NU senior shuts out foes in 3 victories (Softball)

Sarah Rothschild

After losing four consecutive Big Ten games to No. 15 Michigan and Michigan State, the Northwestern softball team began its first of four conference games this weekend in a 2-0 hole.

No. 20 Ohio State scored two quick runs against Wildcats starter Courtnay Foster on Saturday, prompting coach Kate Drohan to yank the freshman after one-third of an inning.

Enter pitcher Lauren Schwendimann.

After replacing Foster in the first game, the senior shut down Ohio State, allowing two hits and striking out four. NU won 5-2.

In game two, the Cats were up 10-2 when the Buckeyes loaded the bases in the sixth. Schwendimann came in to replace senior pitcher Brie Brown, who started to struggle late in the game. Schwendimann gave up 1 hit in 1 2/3 innings, and the Cats won game two 10-3.

Schwendimann earned two of NU’s three victories when the Wildcats hosted the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions in doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday at Drysdale Field.

Earning three conference wins, NU improved to 3-5 in the Big Ten and 21-11 overall.

The Cats’ pitching staff set the tone, giving up just six runs in four games.

“I was looking to pick up the energy and use the defense to create momentum for the offense,” Schwendimann said. “I took it one pitch at a time. I am being very literal. That was what went through my head.”

Down 2-0 in game one of a doubleheader against Ohio State on Saturday, the Cats mounted a comeback with two outs in the bottom of the sixth by scoring five runs.

After right fielder Erin Mobley hit a double with one out, first baseman Jamie Dotson singled and stole second.

Ohio State’s Katie Chain relieved starter Kristi DeVries and allowed catcher J.C. Kira to hit a two-run base hit that tied the score a 2-2.

“Hitting is contagious and (J.C.) got us going,” Schwendimann said. “A lot of times it just takes one person to break it open.”

Offense — the longball in particular — carried the Cats in a 10-3 win in game two Saturday against Ohio State and a 4-0 rout over Penn State in game two Sunday.

“I had no idea it was going over (the wall). I thought I popped it up,” designated player Robyn Pettinger said of her solo shot against Penn State in the Cats 4-0 win. “I said some cuss words in my head and then looked up. It was nice to get back to hitting because i hadn’t been hitting very well.”

Although game two against Penn State was capped by three NU home runs, they couldn’t put any run support together for Foster in the first game. The freshman only gave up two hits, but one was a solo home run that gave the Nittany Lions all the offense they would need in the 1-0 win.

“When Courtnay throws so well, we coast and say, ‘Oh yeah, we got it,'” Drohan said. “I don’t know if they felt the urgency.”

Although Kelley Galigher’s solo home run decided the game against the Nittany Lions, Drohan said the pitching staff’s performance improved from last weekend’s four Big Ten losses.

“We only gave up one home run,” she said. “Last weekend I don’t even know how many home runs we gave up. And that’s what killed us. Today the home run still killed us.”

around the horn:

Second-baseman Carri Leto hit lead-off for the first time this season and went 3 for 4 in the Cats 5-2 win against Ohio State Saturday… Freshman infielder Kristen Amegin hit the first home run of her career, a three-run shot, in NU’s 10-3 victory over Ohio State Saturday… Catcher J.C. Kira drove in five runs Saturday, including a game-tying two-run single in game one against Ohio State.