Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Softball: Seniors step up as Cats split series

On Thursday, senior Emily Haug said taking her last at-bat at Sharon J. Drysdale Field “could be tough.” On Sunday, Haug made it look awfully easy.

The catcher stepped to the plate with two runners on and the Wildcats ahead 8-3 in the bottom of the sixth against Wisconsin. With the count at 2-1, Haug launched a ball over the fence in left-center, putting NU ahead by eight. The walk-off bomb gave the Cats (25-21, 10-6 Big Ten) a run-rule victory and ended the team’s Senior Day with a bang.

“I can’t lie, I thought about it being the last (at-bat),” Haug said. “I’ll even admit that it crossed my mind how cool it would be (to hit a home run). I just tried to get a base hit and couldn’t ask for anything better than what happened.”

Haug’s blast was a fitting end for the senior class’ time at the “J,” but she wasn’t the only senior to make her mark Sunday. Infielder Nicole Pauly sent two balls over the fences, including a grand slam in the first inning. Her five RBIs on Sunday were a career-best. Centerfielder Kelly Dyer added a two-run shot in the fifth. Altogether, the Cats’ seniors went 5-for-9 with 10 RBIs.

NU’s power showcase came a day after it lost a five-run lead to Wisconsin (19-29, 4-11) and eventually fell in extra innings.

“(Saturday) we were able to generate a lot of offense but not get the final blow,” coach Kate Drohan said. “(Sunday) we stepped up and we got it.”

And they did so largely without the help of two of their biggest hitters, sophomore infielder Adrienne Monka and junior designated player Michelle Batts. Wisconsin pitched around the pair of sluggers all weekend, including four intentional walks to Batts on Saturday alone. The pair combined for 10 free passes this weekend.

On Sunday, the Cats’ lineup took advantage of the Badgers’ strategy.

“A lot of people pitch around (Batts) and (Monka) so it didn’t come as a surprise,” Pauly said. “We made them pay.”

Freshman Meghan Lamberth started in the circle for NU after she surrendered three runs in the top of the eighth Saturday to earn the loss. The righty rebounded by throwing a complete game with four strikeouts and no walks.

Wisconsin aided NU by killing two of its own rallies with blunders on the base paths. After leading off the top of the second with a hit-by-pitch, Wisconsin’s Shannel Blackshear was doubled up when shortstop Emily Allard snagged a hard liner and threw to first. The Badgers made a similar mistake one inning later when the Cats turned a rare 9-3 double play on a sinking line drive to right field.

NU is still fighting to secure fourth place in the Big Ten, and Drohan said she was most impressed with the way her team kept its composure.

“It’s easy to get tight on a day like today, ” Drohan said. “But they really stayed loose.”

Dyer said it felt great to hit a home run in her last at-bat at the “J,” a field on which she’s played 64 home games. But the team’s victory still trumped her individual success.

“We held it together, tried not to cry, just tried to enjoy it,” Dyer said. “You can’t ask for more. We got a win.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Softball: Seniors step up as Cats split series