Purdue's baseball and softball teams face a busy weekend on the diamonds this weekend as the baseball team plays for its Big Ten Conference fate and the softball teams takes part in the NCAA regional down in Louisville
The baseball team has already gotten a head start, as the final weekend series of the regular season before conference tournaments move back a day to a Thursday-Friday-Saturday format. Purdue needs two wins, two Michigan losses against Northwestern, or one win and one Michigan loss to advance to the Big Ten Tournament next week in Columbus. The Boilers took the first step yesterday with a convincing 12-5 win in the series opener against Illinois.
This was a very impressive win for the Boilers. Phil Haig is the ace of the Illinois staff and Purdue tagged him for 6 runs and 11 hits in five innings of work. Illinois is in the running for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth because of Haig and what he has done on the season. Haig gave up 1 run over seven innings of work earlier this season at #1 LSU as the Illini took two of three from the Tigers when they were the top ranked team in the country. LSU is one of the best home team in collegiate baseball, so a Big Ten team taking two of three from them is virtually unheard of. Dan Black hit his 14th home run of the season for Purdue yesterday and drove in five runs on three hits. Drew Madia also added an eighth inning grand slam to put things away.
Michigan did not cooperate on its end, beating Northwestern 16-6 to stay alive for another day. Purdue had a chance to clinch this afternoon with a 1pm first pitch against the Illini, but Dan Black struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to seal a 6-3 loss. Purdue left the bases loaded in each of the last two innings, so they had plenty of chances to make some noise. They now get one more chance to control their fate tomorrow afternoon with a 1pm first pitch at Lambert Field. Michigan and Northwestern just got underway with game two of their series tonight. Rain could play havoc with both game threes tomorrow. If neither game gets played tomorrow, Purdue would still go to the Big Ten Tournament by a half game. So here is what Purdue needs now:
- A win over Illinois tomorrow OR
- A loss by Michigan to Northwestern tonight or tomorrow OR
- Rainouts of both games tomorrow.
UPDATE: Michigan and Northwestern's Friday night game has been rained out and moved to Saturday.
Softball faces Louisville in NCAA Tournament
The women's softball team makes it second NCAA Tournament appearance tonight at Louisville, facing off against the host Cardinals. Purdue gathered some postseason honors along the way this week. Third baseman Liane Horiuchi, and freshman utility player Molly Garst were named second team all-Big Ten while catcher Jenna Alexander and pitcher Suzie Rzegocki were named to the third all-Big Ten team.
Louisville (47-8) finished ranked 19th in the final poll of the season and very nearly was a national seed. They will be the #2 seed in this four team regional, but will host because of geographic balance in the region. They have already set a record for most wins in a season and will be hosting a regional for the first time. It is the second straight year Purdue is the #3 seed in their regional.
Louisville hits the ball very well. Eight players are batting better than .300 on the season and catcher Melissa Roth is batting .437 with 16 home runs and 51 RBI. Third baseman Chelsea Bemis (.389, 8HR, 43 RBI) and outfielder Kristi Cunningham (.307, 12 HR) also pack quite an offensive punch. Purdue will likely be facing Kristen Wadwell in the pitching circle. Wadwell is an ironhorse with a 40-7 record for the Cardinals. She has 237 strikeouts and a 1.37 ERA for the season. Her 40 wins is the best in the country.
For those lucky enough to have ESPNU, the game should be broadcast live there at 6:30 tonight.