May 15, 2014
SEATTLE -- Northwestern and BYU were locked in a scoreless battle through four innings in the opening game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament before the Cougars broke out for five runs in the fifth inning and held the Wildcats off 7-2 in Seattle.
BYU (34-21) extends its current winning streak to 16 games with the victory. Northwestern now is 33-17 on the year with its loss and will return to action in the Friday loser's bracket game at 5:30 p.m. CT/3:30 p.m. PT against the loser of Thursday night's Washington and Iona game.
As often happens in the NCAA Tournament, a pitcher's duel broke out immediately in this game between Northwestern starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) and BYU starter Tori Almond. NU went down in order in each of the first two innings while BYU waiting until the third to start a rally, getting runners to second and third on a two-out error and infield single. Senior centerfielder Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) then ranged far to her right into the left-centerfield gap to track down a fly ball to end that rally.
Northwestern got its first hit of the game with two outs in the bottom of the third courtesy of junior Julia Kuhn (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South), but the Cougars' left fielder was perfectly positioned to catch an ensuing Allard line drive to end the inning.
BYU again got a runner to third with two outs in the fourth inning via a two-out triple, but Wood got an easy pop out this time to escape the jam.
Northwestern nearly pushed across a run in the fourth during the first controversial moment of the tournament. With one out, Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) singled to center and moved to second when an Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) grounder destined for right was robbed on an incredible dive for out number two. Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) followed with a fly ball to shallow center that the fielder dove for and rolled over, coming up with it in her non-glove hand. Neither base umpire had rotated out to make a call, so after a delay the home plate umpire called Edwards out from near the backstop to end the inning.
BYU took the momentum afforded by two diving plays in the bottom of the fourth and turned it into five runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-0 lead in the game.
Northwestern responded by getting on the board itself in the bottom half of the frame. Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) ripped the first pitch of the inning down the left field line for a single, then moved to second on a one-out walk to Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial). BYU made a nice play to eliminate Tonz at second on a Kuhn ground ball, then pinch runner Fran Strub (Coralville, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana) entered to run for Kuhn at first.
Allard followed with a first-pitch rifle into right-center field that was cut off deep in the gap, allowing both LeBeau and Strub to score while Allard never stopped running en route to a triple that cut the BYU advantage to 5-2. At that point, BYU changed pitchers and Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) greeted her with a line drive toward left that was caught with a leap to end the inning.
BYU got both of those runs back in unearned fashion in the top of the sixth, one on a force out at the plate where out was called and later overturned by a field umpire resulting in an error, and another on a bases-loaded single to make it 7-2 to conclude the rallies and the scoring.
Wood (18-10) took the loss, throwing 5+ innings and allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Bond tosses 2.0 inning of relief, allowing one unearned run on two hits and three walks.
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