Boilermakings makes post-season noise

Many of the spring sports are winding to a close, so the time to make some postseason noise is at hand for many of Purdue's teams. That is exactly what happened this past weekend.

Softball sweeps Indiana, locks up second straight NCAA berth - It has been a bad year in the Crimson and Gold Cup for Purdue. Indiana locked up the series back in March as Purdue performed poorly in many sports, but the Boilers have gained some respect back with a solid spring. Purdue continued its trend of winning points in the higher profile sports this past weekend as the softball team swept IU on Saturday in Bloomington to close the regular season. That gives Purdue wins in football, men's basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, and little else. The Hoosiers were one of the worst teams in the Big Ten this season, but they still fought Purdue to a pair of one run extra inning games.

The Boilers took game 1 Saturday afternoon 2-1 in eight innings. Candace Curtis singled home Liane Horiuchi (who was featured on Big Ten Tonight last night) in the top of the eighth to give Purdue a lead. Suzie Rzegocki got her 23rd win on the season in the pitching circle by going the distance for the win. Jenna Alexander gunned down IU's Emily Bergeson on a steal attempt after a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth. Rzegocki then got a strike out and ground out to finish the game.

 

Game two was also an eight inning affair, and Curtis once again came through with the game winning run. This time she scored the winning run, coming home on Katie Mitchell's sacrifice fly to right field. The win gave Purdue a 12-8 mark in conference play on the year, the program's best mark since 1997. The 29-18 overall mark also made for a bit of a long wait until 10pm last night to find out if the Boilers would make their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. ESPN thought the Boilers would be in, and that was confirmed as Purdue is headed to Louisville for an NCAA regional this coming weekend.

Purdue is seeded third in the four team field and will face host Louisville (47-9) in the second game Friday night. Arizona (41-14) is the number one seed in the field and the #9 national seed overall. Tennessee-Martin (38-22) rounds out the field. Purdue suffered numerous rainouts early in the season, so they haven't played nearly as many games as the other three teams. It will be a tough road for Purdue to come out of the regional, but they do have a few things in their favor.

The Boilers did win a game last season in a very tough regional at UCLA. It was the program's first ever NCAA appearance and they did get a win over Cal State Fullerton despite losing two close games to Nevada. Purdue also has a win this season over #2 overall seed UCLA, #11 Ohio State, #12 Northwestern, and #14 Georgia Tech. They also faced #5 Michigan, and #16 Florida State on the year. Since they ended up playing six national seeds and beating four of them they won't be afraid of the tough field in Louisville.

Women's Golf finishes second at NCAA Regional - If a program at Purdue is going to win a national championship soon it is the women's golf team.  The program is once again headed to the national championships with a second place finish to UCLA in the Central Regional at Ohio State over the weekend. The NCAA championships will be in two weeks in Owings Valley, Maryland hosted by Georgetown. 24 teams will comprise the field from three regionals across the country.

Maude-Aimee LeBlanc was the highest individual finisher for Purdue, finishing 4th overall, while Maria Hernandez was two strokes behind in fifth place. LeBlanc's three round score of 218 was six shots behind UCLA's individual winner, Maria Jose Uribe.

 It is the 10th consecutive year Purdue is heading to the NCAA Championships, and they are definitely a threat to win the whole thing. Unfortunately, UCLA won the Central Regional by 22 strokes and they are the #2 seed heading into the championships. Purdue finished 4th at the championships last season after a runner-up finish in 2007

Baseball hangs on for dear life - One run games have killed Purdue this year in baseball. The Boilers have dropped one run affairs against Northwestern, Ohio State (twice), Minnesota, and Indiana in conference play alone. Saturday was more of the same as the boilers lost at Michigan State 6-5 to open it series with the Spartans. Things finally turned in Purdue's favor yesterday as Purdue squeezed out a 9-8 win over the Spartans to stay live in the race for the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue scored five runs in the top of the ninth mostly thanks to Eric Charles. The redshirt freshman had a three run triple and also scored in the inning to give Purdue a 9-3 lead, but Kevin Cahill struggled once again to close things out. Cahill was tagged for five runs of his own in the bottom of the inning before Drew Wurdack came on to notch his first save of the season. Cahill has been erratic with five saves, but he has a 6.11 ERA on the season and has blown more than one closing opportunity. That shows just how much Josh Lindblom meant to Purdue last season.

Michigan State's Saturday win clinched a Big Ten Tournament bid for the Spartans. They will be joined by Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio State in Columbus in two weeks. The sixth and final spot is still up for grabs, but Purdue (21-23, 8-11) controls its own destiny with one game remaining against the Spartans today at 1pm. (Ed Note: As of press time, Purdue was leading the Spartans 9-3 in the 9th) Michigan (27-23, 8-13) lost two of three against Minnesota this weekend, so a Purdue win today would give the Boilers a 1.5 game lead over the Wolverines. Penn State (24-23, 7-14) has a very small chance to still make the tournament, but it must sweep second place Minnesota and hope first place Illinois sweeps Purdue to have any shot. Iowa and Northwestern are eliminated.

Purdue simply has to get at least one game next week against the Illini at Lambert Field. The Boilers would be better served to win at least two, as Michigan travels to Northwestern who is just 3-13 in conference play. Assuming Purdue holds on to win today, Purdue needs any combination of Boilermaker wins and Michigan losses adding up to two next weekend.

Purdue had a snowout earlier in the season against Northwestern that was not made up, so missing that game helps in that they can finish tied in the win column with Michigan and get the final tournament berth, but it hurts as they Boilers missed a chance to get another conference win against one of the weakest teams. Purdue also was one of Northwestern's three conference victims, as they split the two games that were played.

UPDATE: Purdue held on to beat Michigan State 9-3 Monday afternoon, moving to 22-23 overall and 9-11 in Big Ten play. The series win over Michigan State is their fourth series win of the Big Ten season. Purdue now holds a 1.5 game lead over Michigan and 2.5 game lead over Penn State with each having three games to play for the final Big Ten Tournament spot.

Quick hits:

  • Women's basketball adds transfer from Maryland
  • Incoming women's basketball player Sam Ostarello was named Miss Basketball in South Dakota
  • Three Track and Field athletes qualified for NCAA Regionals this past weekend
  • Men's basketball loses a scholarship due to a low APR from all the recent transfers out of the program - A quick note on this one. It should be noted that every player currently on the team is doing very well academically. We're mostly suffering because of a rash of transfers from the end of the Keady era and the beginning of the Painter era.
  • CFN posted Wisconsin's preview for the season - Looks like a lot of questions for the Badgers. This may be a game we can steal.

 

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