Softball: Tyler pitches gem in first start but NU can’t find hits

Kevin Trahan

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Jenny Tyler’s first collegiate start didn’t finish the way she would have liked, but all things considered, it was a good game to build on for the sophomore hurler.

“It was great,” she said. “I mean, the first inning there were a lot of jitters and stuff like that, but it went away pretty quickly when I saw that the team was behind me, and they definitely backed me up the whole time, so (that) made it much easier today.”

Tyler gave up just two hits and no earned runs through 3.2 innings in just her fourth pitching appearance during Northwestern’s 1-0 loss Tuesday.

“I thought Jenny had great poise out there and she looked great,” coach Kate Drohan said. “She fielded her position well and we were really, really pleased with her outing today.”

Tyler allowed the first two Loyola hitters to reach base, but escaped the inning without giving up a run, which helped her poise for the remainder of her outing.

“It gave me confidence in the second inning, after the first out it just was really awesome,” she said. “I’m really grateful about just the constant support everyone was giving me throughout the game.”

Tyler was replaced after two outs in the bottom of the fourth by freshman Amy Letourneau, who allowed no hits or walks in the remaining 2.1 innings. Letourneau’s relief gem was a sign of improvement to Drohan, as Letourneau leads the team with nine wins, but has walked 99 batters in 94 innings.

“Amy came in and was much more assertive on the mound than we’ve seen in her last outing,” Drohan said.

It was a pitchers’ duel all seven innings, as Ramblers starter Brittany Gardner gave up only two hits in a complete game shutout against the Wildcats’ typically potent offense.

NU threatened to score in the top of the seventh, with a runner reaching third with two outs, but the Cats were unable to capitalize, leaving nine runners on base throughout the game.

“I thought we were really passive in the batter’s box,” Drohan said. “I thought we took far too many strikes, especially pivotal strikes, 2-0 strikes, you know, that were there for us.”

The lack of offense ended up nullifying a solid pitching performance.

“What we saw out of our pitchers today was really, really good, but we don’t ever like to see a zero on the scoreboard,” Drohan said.

Tyler acknowledged the offensive struggles, but said she couldn’t complain because she struggled at the plate as well, striking out in both of her plate appearances.

“I mean, I just think that there is an inch here or there, and we would have hit like we normally do, so it wasn’t frustrating at all, just because I was also a part of it,” she said.

The Cats have now lost four of their last five games, but Drohan said spirits are still high, despite the losing streak.

“They’re working,” she said. “They showed up today and they had a great competitive spirit and seemed to put a complete game together.”

NU has a quick turnaround, traveling to DeKalb, Ill., to face Northern Illinois on Wednesday. Tyler said she is confident NU will return to form on offense.

“We just need to really focus on seeing the ball a little bit more, a little bit earlier and realizing the pitcher’s sequences a little bit better tomorrow,” she said. “I think we will. I think we’re going to be really smart about it, and we will see tomorrow.”