Softball: As regular season wraps up, Wildcats proud of self-improvement

Junior+infielder+Andrea+Filler+steps+into+a+throw+after+fielding+the+ball.+The+Wildcats+prepare+for+the+final+series+of+the+regular+season+on+the+road+this+weekend+against+Iowa.
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Softball: As regular season wraps up, Wildcats proud of self-improvement

Junior infielder Andrea Filler steps into a throw after fielding the ball. The Wildcats prepare for the final series of the regular season on the road this weekend against Iowa.

Junior infielder Andrea Filler steps into a throw after fielding the ball. The Wildcats prepare for the final series of the regular season on the road this weekend against Iowa.

Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior infielder Andrea Filler steps into a throw after fielding the ball. The Wildcats prepare for the final series of the regular season on the road this weekend against Iowa.

Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior infielder Andrea Filler steps into a throw after fielding the ball. The Wildcats prepare for the final series of the regular season on the road this weekend against Iowa.

Max Gelman, Assistant Sports Editor

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Northwestern will hit the road Friday looking to clinch a first round bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament with a series against Iowa to end its season.

The Wildcats (25-19, 12-7 Big Ten) currently sit in fifth place in the Big Ten standings and a half-game behind Illinois (28-20, 13-7). NU must sweep the Hawkeyes (16-37, 7-13) this weekend to sneak into a top-four spot and steal the bye from the Fighting Illini.

If the Cats fail to sweep Iowa, there is a chance they could get some help moving up in the standings. Illinois is playing third-place Nebraska in a three-game series this weekend, and the two teams are only separated in the Big Ten standings by two games. If NU takes only two of three games from 12th-place Iowa, Illinois will have to lose at least two games to Nebraska for the Cats to move up.

Junior shortstop Andrea Filler is focused on sweeping Iowa to acquire that coveted bye.

“Getting three wins this weekend is huge going into the Big Ten Tournament,” Filler said. “It would be really exciting too to get back on track from where we were at the beginning of Big Ten play.”

Filler, who won Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the week of April 21, is one of three NU players to start all 44 games this season. She leads the team in doubles, home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.

With the season almost over, Filler reflected on how the Cats have improved over the year.

“From the team as a whole, I would say we all have started to mesh together a lot more on defense,” Filler said. “There’s a lot more communication out there, (and) we’ve learned each other’s strengths, which has helped us a lot.”

Freshman centerfielder Sabrina Rabin also noticed NU’s growth during the regular season. Rabin expanded on Filler’s sentiment, and said the team is better at driving in runners now than at the beginning of the season.

In her first year, Rabin has emerged as one of the fastest players in the Big Ten. Although only three of her team-leading 61 hits went for extra-bases, Rabin has showed off her speed by stealing 24 bases — good for third in the Big Ten — and also has the second best batting average on the team at .401.

Coach Kate Drohan, wrapping up her 14th season, said earlier this season that she has more faith in this year’s offense than in any other she’s coached at NU. Drohan also she believes that it’s been the biggest area of improvement for the team.

“I like the offensive pressure we’ve been creating especially in the last week,” Drohan said. “We’ve done some good work in that we were able to keep ourselves in some ballgames, and also taking control of other games.”

Offense wasn’t the only aspect of the game Drohan praised. Because sophomore pitcher Nicole Bond has been injured since before the season started and the rubber-armed Amy Letourneau was recently sidelined for two weeks, senior Olivia Duehr pitched for the first time in her college career last month.

“I think our pitchers are really being warriors right now,” Drohan said. “They’re battling through with what we have, and that’s all we can ask of our team.”

NU’s series with Iowa begins Friday at 4 p.m. at Pearl Field in Iowa City, Iowa.

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

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