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Northwestern breezes into CL softball final

ALLENTOWN - Kate Farber’s message to her team was simple.

Don’t stress. Don’t press.

And Farber’s Northwestern squad looked calm, cool and collected once its Colonial League semifinal against Notre Dame Green Pond resumed on Thursday, rolling to a 12-2 victory in five innings at Pates Park.

The game - which was stopped on Tuesday due to inclement weather and poor field conditions - was continued in the bottom of the first inning with the Tigers ready to pounce with the bases loaded and no outs.

Abby Dunstan delivered the first big blow of the inning, ripping a two-run single to score Rylee McGinley and Sage Toman and give the top seed a jolt of energy on the second pitch thrown Thursday.

“We were really hyped up, because getting stalled out like that for two days, that’s a tough thing,” said Farber. “We were right there, bases loaded, no outs. And to have to pump the brakes, but for good reason; the field was not playable. But that’s a tough thing to wait on for two days.

“They were just anxious, they were ready to go. So we worked on, in that situation, not stressing, not pressing. It would be awesome to hit a grand slam, but that’s not what we were going for. We were just looking to get as many runs across as we could in that kind of perfect scenario. That was the message.”

It was delivered, loud and clear.

Dunstan’s hit kick-started a four-run inning that also included an RBI groundout by starting pitcher Emma Freeman to score Isabelle Akelaitis and a sacrifice fly by Shelby Mitman to plate Dunstan.

“After coming out on Tuesday, and just having the momentum that we did coming into this game, we were all so excited,” said Dunstan, who finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored. “And coming into that at-bat, I knew that if I didn’t produce the way that I wanted to, that my team and the rest of the lineup had my back. So I wasn’t really nervous, but I was really excited, because I knew that I had the ability to do what I needed to do.”

The Tigers (18-3) kept that momentum going with three more runs in the bottom of the second inning, as Freeman drove in Akelaitis and Dunstan with a two-out single before Mitman singled to score Freeman and make it 7-0.

It was more of the same in the bottom of the third inning, as Akelaitis singled to score McGinley. Dunstan followed and added her second double to bring in Toman and Akelaitis and make it 10-0.

Freeman singled to bring in Dunstan and scored the final run of a five-run third inning to make it 12-0.

Notre Dame’s (14-8) first hit and only runs came on a two-out, two-run homer by Sydney Ryan in the top of the fourth inning.

“The bats were contagious throughout the lineup,” said Freeman. “Abby started us off with a great hit, and I think we can carry that into tomorrow (in the championship game).”


... Northwestern’s 4-5-6 hitters - Dunstan, Freeman and Mitman -- went a combined 6-for-9 with 10 RBIs and five runs scored Thursday. Freeman was 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored, and Mitman had one hit with two RBIs. Toman was also 2-for-3 with two runs scored.


... While the heart of the order delivered big RBIs, the entire lineup was key to setting up the run scoring situations. Leadoff hitter McGinley had a single, while Toman and Akelaitis were both hit by a pitch to load the bases in the first before play was stopped Tuesday. Toman had a one-out single in the second, and McGinley reached on an error to lead off the third. Lily Kinnon also had a hit, and Elizabeth Diehl walked three times. Dunstan, Freeman, Diehl, McGinley and Toman also had stolen bases.


... Not only did the Tigers pound out 11 hits and have Freeman surrender just four with two walks and five strikeouts, they also played error-free through the five innings.


... Northwestern will face No. 2 seed Palisades today at 5 p.m. at Pates Park in the championship game. The Tigers beat the Pirates 4-0 on April 11.

Notre Dame 000 20 - 2 4 3

Northwestern 435 0x - 12 11 0

Fisher and Shields; Freeman and Dunstan. W - Freeman. L - Fisher.