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Pingybats and Twineysticks: The B1G Keeps Rolling

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Our crash course in the spring non-revs rolls on—and the Big Ten is still showing out in the national tournaments!

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

We don’t want to distract you from Nebraska Week—coming soon!—at all, but Northwestern doing well in sports has inspired me to write about the non-revenues and brag about how just damn awesome my alma mater is.

NCAA Softball Tournament

The Big Ten qualified six teams and nabbed three regional host sites, numbers the conference hasn’t managed in over a decade.

So how did they do?

#7 Minnesota Golden Gophers

def. North Dakota State Bison, 3-0
def. Georgia Bulldogs, 2-1 (8 inn.)

Behind Amber Fiser, the Gophers escaped some tougher days at the plate, dispatching the Byezun before seeing off a tough Georgia club in extras. Rain scuttled today’s action, though, meaning the Gophers will face the winner of Georgia and Drake tomorrow in an advantaged final:

As a result, you can catch the Gophers against a Bulldog—either Bulldog!—tomorrow at 12pm CT on ESPNU. The winner will face #10 LSU, who’s already on their way up to Minneapolis.

#15 Michigan Wolverines

def. St. Francis (PA) Red Flash, 8-0 (6 inn.)
def. James Madison Dukes, 1-0 (12 inn.)

After handling the Red Flash easily, the Wolverines played a corker of a game with the Dukes, finally walking them off in the 12th after Natalie Peters slapped a double between the third baseman and the line, then got singled in by Madison Uden.

But that’s burying the lead—that should be Meghan Beaubien, who threw 12 innings, scattering 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 12. Goddamn. My mom, a D-III softball player back in the day, was watching this one with great interest, and I am still in awe at both pitchers racking up 150+ pitches over the course of the game. And now they needed to go again!

But...more weather problems!

As a result, you can catch the Wolverines-Dukes final—advantaged to Michigan—at 11am CT on ESPN2.

#16 Northwestern Wildcats

def. Detroit-Mercy Titans, 15-1 (5 inn.)
L to Louisville Cardinals, 2-1
def. Southern Illinois Salukis, 8-1
def. Louisville, 7-0
def. Louisville, 4-3

HELL YEAH, ROLL DAMN ‘CATS

As I feared in my first, novice preview, the odds finally caught up with the ‘Cats, who dropped their fourth meeting on the year with the Cardinals. Undeterred, Northwestern was able to rest ace Danielle Williams and toss capable understudy Kenna Wilkey against the Salukis—with four runs of support by the third inning, the ‘Cats cruised.

Handling the Louisville #2—who walked four and got let down by three errors from her defense—in the opener, the ‘Cats relied on Danielle Williams throughout the day. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year didn’t disappoint, with Williams spinning thirteen combined innings, including four no-hit innings to open the deciding game. While Louisville tied it back up after the ‘Cats grabbed a 2-0 lead, Nikki Cuchran lined a based-loaded single to plate the winning two runs.

For their troubles? Northwestern heads down to Norman to face #1 Oklahoma, likely on Friday (I think). Speaking of...

Wisconsin Badgers — Norman Regional

def. Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 4-2
L to #1 Oklahoma Sooners, 4-0
def. Notre Dame, 5-4
def. #1 Oklahoma, 2-1
L to #1 Oklahoma, 2-0

So. Close.

After fighting back from a pretty run-of-the-mill loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, the Badgers put the scare in Oklahoma, snapping their 41-game winning streak and 49-game home winning streak in a disadvantaged final on Sunday. With pitcher Kaitlyn Menz spinning a gem in Game 1, allowing a first-pitch home run and shutting down the Sooners the rest of the way despite allowing seven more baserunners after the homer, Menz was asked to do the same in Game 2. This time, though, despite only managing four hits, the Sooners got a Grace Green tater and added a run the next inning to take a 2-0 lead. That was all Sooners ace Giselle Juarez needed after being handed her first loss of the year in Game 1—she struck out 8, and the Sooners advance yet again.

Ohio State Buckeyes — Knoxville Regional

def. North Carolina Tar Heels, 1-0
L to #12 Tennessee Volunteers, 12-4
L to North Carolina, 5-3

After a gem of an opener behind Morgan Ray’s 8 Ks, the dam burst in the later sets—Tennessee exploited Buckeye errors to rack up six runs (only three earned) on Ray in the semifinal, then UNC chased Ray again in the elimination game.

Illinois Fighting Illini — Lexington Regional

L to Virginia Tech Hokies, 6-2
def. Toledo Rockets, 3-0
L to Virginia Tech, 5-1

The Hokies’ offense was too much for the Illini’s suspect pitching staff—Taylor Edwards held VaTech at bay for the Illini in the opener before faltering in a four-run sixth, then suffered a similar fate in a three-run fifth in the elimination game. The appearance for the Illini, though, a third notch in the belt of fifth-year coach Tyra Perry, ended on a sour note, though with some pitching the Illini could have something cooking for the future.


Big Ten Baseball

I’m exhausted. Anyways, an Indiana Hoosiers sweep of Rutgers gave the #25 Hoosiers the regular-season title over Michigan, while Ohio State and Maryland’s wins over Purdue and Iowa, respectively, coupled with a Northwestern home loss to Minnesota, solidified the #7 and #8 seeds in the Big Ten Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park.


NCAA Lacrosse Tournament

Women’s Bracket

#1 Maryland Terrapins def. Denver Pioneers, 17-8
#4 Northwestern Wildcats def. #5 Syracuse Orange, 18-14

Well well well, we’ve got us a rematch! The #1 Maryland Terrapins and #4 Northwestern Wildcats meet up in a rubber match of the regular season and Big Ten Tournament championship, which went to the former and the latter, respectively.

It’s been business as usual for the Terrapins, who easily handled the Denver Pioneers’ #1-rated zone defense behind seven (!!!) goals from Caroline Steele en route to a 17-8 rout. They’ll face the Wildcats, who got hat tricks from Selena Lasota, Lindsey McKone, and Megan Kinna. The ‘Cats jumped out to a 10-4 halftime lead and held on despite a down game from goalkeeper Mallory Weisse, who stopped only 8 of 22 shots.

But there’s guaranteed to be a Big Ten team in the finals!

Semifinals:

Friday, May 24 | at Johns Hopkins
Time: TBA | TV: ESPN3

#2 Boston College vs. #3 North Carolina
#1 Maryland vs. #4 Northwestern

Men’s Bracket

#1 Penn State Nittany Lions def. #8 Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds, 21-14
#3 Virginia Cavaliers def. Maryland Terrapins, 13-12 (OT)

Penn State is a lacrosse school now!

The top-seeded Lions will make their first-ever Final Four appearance on Saturday, having seen off the Greyhounds of Dr. Loyola by a touchdown after falling behind 6-3 early. Mac O’Keefe led the charge for Penn State with nine goals, pacing a high-powered offense that College Crosse is calling “college lacrosse’s Thanos.” I’ll assume that’s good.

After upsetting #6 Towson on an overtime goal last Sunday, the Terrapins fell short in similar fashion on Saturday, losing the face-off and yielding a goal to the Hoos’ Matt Moore just :45 into the period.

It was particularly agonizing, as the Terps had grabbed a 12-7 lead with 10 minutes to go, only to watch Virginia claw all five back, two of them with the man advantage. Attacker Jared Bernhardt and midfielder Anthony DeMaio each chipped in four goals for the Terps.

Semifinals

Saturday, May 25 | ESPN2 | Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

#2 Duke vs. #3 Virginia (11am CT)
#1 Penn State vs. #5 Yale (1:30pm)


I’m tired. Recap any other non-revs of note from the weekend, tell me whose outstanding contributions I’ve missed, and feel free to make this your thread for the Minnesota and Michigan softball teams’ regional action Monday morning!