Softball: Wildcats fall to ranked opponents at Big Ten-ACC Challenge


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Kenzie Ellis winds up. The sophomore is optimistic of Northwestern’s chances next weekend after a winless weekend in California.

Fathma Rahman, Web Editor


The Wildcats dropped four games this weekend in Tallahassee, Florida, where they faced two ranked opponents in No. 1 Florida State and No. 20 Pittsburgh at the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Despite eventually going winless, Northwestern (1-8) opened its weekend slate with a strong early-game showing against the undefeated Seminoles (10-0).

The Cats were tied at 2 with the nation’s top team entering the bottom of the seventh inning, but Florida State scored a walk-off run on an NU throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. The Cats then lost the second game to the Seminoles in a more decisive fashion, falling 7-0 with freshman Morgan Newport pitching 5.2 innings and sophomore Kenzie Ellis logging 1.1 innings in relief.

“The first day we handled when things went wrong in our game really well, but the second game we just didn’t adjust as well,” Ellis said. “Throughout the weekend, we continued to get better and make adjustments as we’re figuring out how to win.”

NU played two close games against Pittsburgh (9-0), but ultimately lost both. The first went into extra innings where the Panthers were able to score and then shut out the Cats with a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth. The second game ended in a 6-4 loss for NU after the Cats let up five runs in the sixth inning and never bounced back.

Looking back at the Cats’ performance at the Hillenbrand Invitational the weekend before, coach Kate Drohan said the team made good adjustments on the field and needs to focus on execution moving forward.

“We’ve got to close the door, we’ve got to finish these games,” Drohan said. “It’s about staying in the moment, paying attention and making bold and decisive decisions to take charge of the ball in the game.”

Ellis said the team is still working out some of its hitches, but said it’s heading in the right direction. She said she is optimistic the Cats will snap up a few wins this upcoming weekend.

“We’re really starting to mesh well as a team and we’re pretty young, so everybody’s figuring out what role we’re gonna play and how well we’re gonna play it,” Ellis said.

The Cats will next travel to Cathedral City, California for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, where they will face four teams — two of which are ranked. Six of NU’s eight losses this season have come against ranked opponents.

Newport is also confident headed into next weekend, saying she and her team will focus on the “little things” to keep sharp and stay tight on to secure some wins.

“We did a really great job at competing and staying in the moment,” Newport said. “It instilled some confidence in us that we can compete with really great teams and have a chance to win.”

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