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: Texas too much for Northwestern in Austin Regional final

It is probably safe to say that the Northwestern batters have seen enough of Blaire Luna to last a lifetime.

The Texas pitcher struck out 43 NU batters in three games over the weekend, helping the Longhorns eliminate the Wildcats from the NCAA Championships.

“Clearly we are disappointed with the outcome (Sunday),” coach Kate Drohan said. “But I would like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of our team and program and how much we have grown this year. We have come a long way with a very young group of people. (Luna) was outstanding today and seemed to be at her best at the most critical times of the game.”

The Cats (29-29), who won eight of their last nine regular season games to make the playoffs, won their first two games of the Austin Regionals but lost both games against the Longhorns on Sunday, missing a chance to move on to the Super Regionals for the first time since 2008.

NU pulled off the upset against sixth-overall seed Texas (46-11) on Friday, courtesy of a gritty pitching performance from Amy Letourneau. The freshman shut out the Longhorns, who have the sixth-best batting average in the nation, scattering five hits over seven innings. With nine walks, Letourneau put herself in some jams but worked out of them with five strikeouts and 12 groundouts.

Despite 14 strikeouts from Luna, the Cats managed to scrape out six hits and two runs for the victory. “(Luna) did a nice job with the middle of our order,” Drohan said. “We were able to muscle through. That is what this time of year is about – that big hit or that big pitch.”

Against Houston on Saturday, NU turned to its offense, matching a school record with 17 hits in the 13-9 victory. First baseman Adrienne Monka smashed a three-run home run off the video board in center field for the 55th homer of her career. The senior finishes tied for second in NU history in home runs. She ends her career as the all-time leader in slugging percentage, on base percentage, and walks.

Sophomore Marisa Bast added four RBIs, giving her 68 for the year, two short of the school record. Texas’ victories over Auburn and Houston set up a rematch with NU in the Austin Regional Finals on Sunday.

As if the Cats hadn’t seen enough strikeouts from Luna on Friday, the junior hurler fanned 15 NU batters in the first game Sunday, helping Texas force a second game. The Cats could only manage two hits and no runs on offense, while two errors on defense allowed three unearned runs to cross the plate in a 5-0 loss.

“There are a handful of pitchers who can really manage a game like (Luna) did today, ” Drohan said. “This time of the year is about the big pitcher against the heart at the biggest moment. She did a nice job with that today.”

Minutes later, the two teams returned to the field for a winner-takes-all game, with a spot in the Super Regionals on the line.

The Longhorns once again placed their faith in Luna, who delivered with 14 more strikeouts, giving her 52 in four games for the weekend.

Texas struck quickly in the first inning with a two-run homer then let Luna take care of the rest. The Cats managed seven hits but could not break through for a run against the Austin, Texas, native. The Longhorns added three more runs in the sixth for another 5-0 victory.

Fittingly, Luna struck out sophomore Mari Majam to end the game and send Texas to a Super Regional matchup with Oregon.

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Softball: Texas too much for Northwestern in Austin Regional final