Softball: Wildcats remain positive despite rough start


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern is just 3-6 on the season, and the bats are part of the problem. The Wildcats have scored 3 or fewer runs in four of nine contests this season.

Michael Salik, Reporter


Northwestern will find itself in a familiar location this weekend, traveling to the Mary Nutter Classic in California for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

The Wildcats (3-6) are coming off a tough showing at the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic, in which they lost their first three games before salvaging a win against Long Beach State.

Despite the 1-3 outing, NU remains confident, and the team is excited to return to California.

“This is our favorite tournament of the year, it has been part of the fabric of our preseason,” coach Kate Drohan said. “We have a great tradition at this tournament. Our team is really excited about heading out there.”

The Cats have some tough competition to worry about, however, in Cathedral City, California, as they begin the weekend with a game against No. 13 Arizona before taking on Syracuse, No. 14 LSU and South Carolina.

Arizona (10-1) has blown out its opponents on the way to a plus-69 run differential. Behind the strength of sophomore Katiyana Mauga, slugging an incredible 1.038 as of Feb. 15, and freshman pitcher Trish Parks, who has a 0.54 ERA as of Feb. 15, the Wildcats of the West are a force to be reckoned with.

Nonetheless, NU likes how it stacks up against such stiff competition, partially due to the sizable contributions from senior Andrea DiPrima.

DiPrima has been an offensive force this season, batting .348 with 8 RBI. She blasted her second home run of the season this past weekend. Most impressive, however, is DiPrima’s supreme ability to get on base and set up opportunities for her teammates, as reflected by her .516 on-base percentage.

“Part of my approach is that I watch a lot of pitches, and that results in a lot of walks that help out the team,” DiPrima said. “I (also) try to let go of my previous at bats. That’s a lot easier said than done, but I try to leave the past at bats behind, learn from them and take what I learned for future at bats.”

The more salient issue for NU this season has been its play on the defensive side of the ball.

After a couple of tough outings last weekend, junior Amy Letourneau will look to rebound and give a more consistent performance. Junior Kristen Wood’s play on the mound has been encouraging, as she carried no-hitters through five innings in back-to-back days last weekend.

“My mentality’s a lot different this year,” Wood said. “I go in with a lot more confidence. I go in knowing, ‘Hammer the strike zone, throw your stuff.’ I don’t let anything else effect me, like knowing how the other team is. I take it one batter at a time.”

Despite Wood’s strong performance, she has been a bit haunted by the big inning this season, such as the five-run sixth she allowed against BYU.

Avoiding these trap innings is something that the Cats will need to focus on this weekend.

“I need to have the same mentality that I have at the start of the game and not worry about whether or not I have to finish it,” Wood said. “I have to have the same mentality I have throughout the whole game.”

If Wood is able to maintain her performance through an entire contest, as she did in her three-hit performance against Long Beach State on Sunday, her immense talent could take her a long way.

Despite the disappointing start to the season, Drohan remains optimistic about the team’s outlook and the upcoming contests.

“I think we have the skill set and the game, we just have to put it together,” she said. “We’re just trying to get the team to play loose and with the confidence we have in them. We challenged them with a lot of tough games, but it’s going out there and believing in ourselves.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MikeySalesNYC