Softball: Wildcats drop three of four in Las Vegas


Daily file photo by Brian Lee

Kristen Wood releases a pitch toward the plate. The junior pitcher was a bright spot for Northwestern over the weekend, taking two no-hitters into the fifth inning.

Michael Salik, Reporter


Vegas was no vacation for Northwestern.

The Wildcats (3-6) had a tough weekend at the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada, losing its first three games to No. 12 UCLA, BYU and UNLV before finishing out the event with a win over Long Beach State.

NU began the tournament with a contest against the elite UCLA squad. After taking a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning on a double into left-center from junior infielder Andrea Filler, the Cats allowed 4 runs in the third inning. NU never recovered after facing a barrage of 6 runs, largely thanks to two errors, in the fifth inning of the ballgame.

“The big inning has killed us this year,” coach Kate Drohan said. “We have to be a little bit tougher on the mound and defensively to prevent that from happening.”

In the second game of the tournament, NU took on BYU (6-4). The contest was a defensive battle into the fifth innings, as neither team was able to put a run on the board and Cats junior pitcher Kristen Wood was in the midst of throwing a no-hitter. However, in the sixth frame Filler lifted a sacrifice fly into center field, scoring freshman infielder Marissa Panko and giving the Cats a 1-0 lead. The lead did not last long though, as the Cougars stormed back to put 5 runs on the board in the bottom half of the inning, eventually winning the game 5-1.

Drohan said she was not worried about the team’s play on the defensive side of the ball, but she did note that the Cats have room for improvement.

“It’s all about us playing a complete game,” Drohan said. “I think all aspects of our game could be better.”

After losing an 8-7 heartbreaker to UNLV (5-4), with NU coming up just short after allowing 6 first-inning runs, the Cats took on Long Beach State desperate to salvage a win over the weekend. Behind a strong pitching performance from Wood, the team was able to do just that. Wood allowed just 2 runs on three hits over seven innings on Sunday, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning for the second time that weekend. Wood’s performance was more than enough in a game in which NU smoked two home runs, one from senior infielder Andrea DiPrima, her second of the season, and another from freshman infielder Brooke Marquez, the first of her collegiate career.

“We played a complete game. We had moments throughout the first two weekends where we played great softball and really played at a high level,” Drohan said. “Kristen Wood had a strong finish to the game and I think our offense kept the pressure on throughout the game.”

Over the course of the weekend, DiPrima and Filler kept up their hot hitting, accumulating a combined 9 RBI over the weekend. DiPrima is now batting .348 with an impressive .516 on-base percentage, while Filler is also batting .348 with a .739 slugging percentage.

But on the mound, the play of the team’s pitching staff has been a bit inconsistent. While Wood demonstrated stretches of dominance over the weekend and has emerged as the early season ace, the big inning against BYU proved costly. Junior Amy Letourneau struggled mightily at the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic, allowing 19 runs, 13 earned, over the course of 8.1 innings, driving her season ERA up to 6.73.

Regardless, Drohan recognized the positivity that came out of the tournament’s final game and is optimistic about the team’s outlook going forward.

“We got our act together (Sunday). It’s good to see our team do that,” Drohan said. “I also have a lot of faith in our team’s ability. I really believe the execution will come.”

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