Ann Arbor, Mich.-- After having their chances at a conference championship ended in Ann Arbor last weekend, the Northwestern Wildcats began their attempt at a Big Ten Tournament title on Thursday. The Wildcats opened up the post-season tournament with a 2-0 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers. First-team All-Conference pitcher Courtnay Foster threw a seven-inning complete game shutout to earn the victory and junior Kristen Amegin provided enough offense to make her pitcher's efforts stand up.
After the Wildcats defeated the Boilers by a combined 16 runs in their two meetings during the regular season, the Purdue squad came out ready to play in the post season tournament. Sophomore pitcher Brooke Baker held the potent Wildcat lineup to just two runs on the game, but the `Cats made them count.
They got on the board in the second inning when Northwestern's all-time and single-season homerun leader, Amegin led off with a solo homerun to give Northwestern the early 1-0 lead. The round-tripper was the 13th for Amegin on the season.
In the bottom of the fifth, freshman first team All-Conference shortstop Stephanie Churchwell reached with a single up the middle and first team outfielder Erin Mobley advanced her with a sacrifice bunt. After a passed ball, with Churchwell on third, Big Ten Player of the Year Garland Cooper hit a bouncer to second team All-Big Ten third baseman Shelli Messer. Churchwell was running on the pitch and the throw by Messer arrived home in plenty of time to record the out. Cooper reached on the resulting fielder's choice and after second team All-Conference catcher Jamie Dotson walked, Amegin drilled a ball just inside the left field line. The throw by leftfielder Catherine Zaworski cut Dotson down trying to advance to third, but not before Cooper crossed the plate to score the Wildcats' second run.
Amegian recorded the game's only two RBI on a 2-3 hitting night. Northwestern centerfielder Sheila McCorkle and Churchwell also recorded a pair of hits apiece.
The run was the last allowed by Baker who went six innings scattering eight hits and giving up only two runs. However, she was out-dueled by Foster who struck out seven against one walk allowed.
With the victory, the Northwestern Wildcats advance to the tournament's semifinals and will face off against the winner of the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes and No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions. The Hawkeyes and Lions will meet in Friday's first game, scheduled for 12:00 noon ET. The Wildcats defeated Iowa 11-1 and 2-0 in the Big Ten's opening weekend and defeated Penn State 3-0 and 2-1, the second game on a dramatic Churchwell two-run homer in the seventh.
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