Missed Opportunities Stifle Illini in Series Opener at Northwestern
April 5, 2013
Evanston, Ill. - The Fighting Illini had at least two base runners on in every inning, but were unable to get a hit off reigning National Player of the Week Amy Letourneau, falling 8-0 in five innings to the neighboring Northwestern Wildcats. The win lifts NU to 17-14 (3-3 Big Ten), while Illinois falls to 11-19 (1-6 Big Ten).
The Wildcats got on the board early, knocking around Shelese Arnold for four hits and three runs in the bottom of the first. Kristin Scharkey started things off with a walk and a stolen base. Mari Majam followed with an RBI single just past Jessica Davis up the middle, plating Scharkey. Marisa Bast made it second and third with a double off the wall in left field, before Arnold struck out Letourneau for the first out. The `Cats scored a second run on a passed ball, which turned out not to matter, as Anna Edwards clocked one to right center, scoring Bast. She rounded second trying to stretch it to a triple, but paid the price, getting thrown out at third on a Smith-Bauch-Repole relay. Nevertheless, Northwestern was out on top, 3-0, after one.
Despite the three-run hole, the Illini had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game, getting at least two runners on base in every inning due to eight walks, two hit batters and an error. However, Letourneau registered her second Big Ten no-hitter in eight days, striking out eight Illini and keeping the Orange and Blue from getting that clutch RBI.
Arnold settled in after the first inning, allowing just one hit and no runs over the next three frames. However, Bast led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to the gap in left center. After the Illini got two big outs in the outfield, Andrea DiPrima picked up the two-out RBI on a single to shallow center to start a key two-out rally for the `Cats. Brianna LeBeau kept it going with an infield single and Meghan Lamberth loaded the bases on an error by Davis, whose view on the ball was obstructed by the runner heading to third. Olivia Duehr then roped a bases-clearing double to centerfield to send three unearned runs across the plate, and Scharkey finished it off, as Remeny Perez dropped Katie Repole's throw from third to allow the eighth run to score and cut the game short.
Jessica Davis walked three times in the game, Jess Perkins walked twice, and Alex Booker walked to load the bases in the fourth, but without putting the ball in play, the Illini could not get it done.
Majam, Bast and DiPrima all went 2-for-3 in the game, as Arnold allowed nine hits and three walks, striking out three and giving up four earned runs in 4.2 innings.
The Illini return to Drysdale Field on Saturday for game two of the three-game series, with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Northwestern will broadcast the game on WNUR, which you can hear on 83.9 FM in the Chicagoland area or online at WNUR.org.