Northwestern Detroit Mercy NCAA softball

Northwestern celebrates pitcher Danielle Williams' home run Friday against Detroit Mercy at the Evanston Regional. Williams drove in three runs in the No. 17/18 Wildcats' 15-1 win in five innings. 

EVANSTON — Detroit Mercy made a big impression on 16th seed Northwestern Friday.

In its first NCAA regional appearance, the Horizon League tournament champions took a 1-0 lead on the No. 17/18 Wildcats on their own field. Then Northwestern's battery made sure the Titans remembered where they were. Pitcher Danielle Williams homered and threw two shutout innings, relief pitcher Kenna Wilkey homered and threw two scoreless innings, and catcher Jordyn Rudd homered to lead Northwestern to a 15-1, five-inning victory.

The Wildcats (44-10) moved to 14-1 at Drysdale Field this season and advanced to meet Louisville (34-21) at 1 p.m. today. The Cardinals defeated SIU (33-14) 9-5 in the other Evanston Regional game Friday in cold and windy conditions. The Salukis take on the Titans (31-28) at 3:30 p.m. today in an elimination game.

Hosting its first NCAA regional since 2008, Northwestern scored six runs in the second inning and nine in the third to put the game out of reach. It was 15-1 in the third, but, according to NCAA rules, the run rule (eight-run lead after five) doesn't kick in until after the fifth inning.

Detroit Mercy used four pitchers in the loss. Starter Ashley Mauzer, the Horizon League pitcher of the year, went 1 1/3 innings. Liz Murphy, who helped the Titans reach the NCAA Tournament with back-to-back shutouts in the conference tournament, lasted only two-thirds of an inning. Freshman Erica Guerrero got two outs, and junior Cami Sinclair threw the final 1 1/3 innings.

• Salukis try to shake off loss: SIU made its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance Friday, but is in danger of going home without at least one victory for the second straight trip.

The Salukis lost both games at the Oxford (Mississippi) Regional two years ago and will leave Evanston without a victory if it's not able to beat Detroit Mercy for the second time in school history. SIU beat the Titans 2-1 on April 10, 1993, at the Western Illinois tournament.

The Salukis have won at least one game at the NCAA regionals in five of its six appearances under coach Kerri Blaylock. Blaylock, the program's all-time wins leader, is 9-13 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

Drake falls in walk-off fashion: Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion Drake led Georgia in the bottom of the seventh at the Minneapolis Regional, but the Bulldogs tied it with a home run and won it 8-6 in the eighth.

Ciara Bryan hit a two-run, walk-off home run to send the Bulldogs into an elimination game Saturday. Drake will play the loser of the nightcap in Minneapolis between host Minnesota and North Dakota State. 

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On Twitter: @THefferman


Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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