Northwestern shuts out Ohio State to join Michigan in title game
May 13, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern hurler Courtnay Foster celebrated her teammate Eileen Canney's selection as 2006 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year this week, but in Saturday's semifinal battle against fourth-seeded Ohio State, Foster proved equally valauble to the top-seeded Wildcats. While the Wildcat offense suffered four scoreless innings, the senior pitcher led the regular season champions back to the conference tournament title game for the first time since 2003 with a one-hit, complete game shutout win.
With the sun finally peeking through on Sharon J. Drysdale Field, the hosting Wildcats warmed up and put together a three-run, four-hit fourth inning before taking the victory 4-0.
Ohio State threatened early after an error by Northwestern shortstop Tammy Williams allowed rightfielder Brittany Vanderink to reach first. Leftfielder Megan Schwab followed with the only hit garnered by a Buckeye for the rest of the game, a single to centerfield that sent Vanderink to second. Foster responded with authority, striking out Jamee Juarez and forcing Chelsea Baker to end the inning with a fly out.
From there, Foster didn't relent, retiring nine straight before giving up a walk to Juarez in the fourth inning. But Foster picked up right where she left off, ending the inning with a ground out from Baker and a strike out from Courtney Pruner.
With only three hits to her team's credit in the top of the fifth, sophomore third base Darcy Sengewald finally got things going for the Wildcat lineup. Sengewald took a full-count pitch from Buckeye freshman Kim Reeder and sent it sailing into right center Katie Logan followed with a single put two on for Williams. The Big Ten Rookie of the Year sent a ripped a double to left center, scoring Sengewald and putting runners on the corners for two-time Player of the Year Garland Cooper.
Unwilling to give up any chances to Cooper, who sent home two runs in yesterday's first-round game against Illinois, Reeder threw the intentional walk to load the bases for Jamie Dotson. The senior catcher lifted a line drive to leftfield that sent Logan and a sliding Williams across home plate for the 3-0 lead.
Pruner relieved the freshman pitcher, and managed to get out of the inning without any further damage.With two outs in the second and one on, Juarez almost pulled the Buckeyes with in one with a high fly ball that sailed deep over the left-fence, but it was called foul. On the next pitch, Foster got Juarez to go down swinging to end the inning.
Sengewald gave Northwestern a little security with a solo home run over the left field jump that brought all the Wildcats out of the dugout in celebration. Foster put the lock and key on her team's title game plans with two strike outs to end the game.
Northwestern meets defending tournament champion Michigan in the title contest, which is set to begin at 2:06 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CSTV at 6 p.m. CT.