Softball: Sloppy defense knocks Northwestern out of Big Ten Tournament, ends Wildcats’ season

Northwestern pitcher Amy Letourneau took the loss against Wisconsin on Friday despite only allowing 3 hits and striking out 7 batters. The Wildcats gave up 3 unearned runs in the 3-0 season-ending loss to the Badgers.

Daily file photo by Meghan White

Northwestern pitcher Amy Letourneau took the loss against Wisconsin on Friday despite only allowing 3 hits and striking out 7 batters. The Wildcats gave up 3 unearned runs in the 3-0 season-ending loss to the Badgers.

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, one disappointment led to another this weekend.

After a first-round victory in the Big Ten Tournament over Indiana, No. 5 seed Northwestern was bounced by fourth-seeded Wisconsin in the second round. The weekend took an even more somber turn for the Cats after their name did not come up on the NCAA Tournament selection show Sunday night.

“We thought we had about a 50/50 percent chance of making the tournament,” sophomore pitcher Amy Letourneau said. “We had even more confidence going into the selection than last year because we did make it last year.”

She highlighted the fact NU sat back and watched too much over the season rather than going out and getting what it wanted — a coveted spot in the tournament.

“We have to go out and prove it,” Letourneau said. “We can’t let a group of eight people just decide. We need to show that we deserve it and don’t just let it happen. We didn’t do enough to prove it in the end.”

Letourneau also emphasized how disappointed the team was with the end of the season given its promising showing in the tournament last year.

Instead, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Big Ten Tournament winner Wisconsin will represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament, leaving fifth-place NU in the dust.

The Cats gave the Badgers a scare in their victorious Big Ten Tournament run Friday.

NU did not allow an earned run in the 3-0 loss as Letourneau had yet another brilliant performance, allowing 3 unearned runs on only 3 hits with 7 strikeouts.

The Badgers’ first run came in the bottom of the third inning after a 2-out NU error allowed Wisconsin to score on a passed ball. The Cats battled back in the top of the fourth, with junior Marisa Bast hitting a 1-out double to left center, but NU was unable to bring her around.

The Cats continued to be plagued by errors throughout the game, allowing the Badgers to build on the lead they would never relinquish.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, another NU error allowed Wisconsin to score again, building a 2-0 lead.

The Cats’ offense tried to rescue them again in the top of the fifth, loading the bases, but the Badgers got out of the jam.

After a spotless fifth inning by Letourneau, who struck out the side, the Cats committed the final error, burying themselves for good in the bottom of the sixth. The error, two walks and a single forced the final Wisconsin run across the plate.

“We played well,” Letourneau said. “Wisconsin is a good team. They won the tournament.”

Letourneau and junior Mari Majam were selected for the first team all-Big Ten. Bast and sophomore Anna Edwards were selected to the second team, while freshman Brianna LeBeau won honors for her play at second base for the first annual All-Defensive Big Ten team.

Letourneau, who won the Big Ten batting title with a .475 average, led the league in strikeouts for her work in the circle, received Big Ten player of the week twice this season and was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA National and USA Softball College Player of the Week on April 2.

Despite the individual accolades this season, Letourneau said she is just as dissatisfied as her teammates.

“It’s all about the team for me,” she said, “I knew the team needed me to step up from freshman to sophomore year and so I did. On both an individual and team level, we need to work on how to get wins we need for next year. The selection show is really going to stay with us in preparation for next year.”

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