Softball: No. 15 Gophers sweep Wildcats in weekend series


Lauren Duquette/The Daily Northwestern

Freshman Brooke Marquez takes a big swing. Northwestern had trouble scoring against No. 15 Minnesota and was no-hit in Sunday’s contest.

Melissa Haniff, Reporter


Northwestern’s second conference series on the road this season did not go as anticipated.

The Wildcats (20-14, 8-3 Big Ten) dropped three in a row to conference rival No. 15 Minnesota (33-7, 9-3), leaving NU half a game behind the Golden Gophers in the Big Ten.

The series was marked by solid pitching from Minnesota sophomore Sara Groenewegen, who started both the Friday and Sunday games, and Kylie Stober. The Golden Gophers outplayed NU all weekend, successfully hitting against junior Kristen Wood and junior Amy Letourneau throughout the series.

“Their pitching definitely challenged us the most,” senior left fielder Olivia Duehr said. “They have three really good pitchers, and we didn’t make an adjustment. That’s something we need to continue to work on as the season goes on.” 

Head coach Kate Drohan agreed, noting Minnesota’s hitting prowess.

“Offensively, (Minnesota) did a very good job,” head coach Kate Drohan said. “They were very aggressive in the batter’s box.”

In the first matchup, the Cats allowed 7 runs in the first two innings. NU scored the most runs in Friday’s game of the series, starting with a Julia Kuhn double that brought home freshman catcher Sammy Nettling in the second inning. The Cats scored 4 more runs throughout the rest of the game but were unable to catch up to the Golden Gophers.

“We were able to put some opportunities together (on Friday),” Drohan said. “We scored 5 runs against a good pitcher.”

The Golden Gophers had several big innings throughout the series, with an 8-run fourth in Saturday’s game and a 9-run third on Sunday.

NU held the lead through four innings Saturday, beginning with an enormous solo home run from junior pitcher Amy Letourneau — her seventh of the season — in the second inning. The lead increased to 2-0 off of an RBI from junior second baseman Brianna LeBeau, but the Cats scored just 2 runs all game. In the bottom of the fourth, the Golden Gophers’ offense exploded with a 2-run home run followed by a 3-run home run leading up to the fifth inning.

Sunday’s game followed the same pattern, with an 11-0 Minnesota victory in five innings. NU had no hits in Sunday’s game, with only two Cats finding their way on base after being walked by Groenewegen. Wood, who had a career weekend in the Cats’ last conference series against Purdue, allowed 10 runs on 11 hits in three innings.

Although Duehr came in at pitcher and kept the fourth inning scoreless, Drohan was disappointed with the way the team played throughout the series.

“We just couldn’t compete,” she said. “All in all, we certainly didn’t play Northwestern softball.”

The Cats next face Notre Dame in South Bend on Wednesday, and will then travel to Nebraska for another weekend conference series beginning April 17.

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