NU Sweeps 3 Big Ten Foes On Road (Softball)

Philip Rossman-Reich

By Philip Rossman-ReichThe Daily Northwestern

Freezing temperatures in the Midwest canceled every Big Ten softball game Friday, except No. 8 Northwestern and Purdue’s matchup in West Lafayette, Ind.

Senior pitcher Eileen Canney provided the heat the Wildcats needed to keep warm against the Boilermakers, tying her career-high seven-inning strikeout total with 17 and leading the Wildcats to a 2-1 victory over the Boilermakers.

Canney struck out at least two batters in every inning Friday except the sixth, and struck out the side in three innings. She struck out every Purdue batter at least once.

Yet NU’s bats also remained cold for most of the game.

Sophomore designated player Jessica Rigas scored the only runs with a two-run home run in the fourth for the Cats (31-7, 6-1 Big Ten).

Purdue answered with a home run the next inning but couldn’t muster anything else against Canney. Besides the home run, only one Boilermaker made it to second base.

After a one-out walk in the seventh inning, Canney struck out the last two hitters and ended hopes for a Purdue (19-25, 1-4) upset.

“I was really trying to stay composed,” Canney said. “I tried to stay focused and throw one pitch at a time. If I throw the pitch to the best of my ability, I can beat any batter.”

Saturday’s game at Purdue was canceled due to the cold weather, as was every other game on the Big Ten schedule.

NU returned to action the next day, as Canney and freshman pitcher Lauren Delaney continued the strikeout parade in the Cats’ doubleheader against Indiana.

In the first game, Indiana (18-19, 1-4) walked seven batters in the second inning – including four in a row – to allow the Cats a quick seven-run lead. Sophomore shortstop Tammy Williams hit a home run the next inning to drive in three runs and put NU up by a score of 10-0.

But Indiana responded by plating five runs in the third inning, capped by a three-run home run by senior first baseman Rachel Terry.

“It was a tough day out there,” NU coach Kate Drohan said. “It was cold and the pitcher was struggling finding the strike zone. That got us on the board early in the first game and we had some hits late to pull away.”

NU held off the rally and defeated Indiana, 14-7, for the first win.

Canney struck out 10, but gave up seven runs on 11 hits.

Delaney struck out 10 batters – including six in a row – and allowed two hits as the Cats downed the Hoosiers, 5-1, to complete the sweep Sunday. The win improved Delaney’s record to 15-0.

The second game didn’t see as much offense from the Hoosiers.

The Cats scored a run in the first five innings and were never challenged.

“(The pitchers) worked well for us and they kept runners from going,” senior first baseman Garland Cooper said. “They worked hard for us and it showed.”

Cooper broke the NU single-season record for home runs with a shot in the fifth inning of the first game Sunday. She added another in the second game.

Williams extended her hitting streak to 24 games. She went 6 for 13 on the weekend with three RBIs. She went 3 for 5 with a three-run home run in NU’s first game with Indiana.

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