Softball: Northwestern gets back on track heading into Big Ten Tournament

Huzaifa Patel, Reporter

Northwestern closed out a productive regular season on a high note Sunday afternoon at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, finishing off a three-game sweep of Michigan State.

It was Senior Weekend for the Wildcats (32-15, 14-9 Big Ten), marking the final regular-season home games for NU’s six seniors, Amanda Mehrsheikh, Sammy Albanese, Emily Allard, Marisa Bast, Mari Majam and Paige Tonz.

After losing three close games against Ohio State last weekend and falling to DePaul on Wednesday, the Cats righted the ship this weekend against the Spartans (12-36, 4-19 Big Ten).

“It was pivotal,” coach Kate Drohan said. “Especially from the mound. Our pitchers made a lot of good adjustments over the course of the three days, and it’s great to have all of them work.”

NU was on fire the first two games, knocking in 17 runs on 22 hits while sophomore Kristen Wood and freshman Nicole Bond allowed a combined one run.

Majam starred on Friday, knocking in 3 runs on two hits. Allard and Bast both picked up multi-hit games, while sophomore second baseman Brianna LeBeau added her team-leading ninth home run of the season with a shot to right field. The Cats finished off the Spartans early, winning 8-0 in five innings.

The second game featured more of the same. Majam was superb again, scoring three times on three hits while also driving in a run. Bast was also efficient at the plate, getting a hit and twp walks and scoring three times. Bond pitched six innings and gave up only one run on four hits, striking out nine in a 9-1 victory.

Wood got the start Sunday on Senior Day and had another quality outing, pitching one of her best games of the season to finish off the sweep 6-2. She picked up nine strikeouts on the day, moving into second in the Big Ten in strikeouts on the season.

The Cats’ fielders also had a near-perfect day.

Bast made multiple impressive outs on throws to first while Majam made a remarkable play of her own. After giving up a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth inning, Wood struck out two before senior oufielder Sarah Bowling ripped a double to right center, bringing up outfielder Alyssa McBride. The junior singled to left field, but Majam made a perfect one-hop throw to home plate to get Bowling and end the inning.

“I liked our defense all weekend,” Drohan said. “It’s just about being ready. They played great softball pitch-to-pitch. They didn’t let anything get in the way of their focus.”

Albanese, a pitcher, had a big game for NU at the designated player spot, blasting a line drive home run to left field in the second inning to make the score 2-0. Drohan also inserted her to pitch the final inning as a tribute to the senior.

It was a fitting end to the regular season for the Cats, especially for the six departing seniors. NU has fielded very good softball teams in recent years, but the vibe around this team is something different.

“The chemistry that we have is remarkable,” Bast said. “We really feed off one another as far as energy is concerned. We just have a ton of respect and trust in each other. It’s something that I’ve felt before but not in amounts like this.”

With Northwestern set to take on Michigan State on May 8 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, the Cats appear locked in and ready to go.

“I really, really like this team,” Drohan said.

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