Softball: Confident Wildcats plan to stay aggressive against tough competitors

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Softball: Confident Wildcats plan to stay aggressive against tough competitors

Northwestern meets at the mound. The Wildcats will be participating in their first ever Judi Garman Classic this weekend.

Northwestern meets at the mound. The Wildcats will be participating in their first ever Judi Garman Classic this weekend.

Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Northwestern meets at the mound. The Wildcats will be participating in their first ever Judi Garman Classic this weekend.

Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Northwestern meets at the mound. The Wildcats will be participating in their first ever Judi Garman Classic this weekend.

Melissa Haniff, Reporter

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As the Wildcats head out west once again, Northwestern will get its first-ever shot at the prestigious Judi Garman Classic, hosted by Cal State Fullerton.

The Cats (7-7) will face another tough field of opponents, starting the weekend off with a rematch against No. 22 Fresno State (12-3), who the team lost to in extras last Saturday. NU will also take on Long Beach State (9-7), San Jose State (5-13), Cal State Fullerton (11-6) and No. 19 Arizona State (15-4) over the course of the three-day series.

Coach Kate Drohan noted the team will have to continue to stay assertive and fight for every pitch. But after an exciting win over then-No. 11 UCLA last Sunday, NU is confident it can continue to compete within such a strong field of competitors.

“We really turned a corner on Sunday … we learned some lessons this weekend,” senior pitcher Amy Letourneau said. “We’re all pretty upset we lost to Fresno State, so we’re excited we get a rematch. It’s just about putting our work in this week and working hard.”

The team’s aggressive gameplan will focus on attacking from both sides of the ball. Letourneau, who has appeared in 11 games this season and has also been a leader at the plate, emphasized that the Cats have worked hard to make small adjustments in practice this week before the awaited rematch.

Fresno State is led at the plate by freshman Dominique Jackson, who is hitting .421 with 11 RBIs over 14 appearances. As NU focuses this week on fundamentals, it will also be focused on playing hard to stop late-inning rallies from teams like Fresno State with high offensive power.

Senior catcher Caylor Arnold has been solid behind the plate for the Cats in place of sophomore Sammy Nettling, who is out due to injury, making several smart defensive plays throughout last weekend’s series at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The senior said closing out late innings will be the team’s biggest test this weekend.

“For us, it’s just really finishing our games, finishing our innings and making the plays that we were so close to making … making sure we are diving for that ball and actually stopping it,” Arnold said. “It’s just focusing on the fact that we are good enough to beat these teams and putting a full seven innings together.”

Every team NU will face this weekend will bring offensive heat. Long Beach State’s lineup features at least four batters hitting over .300 and senior Haley Tobler has 13 RBIs over the first few serieses. San Jose State will be led by sophomore Brittany Abacherli, who has hit three home runs and notched 16 RBIs over 17 appearances.

The host team, Cal State Fullerton, will look to senior Courtney Rodriguez to keep its offense anchored, while the team’s defensive play is driven by a two-headed pitching staff that has compiled a 3.22 combined ERA.

No. 19 Arizona State will be yet another ranked opponent NU will face this weekend. Although the Sun Devils have six regulars batting over .400 and six players reaching at least 10 RBIs, the Cats are confident in their ability to bring home several wins this weekend.

“We’re really excited about the Garman because we’re always looking for really high level, good competition,” Drohan said. “We’re ready to get back on the field and we just need to stay aggressive and keep attacking offensively, defensively and from the mound.”

Email: melissahaniff2016@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @melissahaniff

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