Tammy Williams and Garland Cooper hit back-to-back home runs in a four-run second inning, and Eileen Canney tossed a five-hit shutout as Northwestern eliminated Baylor with a 7-0 win Saturday night at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
It was the second straight WCWS that the two went back-to-back, as they accomplished the feat in a win over UCLA in 2006.
The win pushes the Wildcats into a showdown with Tennessee, a team that they faced twice last season. NU has to defeat the Lady Vols, who have been paced by Monica Abbott’s back-to-back 16-strikeout performances, twice to make a return trip to the national championship series.
“We’re excited to be playing Tennessee again,” Cooper said. “I will be a fun game. Abbott is a tough pitcher, but all pitchers you face at this level are tough. It’s about beating the best teams, and they’re one of the toughest teams and so are we.”
Northwestern struck in the first and never looked back in advancing into a showdown with Tennessee. Tammy Williams scored the first of her two runs on the night as she was hit by a pitch. After Garland Cooper walked, Nicole Pauly grounded into a fielder’s choice to setup Erin Dyer who delivered a one-out single that scored Williams and Cooper.
That would be all the offense Canney would need as she advanced her record to 33-10 after allowing five hits and striking out nine in the complete-game shutout.
“I was proud of the way our team rebounded from last night,” NU head coach Kate Drohan said. “I thought we stuck with our usual routine tonight, and I was proud of the way we bounced back. We were ready to play the game tonight. I was really happy with the way we came out and took control early.”
The Wildcat bats put the game out of reach in the second. Darcy Sengewald led off with a walk and Katie Logan reached on a ground ball that was misplayed by Bears second baseman Alex Colyer. Tammy Williams then took the first pitch she saw over the left field fence for a three-run home run that made it a 5-0 lead.
The home run for Williams was the 16th of the year for the sophomore, and it gives her 30 for her brief collegiate career. She now ranks second on the school’s single-season home run list and third on the career chart.
Garland Cooper followed suit as she deposited a ball over the fence in right-center to put NU up 6-0. The blast was her 17th of the season and it moved her into 19th place on the NCAA single-season home run record book and 18th in the NCAA career annals with 55 round-trippers.
“I think when I hit a home run, she (Cooper) thinks she has to hit one,” Williams joked.
“I just have to keep her head from getting too big,” Cooper jokingly responded.
The four-run second chased Baylor’s freshman starter Kirsten Shortridge, who finished the year 17-6 after allowing the four runs, three earned, on two hits. Lisa Ferguson allowed three runs and scattered five hits as she pitched the final five frames.
Pauly got into the home run act two innings later, knocking a one-out, solo shot out of the park that extended the lead to 7-0. Pauly’s home run, combined with the previous round-trippers from Williams and Cooper, tied the WCWS single-game record. They were the last team to accomplish the feat, hitting three last year in the win over UCLA. The 2000 Bruins hold the single-game mark along with the 2000 Arizona and 1998 Oklahoma State squads.
Baylor head coach Glenn Moore watched the Wildcats put the final run on the board from beyond the left field fence after he got ejected from the game for arguing a call in the bottom of the third inning.
Baylor finished the year 51-16.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Moore said. “They made history and raised the bar for Baylor softball. They are warriors and fought very hard tonight despite some circumstances that they couldn’t control.”