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Softball: Wildcats snag win in weekend series

Alcy+Bush+reacts+to+a+ball+in+play.+The+senior+infielder+helped+the+Wildcats+to+a+win+in+their+weekend+series+against+Wisconsin.
Alcy Bush reacts to a ball in play. The senior infielder helped the Wildcats to a win in their weekend series against Wisconsin.

Alcy Bush reacts to a ball in play. The senior infielder helped the Wildcats to a win in their weekend series against Wisconsin.

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Alcy Bush reacts to a ball in play. The senior infielder helped the Wildcats to a win in their weekend series against Wisconsin.

Cole Paxton, Sports Editor

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Softball


It didn’t come conventionally, but Northwestern found a way to get a win against a ranked team.

Senior outfielder Anna Petersen hit a walk-off, inside-the-park home run in the eighth inning Saturday, giving the Wildcats (12-16, 1-2 Big Ten) a win in their three-game weekend series against No. 22 Wisconsin (23-3, 2-1 Big Ten).

Though NU ultimately lost the home series with Sunday’s 7-1 defeat, the win Saturday was still impressive. The Cats picked up their second victory of the season against a ranked team, snapped the Badgers’ 13-game winning streak and needed late heroics to send the game to extra innings.

NU used small ball to plate the tying run in the seventh, relying on a bunt, error and ground ball to send the game to extras. In the top of the eighth, senior first baseman Alcy Bush made a diving play to keep Wisconsin off the scoreboard, allowing Petersen to be the hero in the bottom half of the inning.

Petersen’s deep fly ball to right field went off the glove of a Badgers outfielder and squirted into foul territory, letting her race around the bases as Wisconsin players dug the ball out of the corner. The senior easily beat the throw home to earn the victory.

The win was critical for the Cats as they seek to move closer to a .500 record, the benchmark necessary to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. NU had the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation, with 11 games against ranked teams, making the Cats a prime candidate for a tournament bid should they reach .500.

In the series’ other two games, however, the Badgers exerted their prowess and displayed why they are the ranked team. In Friday’s opener, Wisconsin scored in each of the last six innings to put up a lopsided 14-5 win.

The Badgers were relentless offensively, taking full advantage of 10 walks and drilling NU pitcher Morgan Newport for 8 earned runs in 3.2 innings of relief. It was the most runs the freshman has allowed in a game in her short career.

On Sunday, the visitors secured the series win with standout play in the circle. Wisconsin’s Kaitlyn Menz threw a complete game, allowing a single unearned run and holding the Cats to a paltry four hits.

Offense was no problem for the Badgers, who were effective against senior Nicole Bond before adding insurance runs off Bond and sophomore Kenzie Ellis in the seventh for an eventual 7-1 win.

Big Ten play gets no easier for NU, which travels to Ann Arbor this weekend for a series with No. 20 Michigan, which advanced to the Women’s College World Series last year. The Cats, however, will get a brief reprieve from the rigors of conference play with Wednesday’s contest against local rival UIC (16-15).

Though the Flames have a winning record, they have played a considerably weaker schedule than NU and are just 1-3 against Big Ten opponents this season.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ckpaxton

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