Softball: Missed opportunities haunt Northwestern in 1-0 loss to Loyola (Chicago)

Northwestern outfielder Olivia Duehr had one of the Wildcats' three hits against Loyola (Chicago) on Tuesday.

Daily file photo by Samantha Maeng

Northwestern outfielder Olivia Duehr had one of the Wildcats' three hits against Loyola (Chicago) on Tuesday.

Rebecca Friedman, Assistant Sports Editor

Loyola (Chicago) robbed Northwestern of a win — or at least a trip to extra innings.

In a pitcher’s duel between the two aces, sophomore Amy Letourneau and Loyola’s Brittany Gardner, the Ramblers outlasted the Wildcats 1-0. 

The Ramblers scored their lone run in the top of the sixth inning on a first-pitch home run by Lauren Moore, who had two of the Loyola’s three hits. 

“It was a bad pitch. You throw one bad pitch, and we pay for it,” Letoureanu said. “The ball wasn’t bouncing our way today.”

Moore’s homer, the deciding hit of the game, could have simply been an equalizer if not for center fielder Annie Korth’s grab in the bottom of the first. Junior third baseman Marisa Bast blasted a shot deep to left center and right over the wall with two outs left in the first. However, Korth somehow willed the ball in her glove and snatched it from over the wall, robbing Bast of her home run and eventually securing the game for the Ramblers. 

“The wind didn’t help, that’s kind of been our nemesis the last couple of games, it hung just high enough for her to get under it and that’s softball, it just happens sometimes,” coach Kate Drohan said.

The Cats (16-14) couldn’t seem to capitalize on any of their chances. At the bottom and the top of the order, balls were hit hard but seemed to go right to the Rambler players. Senior Kristin Scharkey drove a hard hit ball straight to third in the fourth inning, while the Loyola shortstop robbed freshman Aubrie May of a line drive up the middle in the sixth. 

“(Gardner) threw a very good game against us; we had our opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of it,” Drohan said. “This is the kind of game that we expect down the stretch. We didn’t come up with the big hit we needed.”

Two of the Cats’ three hits were infield singles. Designated player Andrea DiPrima had a double up the middle in the fifth. The Cats twice had a runner at second and were unable to capitalize. 

Letourneau had yet another great start for the Cats, giving up only three hits in seven innings with three walks. She finished with 12 strikeouts, marking her 10th start with double-digit strikeouts. 

“You have to pitch tougher to the three batter,” Drohan said. “On the bright side, she was really working both sides of the plate. It’s been a focus for us and I really like the way she did that.”

The defense behind Letourneau was also a reason for the low scoring affair, as the NU infield and outfield made every play they could.

“I think we’ve played really good defense for a while now. We’ve been consistent for the past three weeks now,” Bast said. “We’re really gelling as an infield and the outfield is playing really well, too.”

Both Drohan and the Cats were quick to give credit to Loyola’s Gardner, who finished the day giving up no runs on three hits with eight strikeouts and zero walks.

“I think that we weren’t prepared for her change up, and our swings were too big. We were trying to foul them off, and we couldn’t at the end,” Bast said. “The hits that we did get were right at people. and none of them were dropping. It was just one of those days, you know.”