Softball: Northwestern earns dominant run-rule win against DePaul, prepares for Purdue
April 19, 2017
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Everything seemed to go right for Northwestern on Wednesday afternoon as it claimed a run-rule victory in a non-conference game against local rival DePaul.
The Wildcats (17-23, 3-9 Big Ten) needed just 6 innings to fight off the Blue Demons (22-17). The hosts jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, and later clinched the win with a 4-run sixth inning for an 8-0 final score.
NU played impressively in all facets of the game, but its biggest performance came from sophomore pitcher Kaley Winegarner, who allowed just three hits and struck out six in a dominant complete game, her fourth of the season.
“(I felt) confident,” Winegarner said. “I knew I was going to be able to do it for my team today.”
Winegarner kept her composure even in the game’s most key moments. In the top of the sixth inning, DePaul put a runner in scoring position for the first time. But the sophomore silenced the Blue Demons with a pair of outs to end the rally and secure the shutout.
“After that hit I allowed, I felt a shift in myself where I knew I was going to be able to make sharp pitches in order to get the outs,” Winegarner said. “I tried to approach every pitch the same, whether we were ahead or behind.”
NU made strides in other areas that have been weaknesses recently. Not long after committing nine errors in a series and leaving 20 runners on base in a three-game stretch, the Cats were error-free and only left four on base against DePaul.
However, coach Kate Drohan said she was most pleased with the offensive output that ended the game an inning early.
With two outs in the sixth inning, senior infielder Alcy Bush ripped a two-run double, junior outfielder Sabrina Rabin followed with a RBI double of her own and junior infielder Marissa Panko singled to plate Rabin for the Cats’ eighth and final run.
“It’s nice to take control of a game, and I really liked how our team did not become complacent and we kept the pressure on,” Drohan said. “They changed pitchers often and I think we adjusted very well. Our focus was good … and we were just really excited to play.”
NU’s win makes it 7-5 in regular season games against DePaul since 2007. It also marks the 11th straight year in which the home team has won their annual matchup.
“It really speaks to the back-and-forth nature of the rivalry that we have,” she said. “We’re two Chicago teams that have made it to the World Series multiple times, we’re two private institutions. … It’s always a big game.”
The Cats now look ahead to this weekend’s series with Big Ten foe Purdue.
The Boilermakers (17-29, 6-8) rank just ahead of the Cats in the Big Ten standings but have yet to play conference powerhouse No. 5 Minnesota, which earned two first-place votes in the coaches poll after sweeping NU last weekend.
Purdue is coming off a split weekend with Wisconsin in which it won one of three contests. Its roster features a pair of workhouse pitchers, but a notable lack of power. The Boilermakers have tallied only eight home runs as a team this season, just two more than NU cleanup hitter Anna Petersen.
Drohan said she sees much of the same in Purdue as she has in conference opponents of past weeks.
“They’re like every other Big Ten team: they’re tough, they’re gritty, they’re going to be scrappy,” she said. “We’ve got to play a complete game.”