Softball: Wildcats look to regroup after up-and-down spring break


Daily file photo by Meghan White

Andrea DiPrima swings at a pitch. The junior outfielder has recorded a hit in all but one of the Wildcats’ games since March 21.

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

The No. 23-ranked Wildcats had an eventful Spring Break, hosting two Big Ten opponents for three-game series.

Northwestern beat Wisconsin 8-6 and 4-2 before falling 7-5 in the final contest. The Cats were less lucky against Nebraska, winning 10-2 in the opening game but getting stomped by 13-3 and 10-1 margins after.

NU first battled against the Badgers, playing all three games at The Ballpark at Rosemont due to weather restrictions. The Cats still used their home field advantage, besting the Badgers in the first matchup in eight innings thanks to junior Julia Kuhn’s walk-off home run.

The momentum carried into the next game for a Cats win before the Badgers battled back to win the third match.

NU then took a break from Big Ten competition, hosting Northern Illinois at Rosemont. The prolific Cats’ offense was on display in the matchup, which NU took 13-2 in five innings for the run-rule victory.

The Cats then faced one of their toughest opponents of the season, again hosting the No. 19 Nebraska Cornhuskers at Rosemont for the first two games.

NU wasted no time in the first game against Nebraska, finishing off the Cornhuskers in five innings with a score of 10-2.

“We came out strong,” senior outfielder Emily Allard said. “We took it to them and got the big hits when we needed them. We really capitalized on their mistakes.”

Junior outfielder Andrea DiPrima agreed, crediting the offense with an impressive performance.

“We did a good job coming off with clutch hits when there were runners in scoring position,” she said.

Sophomore designated player Andrea Filler had a stellar day for the Cats at the plate, batting 3-for-3 with five RBIs.

However, the next meeting went the Cornhuskers’ way in a 13-3 Cats squash.

“We made them mad,” Allard said. “We got a dose of our own medicine.”

The series then switched to Evanston for the final matchup and continued to produce very lopsided victories. Nebraska beat NU 10-1 in five innings.

But, the Cats agreed that Nebraska was a worthy opponent, and the high level of play was indicative of the competition in the Big Ten.

“Nebraska is a great team. They have hitters up and down the lineup,” DiPrima said. “The Big Ten is getting better and better. Teams are becoming more and more consistent. It’s fun to be part of a conference with some of the best in the country.”

NU has a lot of Big Ten competition left before they host the Big Ten tournament. Unfortunately, the Cats will have to grind through the remaining schedule without their star pitcher, junior Amy Letourneau, who is confirmed to be out for the season.

As hosts of the tournament, NU is aiming for no less than a championship.

“We’re looking for that Big Ten Championship,” Allard said. “It’s not out of reach. We are in control of our own destiny.”

Allard, who has had a great start to her senior season, is a big part of that destiny and was rewarded for her hard work and impressive play by being selected in the third round of the National Pro Fastpitch draft by the local Chicago Bandits.

Though Allard, as a collegiate athlete, could not declare for the draft, she could still be chosen, and the Bandits hold her rights until she has completed her college eligibility.

Allard and the Cats’ next Big Ten game will be on the road at Iowa this weekend. First though, the Cats will host UIC on Wednesday.

Regardless of the opponent, the Cats are determined to play their game and stay focused.

“Nebraska is over and done. We can use it to our advantage,” Allard said. “We can’t do anything about it now.”

DiPrima echoed the same sentiment, stating that the key is to focus on what the team can control.

“We need to continue to focus on fundamentals and take it one pitch at a time,” she said. “We just need to stick with the same plan.”

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