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Softball: Northwestern looks forward to once-a-year battle with DePaul

The+Wildcats+celebrate+a+home+run.+Northwestern+is+looking+to+returning+to+its+winning+ways+Wednesday+against+DePaul.
The Wildcats celebrate a home run. Northwestern is looking to returning to its winning ways Wednesday against DePaul.

The Wildcats celebrate a home run. Northwestern is looking to returning to its winning ways Wednesday against DePaul.

Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

The Wildcats celebrate a home run. Northwestern is looking to returning to its winning ways Wednesday against DePaul.

Evan Augeri, Reporter

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Softball


Northwestern returns home Wednesday for an annual non-conference game with crosstown competitor DePaul.

The Wildcats and DePaul have played a tightly contested series of games in the last decade. Since 2007, NU (16-23, 3-9 Big Ten) is 6-5 against the Chicago-based Blue Demons (22-16) in the regular season. Peculiarly, in each of those 11 games, the home team has come away victorious.

“This DePaul series has been really fun over the years,” coach Kate Drohan said. “Our team gets up for it, their team gets up for it. It’s an important game for us here in the Chicagoland area, so our team will be ready to go.”

DePaul sits second in the Big East with a 7-4 conference record, not far behind first-place St. John’s, and is riding a four-game win streak into Evanston.

Its success has been reliant on a powerful offense that features five players with 5 or more home runs, as well as the dominant pitching of its ace Missy Zoch. She has thrown 10 complete games already this season and compiled a 3.07 ERA.

Drohan said her team should be able to halt DePaul’s momentum and counter its strengths with defensive improvements and a continuation of its strong pitching of prior weeks.

“It’s the same thing I’ve been saying all season — defense,” Drohan said. “Our key heading into this game and the next couple of weeks will be being consistent on the defensive side and being aggressive on the mound. Our offense will come; we have some people who are really starting to get hot.”

The Cats did make four errors over the weekend when they were swept on the road by then-No. 6 Minnesota (38-3, 11-1). But their biggest weakness, a theme of their season so far, was a lack of offense.

Senior outfielder Anna Petersen, the lineup’s spark plug in recent weeks, regressed from her extraordinary weekend against Maryland that earned her Big Ten Player of the Week honors, hitting 2-for-9 with a lone RBI. But the rest of the bats didn’t help much, adding just 10 more hits in the three-game series.

“We definitely could’ve handled certain pitches better,” junior outfielder Sabrina Rabin said. “We need to be a little bit more adaptive while batting.”

The Cats’ issues of moving baserunners and scoring runs also continued. Though it was outscored 17-4, NU left a total of 16 runners on base.

Even still, Drohan said the fact that NU played hard against a national powerhouse is reason for optimism.

“We had a lot of defensive stops, great pitching performances and some key clutch hits, so I think we played tough,” she said. “We still have to take that next step, and get a game and get a series, and go from that.”

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Twitter: @augerie

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