Northwestern Hands Michigan 5-2 Semifinal Loss
May 11, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio - No. 2 Northwestern battled back from an early two-run deficit to deny third-seeded Michigan, 5-2, in Big Ten Tournament semifinal action. A clash of perhaps the two most balanced teams in the conference, the game was highlighted by its offensive prowess evident in a 13 hit game.
Michigan lit up the board first when Angela Findlay started the inning with a single to the right side. After advancing on a sacrifice bunt and errant Wildcat throw, Findlay found herself at third with no outs. Wildcat pitcher Eileen Canney bore down to strike out the next Wolverine batter before designated hitter Roya St. Clair hit a fundamental sacrifice fly to deep right field to score Findlay. The Northwestern ace got the next batter to ground out to end any more Wolverine momentum.
The Wolverines tacked on another run in the third to increase their lead 2-0. This time it was older sister Samantha Findlay who contributed a two out single up the middle to score a speedy Alessandra Giampaolo from second. But that was all Michigan could manage against Canney, who quieted the Wolverines in the remaining innings. Canney threw a six hit complete game for the Wildcats that included seven strike outs and no free passes.
The Purple and White were hardly silent in these early innings, threatening with Wildcat runners at second in each inning, but not being able to execute. Finally, Northwestern broke through in the third when the Wildcats scared off starting pitcher Nikki Nemitz, who walked in two runs to relinquish the lead. After an intentional walk to Freshman of the Year Nicole Pauly loaded the bases, Nemitz hit Erin Dyer, who came into the game hitting .155, and walked in Jessica Rigas to tie the score at 2-2.
Head coach Carol Hutchins had seen enough and went to her senior pitcher Lorilyn Wilson for relief. With the bases still loaded and only one out right fielder Jessica Miller sent a shot down the left field line to plate two more Wildcats. Wilson got of the tight jam with no further damage after striking out and forcing a ground out to end the inning.
The Wildcats added an insurance run to go ahead 5-2 in the fourth when three-time Player of the Year, Cooper, hit a towering fly ball to dead center that hit the wall and scored a hustling Tammy Williams from first.
The hitting barrage finally subsided and the score remained until the final out as Northwestern advances into Saturday's Big Ten Championship game. The Wildcats will face the winner of Friday's second semifinal game between #1 Ohio State and #5 Purdue slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Starting pitcher Nikki Nemitz (21-5) picked up the loss for the Wolverines, allowing four runs on four hits in 2.1 innings of work.