Softball: Northwestern holds on to crucial win over DePaul

Sophomore Olivia Duehr batted the No. 9 spot for NU against DePaul. Her 1 hit of the contest was a 2-out double to right-center field that gained the Cats 2 runs.

Daily file photo by Meghan White

Sophomore Olivia Duehr batted the No. 9 spot for NU against DePaul. Her 1 hit of the contest was a 2-out double to right-center field that gained the Cats 2 runs.

Josh Walfish, Sports Editor

The two teams were nearly identical on paper.

DePaul came to Evanston with a 28-18 record and took on Northwestern, which also boasted an 28-18 record. The Blue Demons handed the ball to pitcher Kirsten Verdun, who had a 20-10 record. The Wildcats sent sophomore ace pitcher Amy Letourneau to the circle with a 19-10 mark on the season.

But in the big moments, NU asserted its dominance and beat DePaul 4-2 Tuesday to inch closer to a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

“In the big picture, it’s a huge game for us,” coach Kate Drohan said. “Amy threw an outstanding game. Even though she got into some jams, she was throwing some good stuff. The middle of our order really came through.”

Both teams were firmly entrenched on the bubble heading into the contest, but Letourneau out-threw Verdun with 11 strikeouts and only 2 walks. Verdun struck out six batters and did not walk anyone, but Letourneau stranded 10 DePaul runners on the base path, while Verdun was only able to strand five NU runners.

The difference in the game was the middle of NU’s lineup, which was missing junior third baseman Marisa Bast due to an injury. Letourneau, sophomore shortstop Anna Edwards and sophomore designated player Andrea DiPrima — the third, fourth and fifth batters in the lineup, respectively — all went 2-for-3 on the day.

Letourneau and Edwards both drove in a run, but the real threat came at the No. 9 slot. Sophomore outfielder Olivia Duehr only had 1 hit, but it was a monstrous 2-out double to right-center field in the fourth inning that scored 2 runs and broke the game open.

“That hit was huge,” Drohan said. “Olivia is a sneaky little nine batter. The on-base percentage is just what you want out of that nine spot, but when you can add that surge of power, and we can get a couple of runners on in front of her, that’s a rally waiting to happen.”