May 27, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 4 seed Northwestern walked in a pair of runs to tie Massachusetts in the sixth inning in the second game of the teams' NCAA Super Regional Saturday afternoon at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, then ripped a two-run double in the top of the seventh to complete a 4-2, come-from-behind win and force a third game in the best two-of-three series.
The Wildcats and Minutewomen will play the rubber match of the series immediately this afternoon with the winner advancing to the Women's College World Series. Game time is set for 3:52 p.m.
Northwestern's overall record now is 46-13, while UMass is 41-15.
UMass continued its ridiculous fielding from Friday's game right away in the first. With one out, freshman Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) crushed a head-high drive to the left of the shortstop, but she lunged left and made a look-what-I-found grab to retire Williams.
In the bottom half of the frame, junior left fielder Katie Logan (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol) announced the presence of the Northwestern defense. Amanda Morin led off with a blooper that Logan sprinted up to and grabbed with a full dive and a shoestring catch for out number one.
More crazy defense showed up in the very next half-inning. Northwestern put runners on first and second with no outs courtesy of a Jamie Dotson (Santa Ana, Calif./Foothill) walk and a rocket of a single into center by senior Kristen Amegin (West Sacramento, Calif./Elk Grove). Freshman Ann Schraufnagel (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) replace Dotson on the base paths during the sequence.
Senior Sheila McCorkle (Costa Mesa, Calif./Mater Dei) then hit a soft liner to second base. Kristi Stefanoni charged forward and caught the ball at her shoestrings in time double off both runners for a triple play.
UMass took the early lead in the third inning after a two-out, two-strike bunt single by Candice Molinari preceded a two-run home run from Whitney Mollica.
With the Massachusetts' defense smothering any and every shot off Northwestern's bats, the Wildcats turned to patience to tie the game in the top of the sixth. Sophomore Darcy Sengewald (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way East) led off the inning with a walk before Whitney Mollica at third lunged to glove a laser-beam off the bat of Logan.
With one out, Williams drew a full-count walk before UMass starter Brandice Balschmiter drilled Garland Cooper (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) square in the back with a 1-2 pitch.
With the bases juiced and still just one out, Dotson worked a full-count walk to allow Sengewald to trot home with NU's first run of the game. Amegin then did the exact same thing, turning a 1-2 count into a second-consecutive bases-loaded walk to knot the score, 2-2. Williams scored the tying run, giving the NU single-season record holder an even 60 on the year.
In the top of the seventh, the large Sharon J. Drysdale Field crowd that went nuts in the sixth simply exploded. After Sengewald lined out to first in yet another amazing defensive catch by the Minutewomen, Logan beat out a two-out, infield hit to the catcher. Williams then drove a single into centerfield, allowing Logan to move to third and advancing Williams to second on the throw.
UMass elected to intentionally walk Cooper -- her 11th intentional pass of the year -- to load the bases still with two outs.
Dotson then ripped a two-strike pitch down the left-field line for a double, scoring Logan and Williams and setting off pandemonium at the ballpark. Northwestern starter Courtnay Foster (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) then retired the Minutewomen in order in the bottom of the seventh, striking out the final batter for a 4-2 win.
Foster finished with nine strikeouts, surrendering two runs on three hits and four walks. She improves her record to 23-6 on the year with the win.
Dotson finished the game with three RBIs and Williams scored a pair of runs.