Softball: Wildcats to face struggling rival DePaul

Andrea Filler takes a big swing. The junior shortstop took home Big Ten Player of the Week honors for her strong performances against Illinois and Ohio State.

Lauren Duquette/The Daily Northwestern

Andrea Filler takes a big swing. The junior shortstop took home Big Ten Player of the Week honors for her strong performances against Illinois and Ohio State.

Max Gelman, Assistant Sports Editor

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As the regular season draws to a close, Northwestern will host local rival DePaul on Wednesday for its last non-conference game of the year.

The Wildcats (24-19, 12-7 Big Ten) will wrap up their final homestand of the season against the Blue Demons (20-21, 11-3 Big East) after splitting a doubleheader with Illinois and taking two of three from Ohio State. Wednesday’s game has some history behind it, as the home team has won each matchup between the rivals dating back to 2009.

NU currently sits in fifth place in the Big Ten and has a chance finish in fourth with a sweep against Iowa (16-37, 7-13) this weekend, obtaining an important first-round bye for the conference tournament next week.

Although Wednesday’s game would normally be a contest between two regional powerhouses, DePaul has struggled to stay above .500 this season following a 44-win season in 2013-14. Despite the Blue Demons’ struggles, coach Kate Drohan and the Cats won’t be approaching the matchup any differently.

“This is one of the most important games of the year for us, especially with the timing of it,” Drohan said. “They’re one of our big Chicago rivals and we need to finish strong here at the end of the year.”

Drohan also emphasized DePaul’s record doesn’t matter because of how well-coached and scrappy the team is. Tammy Williams, an assistant for the Blue Demons, is a former NU All-American who won consecutive Big Ten Player of the Year awards in 2008-09. Williams also holds the University’s career home run record with 57 blasts.

Junior shortstop Andrea Filler agreed with Drohan, saying all wins are created equal no matter the opponent.

“Any time we can get a chance to win a ballgame we want to go out and play our hardest,” Filler said. “With (DePaul) being so close to us and being a rival, we always want to have that one-up on them.”

Filler even took a playful jab at Williams, her predecessor at the shortstop position, claiming that facing off against a former Wildcat stokes the fire of the rivalry.

Additionally, Filler took home Big Ten Player of the Week honors for April 21-27. The award was the second of Filler’s career and third of NU’s season thus far. She slugged 1.214 and blasted two home runs over the homestand while also driving in 12 RBI.

Freshman center fielder Sabrina Rabin, who has quietly put together an excellent first season, weighed in on the mentality transition from six straight conference matchups to a non-conference game.

“We have the same approach,” Rabin said. “We want to get better every single time, so obviously you can’t underestimate any opponent. Our approach is probably more intense because we want to be ready for the (Big Ten) tournament.”

Rabin and NU play their final home game of the year against the Blue Demons beginning at 4 p.m.

Email: maxgelman2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @MaxGelman

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