Softball: Northwestern ends season on disappointing note, misses NCAA Tournament

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

After a promising start to the year, the Wildcats ended the season in disappointment, getting knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament in the second round and missing the NCAA Tournament after making it last year.

Northwestern finished fifth in the Big Ten, highlighted by three-game sweeps of Illinois, Penn State and Purdue. The Cats also had big wins over Notre Dame and Minnesota.

NU looked great heading into the homestretch of the regular season, stringing together five consecutive victories with just one series left against Big Ten leader Michigan. NU battled hard in the tough road series but failed to get a victory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The losses put the Cats in the fifth seed for the Big Ten Tournament, forcing them to the play in the first round. The defending champions won the first game against Indiana 6-3.

NU then drew the fourth seed and eventual champion Wisconsin and fell to the Badgers 3-0. The final loss was a pitchers’ duel between aces. However, the Cats’ defense failed sophomore ace Amy Letourneau and committed three errors, allowing the Badgers to score three unearned runs and knock NU out of the tournament.

Letourneau was the most valuable player for the Cats all season both in the circle and at the plate. The sophomore won a Big Ten batting title finishing with a .475 average and led the league in strikeouts while in the circle.

The Cats’ offense was potent throughout the season and gave them a chance in every matchup. But oftentimes their defense had trouble keeping up.

Although the lack of a NCAA berth was disappointing for NU, the team graduates only three seniors, and the young talent brings promise for next season.