Daily file photo by Meghan White
As the Wildcats head into the homestretch of the season, no one has been more crucial to their success than ace sophomore Amy Letourneau.
On the mound, Letourneau posts a 2.23 ERA, a 17-9 record with 21 complete gamesand 231 strikeouts. Letourneau’s 17 wins are good for fifth most in the Big Ten, while her 231 are the most of any pitcher in the conference. Of those strikeouts, she has also struck out the most batters looking. Letourneau has the lowest opposing batting average in the Big Ten, with .173. Her ERA is good enough for the 11th best in the Big Ten.
At the plate, Letourneau currently posts the highest batting average for the Cats, with .375. She has the second most home runs with 9 and the highest on-base percentage with .476. Letourneau’s batting average puts her tied for 19th in the Big Ten, and she is tied for the seventh most home runs in the conference. Junior Marisa Bast, who leads the Cats in home runs with 11, is tied for fourth most home runs in the conference.
Letourneau’s performance at the plate keeps her in the lineup regardless of whether she is on the mound that day. At first base, Letourneau does not find difficulty keeping her head in the game, even though she is used to pitching.
“I’m still 100 percent in the game and focused,” Letourneau said. “Every pitch almost feels like it’s coming out of my hand when I’m at first. That’s how much pressure I put on it and how much focus I put in it.”
Her presence on the field can help fellow pitchers when they are struggling.
“I love being on the field with my other pitchers because I know exactly what they’re going through,” Letourneau said. “Being out there, I’m able to help them settle down and go right after the batters.”
The Cats will certainly need Letourneau at the top of her game on the mound, at the plate and at first base with a double header against conference opponent University of Wisconsin on Wednesday.
The Badgers are third in the Big Ten with a 10-5 record in conference. The Cats are right behind them with a 9-5 record.
The double header, along with a three-game series against Purdue this weekend,will be a big opportunity for the Cats to gain ground in the Big Ten. NU wraps up its season with a three-game series against the first place and undefeated-in-conference Michigan.
NU coach Kate Drohan recognizes the importance of winning games late in the season but also how hard it is to get those victories.
“This time of year, no game is easy,” Drohan said. “Every game is a battle. Every team has 40 or 45 games under their belt, and they’re playing well.”