Softball: Streaking Wildcats take break from Big Ten schedule to face UIC

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Lauren Duquette/The Daily Northwestern

Andrea DiPrima watches the flight of a hit. The senior outfielder has launched a team-high-tying eight home runs this season.

Max Gelman, Assistant Sports Editor


Softball


Following an impressive three-game sweep over conference rival Purdue (24-14, 4-5 Big Ten) last weekend, Northwestern (20-11, 8-0) will host UIC (15-14, 6-2 Horizon League) for a midweek matchup Wednesday.

The game against the visiting Flames wraps up the Wildcats’ first homestand of the season, where NU has already swept Wisconsin in addition to the Boilermakers. The Cats are riding a six-game winning streak and have won 17 of their last 19.

NU improved its Big Ten record to an undefeated 8-0 over the weekend and sits atop the conference standings. The Cats are a game and a half ahead of Michigan and Rutgers.

One huge factor in NU’s sweep over Purdue was the performances of freshmen outfielder Sabrina Rabin and catcher Sammy Nettling. Facing off against Boilermakers’ ace Lilly Fecho, who ranks fourth in the nation in strikeouts, Rabin collected four hits in the series, scoring three times, and Nettling knocked out two home runs.

Even against Fecho, two Cats kept their hitting streaks alive going into Wednesday’s game. Senior outfielder Andrea DiPrima’s career-high hitting streak reached 15 games on Sunday after she blasted a 2-run home run in the third inning, and Rabin’s 1-for-4 performance extended her streak to 14. Rabin’s streak is also the longest of her brief career.

Additionally, junior Kristen Wood, who was awarded Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors for her performances against Purdue, totaled 27 strikeouts in the series. Wood set career highs in single-game strikeout numbers twice, with 13 on Friday and 14 on Sunday.

Wood’s Pitcher of the Week award was her second of the season. She won the award earlier in the year for the week of March 2-8 when she threw a no-hitter against Ball State. The junior is ranked 14th in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings with 9.9 and 27th in total strikeouts with 155.

Meanwhile, UIC is coming off a weekend series sweep against the University of Detroit and a Horizon League doubleheader versus the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Tuesday afternoon. Flames’ freshman infielder Tiana Mack-Miller leads her team in most offensive categories, including doubles (10), on-base percentage (.400), and slugging percentage (.522) as of Monday.

The Cats also seek to maintain their momentum heading into an important weekend series against No. 11 Minnesota (30-7, 6-3). The Golden Gophers are fifth in the Big Ten standings, but that could change in a hurry this weekend.

NU is 30-9 in its all-time series against UIC, and has won the last six matchups between the teams dating back to 2006. Under coach Kate Drohan, the Cats are 11-1 when playing the Flames, with their only defeat coming in a 4-3 loss on April 20, 2005.

The contest against UIC begins at 4 p.m. at the Sharon J. Drysdale Field.

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Twitter: @MaxGelman

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