Softball: Wildcats drop fourth straight in loss to DePaul

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

Looking to recover from a weekend that didn’t meet expectations against Ohio State, Northwestern traveled downtown Wednesday to battle in-state rival DePaul.

Since 2006, the series between the two Chicago area teams has always gone the way of the home team. This year wasn’t any different. The Wildcats (29-15) fell 9-3 to the Blue Demons (37-8).

“We faced a good pitcher, and we prepared for her well,” senior outfielder Emily Allard said. “We had more good at-bats than bad ones. We didn’t execute when we needed to. We got runners on and didn’t get the big hit. We’ve had better days at the plate.”

DePaul got on the board with a leadoff home run from starting pitcher Kirsten Verdun in the bottom of the first inning. However, the Cats were quick to tie it up with two walks and two batters hit by pitches to force in the run without putting the ball in play.

The Blue Demons supported Verdun in the bottom half of the inning, stringing together a rally to knock in three runs for a 4-1 lead they would never relinquish.

The rally prompted coach Kate Drohan to replace sophomore starter Kristen Wood on the mound with freshman Nicole Bond. Bond produced a one-two-three inning with help from stellar defense behind her from senior third baseman Marisa Bast.

The Cats tried to capitalize on the defensive momentum in the box, as sophomore Andrea Filler’s single prompted a Cats rally narrowing the DePaul lead to 1 run. Allard knocked in Filler and junior Oliva Duehr to put the score at 4-3 in favor of the Blue Demons.

The Cats battled back, attempting to tie it up, but DePaul was able to resist.

The Blue Demons grabbed hold of the game in the fifth inning, when they knocked in 3 more to go ahead 7-3. DePaul added 2 more in the sixth inning to cap off the scoring on the evening.

Wood, who is now 16-7 on the season, took the loss, giving up 4 runs on four hits through two innings. Bond pitched the remaining four innings, giving up 5 runs, 4 earned, with six strikeouts.

Allard led the Cats in the batter’s box and on the base paths, with two hits, two runs batted in and a stolen base.

NU faces Michigan State in Evanston this weekend for the team’s final series of the regular season before hosting the Big Ten tournament.

The series between NU and DePaul has developed into a decent rivalry over the past few seasons, but the Cats said they did not treat their nonconference opponent any differently.

“We treat every game like every other game,” Allard said. “It’s fun to play a local team, but we face them the same way we play Michigan State. It doesn’t matter who we play. Our destiny is in our hands.”

After losing four straight, NU is looking to go into the Michigan State game playing at the level that it was earlier in the season.

“It hasn’t affected our confidence,” Allard said. “We have our backs against the wall. This will be a defining moment in our season and we just need to take the opportunity by the horns.”

The Cats are focusing on taking each game pitch by pitch and each series opponent by opponent.

“We’re taking one game at a time,” Allard said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in the other dugout. We have to focus on ourselves.”

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