Baseball: After hot start, Wildcats’ losing season a missed opportunity

Jack Havey slides into third. Along with fellow seniors Luke Farrell and Colby Everett as well as redshirt seniors Zach Morton and Trevor Stevens, Havey was part of a veteran coalition that anchored Northwestern's success throughout the season.

Daily file photo by Meghan White

Jack Havey slides into third. Along with fellow seniors Luke Farrell and Colby Everett as well as redshirt seniors Zach Morton and Trevor Stevens, Havey was part of a veteran coalition that anchored Northwestern's success throughout the season.

Alex Putterman, Reporter

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After a 14-10 start that included an exhilarating evening at Wrigley Field, Northwestern (22-26, 9-15) lost 16 of its final 24 games — including eight of its last 10 — to finish below .500 for the 10th straight season. The team was five games from qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament.

The Cats, however, were a few close losses from a winning record and with a few breaks could have contended for the playoffs. Their overall record was the best it’s been since 2005.

NU was buoyed by a largely veteran core. Senior starting pitcher Luke Farrell’s 2.13 ERA was the best for any NU starter since 1996, and redshirt senior Zach Morton had a strong season at the plate, in the field and on the mound. Redshirt senior Trevor Stevens and seniors Jack Havey and Colby Everett contributed in various ways as well.

Junior utility man Kyle Ruchim, sophomore catcher Scott Heelan and sophomore pitcher Brandon Magallones also enjoyed productive seasons and will be back next year.

A variety of factors, both in and out of the Cats’ control, derailed the team’s postseason hopes. As coach Paul Stevens said after the season, “It was a very, very unusual year.”

The Cats were rained or snowed out of 10 games, canceling seven and postponing three. Temperatures were often sub-optimal, keeping practice indoors and making gameplay difficult.

Meanwhile, the Cats were 11-17 in games decided by three runs or fewer, a trend statistical analysts would attribute mostly to plain bad luck.

“You always want to find a way to accomplish all the things that you wanted to do, “ Stevens said. “But in a lot of the cases, I cannot sit there and say we did not run into some tough scenarios.”

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