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    No. 11 Northwestern Wallops Western Illinois, 6-0

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Sophomore Lauren Delaney's one-hitter Friday against Western Illinois was her 17th shutout of the season.
    Sophomore Lauren Delaney's one-hitter Friday against Western Illinois was her 17th shutout of the season.

    May 16, 2008

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    Press Conference Video
    Coach Drohan talks about her team's performance
    Drohan talks about the rivalry with DePaul
    Pauly talks about NU's next opponent

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Sophomore Lauren Delaney (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) threw a one-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts, and Northwestern hit a trio of home runs to defeat Western Illinois, 6-0, Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Regional at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.

    With the win, Northwestern advances to the Evanston Regional winner's bracket game at 11 a.m. CT tomorrow, Saturday, May 17, against No. 19 DePaul. The Blue Demons defeated Drake, 3-1, in their opening-round game Friday afternoon.

    The Wildcats now are 38-13 overall on the year with their win, while the Westerwinds are 14-32 with their loss. NU has won 28 games in a row at home dating back to April 15 of last year, and is 10-1 in its opening game of the NCAA Tournament in 11 all-time appearances.

    Delaney was nearly untouchable in tossing her 17th shutout of the year, improving to 35-8 overall by allowing only a fourth inning single and three walks to the Westerwinds. She has not allowed a run in her last 28 innings pitched.

    Northwestern kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, getting a leadoff home run from sophomore Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) to take a 1-0 lead. The homer would not be the last for the Wildcats in the game, or for Pauly either.

    In the bottom of the fourth, freshman Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) hit a solo shot of her own with one out, sending a blast over the fence in left center for her 13th homer of the season. Pauly followed with her second home run in as many at-bats in the game, making NU's cushion three, 3-0.

    Pauly's pair of power shots give her a team-best 15 on the season, eclipsing her previous career high of 14 set as a freshman. She now ranks fourth all-time at NU with 29 career home runs.

    Northwestern added some more offense in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Darcy Sengewald (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) led off the frame with a single into center, then was safe at second one out later when a fielder's choice grounder by junior Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) was mishandled at second for an error. The play precipitated a pitching change for Western Illinois, with Courtney Jacobson replacing starter Lori Pankratz (8-13) in the circle.

    Batts then stepped to the plate and ripped a double into the right-center field gap, scoring both Sengewald and Williams to make the NU lead five, 5-0. Sophomore Ashley Lafever (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) entered to run for Batts at second, then Pauly was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with one out. After junior Erin Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) nearly ended the game early with a fly out to the fence in left, her sister Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) ripped a single into center to score Lafever from second and give NU a 6-0 advantage.

    Batts, Pauly and Kelly Dyer all finished with two hits for NU, with Batts driving in three and Pauly knocking in two and scoring twice for the 'Cats.