard had two more steals Saturday to finish the season with 45 total, one shy of the school single-season record of 46 set in 1995 by Susan Harrelson.
Penn State opened the scoring Saturday in the bottom of the first, getting a run on a two-out wild pitch from Northwestern starter Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) to take a 1-0 edge. The freshman recovered to fan two and retire the side in order in the second.
Northwestern went down in order until Quinn opened the top of the third with a single under the glove of a lunging second baseman. Freshman Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) sacrificed Quinn to second before, one out later, Allard singled Quinn to third. After Allard stole second, Thompson then chopped a ball high off the infield dirt, scoring Quinn and moving Allard to third before her single finally came back down to a glove with the game knotted, 1-1.
Penn State regained the lead immediately in the bottom of the third. A single and a walk followed by an errant throw led to an unearned run and a 2-1 Nittany Lion advantage with one out in the frame. The next batter up crushed a grounder back to Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) at second, who fired home to put out a runner booking for the plate. From there Albanese got out of the jam to keep NU's deficit at a single run.
Northwestern again tied the game, 2-2, in the top of the fourth. With one out, Wheeler shot a double to the fence in right center, then came around to score when Albanese entered the offensive lineup from her flex position and smashed a double of her own to the fence in left center.
In an increasingly see-saw battle, Penn State hit a one-out solo home run that bounced off the top of the wall in left and over to retake the advantage, 3-2.
Allard led off the fifth with her second hit of the day to give herself 23 multi-hit outings in 43 games this year (53 percent). She then stole her second base of the day and moved to third on Thompson's 16th sacrifice of the season, but she was stranded there.
Wheeler got her second hit of the game with one out in the sixth before Tonz got a two-out single back over second base, but again no runs came of the NU rally. In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff walk led to the senior Smith taking over in the circle for Albanese. Smith got a prospective sacrifice bunter to pop out, coaxed a shallow fly out to center then fanned the final batter for a great inning of relief.
In the top of the seventh, the senior Thompson got a one out base hit for her second knock of the game, but the game ended with no further NU runs.
Albanese (7-7) took the loss, going 5.0 innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts. Smith went 1.0 inning with a K.
At the plate, seniors Thompson and Wheeler both had a pair of hits for NU along with the sophomore Allard.
Northwestern's season now is complete. We'd like to pass along a big thank you to all of our family, alumni, friends and fans of the program for following us all season long. During the off season, be sure to continue reading Kristin Scharkey's Schark Bytes blog at NUsports.com! We'll see you in 2012!
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