Northwestern saw positive results this weekend, winning two games and losing one, in an offense-dominated series against Ohio State.
The teams combined to score 65 runs throughout the three games. The Wildcats’ two wins keep them in the race for fourth in the Big Ten standings.
The Cats (24-19, 12-7 Big Ten) came out strong in the third game of the series behind a solid pitching performance from junior Kristen Wood, who kept the Buckeyes (26-21, 9-11) scoreless through three innings.
NU also played well in the opener, scoring 4 runs in the first inning and 5 more through the next four innings. Even with 9 runs, the Cats were unable to pull out the run-rule, as OSU scored 4 runs of their own in the fifth and sixth innings. The Buckeyes rallied to catch up with the Cats, but NU pulled off a 9-7 win, with three RBIs from senior first baseman Julia Kuhn and two RBIs from freshman catcher Sammy Nettling.
Game two of the series was a nailbiter. After the Cats finally overcame a 3-run deficit during the second inning, a rain delay forced the game to end and pick up the following day. When the game resumed Sunday, the Buckeyes scored 5 runs to bring the score to 8-4 in their favor by the end of the third.
Senior leftfielder Olivia Duehr, who also pitched the entire second part of game two, kept her composure even as OSU piled on the runs.
“I was just thinking about getting ahead and making the defense do something,” she said. “Getting ahead and working ahead always helps.”
The Cats rallied hard for runs to support their pitcher, scoring 5 more off of three straight singles followed by a sacrifice fly from junior shortstop Andrea Filler — her NCAA-leading ninth of the season — a Nettling single and a double from Kuhn.
The offensive showcase didn’t end there: The two teams ended up scoring a combined 37 runs in the second game. The score continued to go back and forth as each team made plays on base, and OSU eventually came away with a close 20-17 win.
Even with the eventual outcome of the game, head coach Kate Drohan said she was happy with the way the team played.
“We have our leftfielder on the mound and she’s battling,” she said. “We needed to make a couple more key defensive plays but I like the way the team’s competing and they still put us in the position to win.”
The last matchup was dominated by Wood’s stellar pitching. The junior had nine strikeouts throughout the game and kept the Buckeyes to only four hits.
NU’s offense came out swinging yet again, scoring 3 runs in the first three innings with RBIs from Filler and senior rightfielder Andrea DiPrima. Although OSU hit a 2-run homer in the fourth, they did not score again until the seventh inning. 6 more runs from the Cats in the fourth and fifth innings sealed their Sunday win by a score of 9-3.
The Sunday Senior Day win was an exciting one for the Cats, who celebrated their four seniors — DiPrima, Duehr, Kuhn and third baseman Anna Edwards — at halftime.
DiPrima said that she hoped the Sunday win would bring the Cats more luck in their next matchups. Duehr agreed and said she was excited to see what the future would hold for the rest of their season.
Drohan noted the impact the four seniors have had on the program and how their presence has provided leadership for freshmen, such as Nettling and centerfielder Sabrina Rabin.
“They’re great people, they’re great students, their work ethic is outstanding,” she said. “We’ve asked them to do a lot of different things through their career and each time they’ve stepped up and made it happen.”
The Cats will next play DePaul at home Wednesday in an afternoon matchup at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
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