Coming off two straight losses, Northwestern needed a win to get back some of the momentum the team had during an eight-game winning streak that spanned from April 2 until just last Thursday.
The Tigers got the win they needed Monday, but it wasn't easy. They fought off two Northern Lehigh comebacks before winning 6-5 in the eighth inning.
"A W is a W right now," said Northwestern head coach Jen Horner. "We needed to bounce back after [Saturday's 1-0 loss to Bangor] and we really needed this win."
Northwestern had leads of 2-0 and 5-2 on Monday in Slatington, but each time Northern Lehigh came back to tie before the game went into extra innings at 5-5.
The Tigers' Morgan Cleary got the winning rally started with a one-out bunt single. She moved to second on a Lauren Horner bunt before Katie Williams got the game-winning hit with two outs.
The senior catcher took a 1-0 pitch to shallow center field to bring in Cleary.
"I knew I needed a base hit to score because we had a quick runner on second," said Williams. "I shortened up my swing and just tried to poke it in there."
The win, combined with Southern Lehigh's victory over Notre Dame (Green Pond), gives Northwestern (12-5, 9-4) a three-game lead in the Colonial League wild card standings with three games left on the schedule.
Northwestern grabbed the early lead when Lauren Horner, the first batter of the game, reached base on an error and scored on Blaise Barron's triple to center field.
The Tigers made it 2-0 in the third. Horner singled with one out and scored on an error.
After getting just one hit off Tiger starter Ashley Eden over the first three innings, the Bulldogs got their bats going in the fourth inning.
Amber Kibler drew a lead-off walk and scored on Kaelah Horwath's triple to center field. Horwath scored on an Amber Thomas single to tie the game at 2-2.
Northwestern went right back in front in the top of the fifth. Steph Papp knocked in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single. Another run came in on an error for a 5-2 lead.
Northern Lehigh (6-10, 4-9) got one run back in the fifth on an error and back to back singles by Kibler and Horvath.
The Bulldogs, which need to win their last four games to qualify for district playoffs, tied the game with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth. Morgan Filchner and Shannon Weil each singled before Cassie Toth cleared the bases with game-tying triple that made it 5-5.
For the Bulldogs, it was another close game against a quality opponent.
"I'm very proud of the comeback, very proud of the effort," said Northern Lehigh head coach Jon DeFrain. "All year it's been like that. We've been in every game. We're a real young team. We have a lot of talent here. This is going to be a great confidence builder for us."
Northwestern 101 030 01 – 6 8 4
No.Lehigh 000 212 00 – 5 9 4
Eden and Williams; Horwath and Filchner. W – Eden. L – Horwath.