Game #4: #5 Northwestern 10, #12 Michigan State 4
Northwestern plated three runs in the bottom of the second inning to open the game’s scoring. Andrea Filler hit a 1-out, three-run home run that scored Brianna LeBeau and Andrea DiPrima.
Michigan State answered with four runs in the top of the fifth and claimed a 4-3 lead. Sarah Bowling cleared the bases with a grand slam over the left field fence, scoring McKinzie Freimuth, Sarah Gutknecht and Jacquie Reiser.
The Wildcats countered with six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 9-4 lead. Northwestern added an insurance run in the sixth inning following an RBI double by Filler.
Northwestern advances to Friday’s quarterfinals. The Wildcats will take on fourth-seeded Wisconsin Friday night at 7 p.m. CT.
Game #3: #9 Illinois 6, #8 Iowa 0
Illinois did all of its damage in the top of the 7th inning, scoring six runs on eight hits.
Nicole Evans led off the frame with a solo home run, the first of four straight Illinois hits to begin the inning. Alex Booker drove in Allie Bauch to put the Illini ahead 2-0, and Brittany Sanchez’ single up the middle two batters later scored Booker to make the score 3-0.
Remeny Perez cleared the bases with two outs, homering to right field to push Illinois’ lead to 6-0 and complete the game’s scoring.
Illinois advances to Friday’s quarterfinals. The Fighting Illini will take on top-seeded Michigan beginning at 4:30 p.m. CT.
Game #2: #7 Ohio State 6, #10 Penn State 2
Ohio State scored one run in the bottom of the first inning and four in the second to jump out to a 5-0 lead. First-team All-Big Ten honoree Evelyn Carrillo drove in Caitlin Conrad for the first run, and Conrad hit a three-run home run in the ensuing frame.
The Buckeyes’ Cammi Prantl, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, drove in Taylor Watkins, another first-teamer, to put Ohio State ahead 6-0 in the fourth inning. Penn State tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the sixth after Karlie Habitz and Macy Jones collected RBI.
Ohio State advances to Friday’s quarterfinals. The Buckeyes will take on second-seeded Nebraska at 1:30 p.m.
Game #1: #6 Purdue 4, #11 Indiana 2
Indiana jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings. Second-team All-Big Ten performer Breanna Saucedo homered to lead off the game, and CaraMia Tsirigos led off the second frame with a solo home run.
Purdue scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning to tie the score, 2-2. First-team All-Big Ten standout Ashley Burkhardt hit a two-out home run to drive in fellow first-teamer Andie Varsho. The Boilermakers then added two runs on three hits in the fifth, with Varsho and Burkhardt again crossing home to complete the game’s scoring.
Purdue advances to Friday’s quarterfinals, where the Boilermakers will take on third-seeded Minnesota beginning at 11 a.m. CT. The Gophers took two of three from Purdue last weekend to end the Big Ten regular season.
BIG TEN SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
The 2014 Big Ten Softball Tournament gets underway on Thursday with four games in the opening session. First pitch from Sharon J. Drysdale Field on the campus of Northwestern is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT. This page will be updated throughout the tournament with the latest scores and information from Evanston.
Thursday’s Big Ten Softball Tournament Schedule:
#6 Purdue vs. #11 Indiana – 11 a.m. (BTDN)
#7 Ohio State vs. #10 Penn State – 1:30 p.m. (BTDN)
#8 Iowa vs. #9 Illinois – 4:30 p.m. (BTDN)
#5 Northwestern vs. #12 Michigan State – 7 p.m. (BTDN)
Big Ten Tournament Storylines:
• For the first time since 2008, the Big Ten Tournament will be played at Sharon J. Drysdale Field on the campus of Northwestern. Action gets underway on Thursday with opening round contests, followed by the quarterfinals on Friday. Both semifinal contents and the championship game will be held on Saturday.
• The Big Ten Tournament Champion will receive the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. The tournament is being played in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2007 and 2008. From 2009-12, no postseason tournament was held, and the Big Ten’s first-place finisher was declared the Big Ten Champion and NCAA automatic qualifier.
• BTN will provide live coverage of the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game, while Thursday’s first round games will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network (BTDN).
• Michigan has won a conference-best nine Big Ten Tournament titles. Northwestern has captured three tournament championships, while Iowa has won the Big Ten Tournament crown twice. Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin have all collected one tournament title, with Wisconsin accomplishing the feat last season in Lincoln, Neb.
• Entering the Big Ten Tournament, the Big Ten has eight teams rated among the top 75 in the NCAA RPI, including five top-50 squads. Minnesota leads the way at No. 17, followed by No. 18 Michigan, No. 19 Nebraska, No. 37 Northwestern, No. 38 Wisconsin, No. 64 Illinois, No. 69 Ohio State and No. 71 Purdue.
• Three Big Ten teams are ranked among the top 20 in the most recent top 25 polls, with two additional squads receiving votes. Michigan leads the way at No. 11 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, followed by No. 16 Minnesota and No. 18 Nebraska. In the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, the Wolverines appeared at No. 10, followed by No. 15 Minnesota and No. 18 Nebraska. Northwestern and Wisconsin received votes in both ballots.