Kristen Wood pitched a three-hit shutout and the fourth-seeded Northwestern Wildcats (28-20, 14-8 B1G) did just enough offensively to get by the 12th-seeded Purdue Boilermakers (31-25, 7-14 B1G) 3-0 in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals on Friday afternoon in Columbus.
The 'Cats will face the first-seeded, and nationally third-ranked Michigan Wolverines in the semifinals tomorrow in the teams' first meeting this season.
NU scored two-thirds of its runs in the first off ace pitcher Lilly Fecho, sneaking across its first run by way of a beautifully placed squeeze bunt single down the first base line by shortstop Andrea Filler. Filler advanced to second on a walk, and would later score on a blooper to left by designated player Amy Letourneau to give the 'Cats a 2-0 lead they would not relinquish.
On the mound, Wood (16-9) held the Boilermakers scoreless but was not lacking in stressful situations. Purdue loaded the bases twice but was unable to capitalize in either situation. In the third with two outs, Wood induced a flyout to left center, and in the fifth with no outs, leftfielder Olivia Duehr caught a fly ball and nailed a runner attempting to tag up and score with a perfect one hop throw to the plate, neutralizing the Purdue rally.
NU tacked on one more in the bottom of the inning with a sac fly from catcher Sammy Nettling, and Wood cruised through Purdue's final two at bats, striking out her sixth batter of the game to put a nail in the Boilermakers' coffin and wrap up her fifth shutout this season.
Big Ten Network will broadcast Northwestern's next tournament game live at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow.