May 25, 2007
Box Score |
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Second-seeded Northwestern got an early two-run home run from sophomore Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola), then took advantage of a trio of South Carolina miscues to run away from the Gamecocks, 6-1, in the first game of the NCAA Super Regional.
With the win in the best two-of-three series, the Wildcats (49-11) move to within one victory of a return trip to the Women's College World Series. USC (38-25) must win game two Saturday then an if-necessary contest to advance.
After senior Eileen Canney (Paradise, Calif./Paradise) struck out the South Carolina side to begin the game, Northwestern made some noise to begin the bottom half of the first. Senior Katie Logan (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol) led off with a double down the left-field line, then Williams reached first on a dribbling single to third. A walk one out later to freshman Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) loaded the bases.
Sophomore Erin Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) then hit a fly ball into medium right field for the second out of the inning, and Ashton Payne made a strong throw home to nail Logan trying to score to end the inning with no runs across.
The Wildcats put the game's first runs on the board in the bottom of the third. With one out, Logan lofted a single over the head of the shortstop. Williams then jacked a soaring home run over the fence in center field to stake Northwestern to a two-run lead, 2-0.
The blast was Williams' 14th of the season, tying her personal-best set last year. That total is the second-highest in school single-season history behind teammate Garland Cooper's (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) school-record 21 this year.
In the circle, Canney carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning until a little one-out infield dribbler allowed Payne to reach first ahead of the throw for a base hit. After a sacrifice bunt move Payne to second, Canney recorded her 10th strikeout of the game to end the frame.
In the bottom of the sixth, Northwestern added a four-spot on a pair of hits and three USC miscues. Williams led off with a single to the pitcher for her third base knock of the game, then moved to second when Cooper was issued a four-pitch walk. Pinch runner Ashley Lafever (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) replaced Cooper. Pauly then hit a bounding ball to short that was mishandled for an error, allowing Williams to come around score and keeping runners at first and second with no outs.
Dyer followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt, but South Carolina starter Melissa Hendon (20-18) missed first with her throw for another error, allowing Lafever to scamper home for a 4-0 NU lead. Pauly ended up at third on the play, and freshman Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) replaced Dyer at first.
On a swinging third strike to sophomore Jessica Rigas (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest), Euler took off for second, stealing the bag successfully. The throw from catcher McKenna Hughes skipped into center for the third USC error of the inning, and Pauly ran home for the third run of the frame.
With Euler now at second, freshman Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) scalded a double into the gap in left-center, plating Euler for a six-run NU lead, 6-0. All of the Wildcats' runs in the inning were unearned on the record of Hendon.
With two outs and two strikes in the top of the seventh, Lindsay Walker hit a solo home run for South Carolina to put the Gamecocks on the board with their second hit of the game, making the score 6-1. Canney then fanned the next batter to end the game.
Canney picked up her 30th win of the season, moving to 30-9 to become the second Wildcat to ever reach the 30-victory plateau. All-American Lisa Ishikawa holds the school record with 33 wins in 1984. Canney allowed one run on two hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts in the victory.
Williams finished 3-for-3 in the game with two RBIs and two runs scored. Logan was 2-for-3 for the 'Cats.
Northwestern and South Carolina will face off in the second game of the Super Regional at 1 p.m. CT Saturday, May 26. Should the Gamecocks win that contest, an if-necessary game would immediately follow.