Softball: Northwestern offense struggles as Wildcats go 2-2 on weekend


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Morgan Nelson comes in to score a run. The Cats scored 16 of those across four games, but 12 came in a single game as the offense turned in an inconsistent performance.

Andrew Golden, Reporter


Northwestern’s offense struggled to find its rhythm until the final game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, California this weekend, finishing the tournament 2-2.

Friday, the Wildcats (7-6) didn’t score through the first seven innings against San Diego State, a team they had beaten in extra innings earlier in the season. They had the same result against the Aztecs this time around, scoring three runs in the eighth inning to win their opening game.

Following the win, NU lost twice, scoring just one run on seven hits in two games against Long Beach State and No. 11 Tennessee. On the final day of the tournament, the Cats burst out of their hitting slump, beating St. John’s 12-3 in five innings.

Senior center fielder Sabrina Rabin said that NU needs to be bolder in the batter’s box from the beginning of the game to score more.

“We really just need to come out being aggressive (when) hitting,” Rabin said Sunday. “Just make sure we’re hitting as a team — like today, we did a much better job just scoring runs.”

Despite the inconsistent hitting this weekend, coach Kate Drohan said the Cats did a good job getting players on base and stealing bases, but they didn’t execute to get those runners home. Both Drohan and Rabin agreed that speed is central to the team, but Drohan said they have to do more than just get runners on base.

“Our speed was key to our offense in our wins, and that’s going to be the backbone of our offense,” Drohan said. “But for our team to take the next step, we need to come up with some timely hits to score these runners.”

NU tied the school record with eight steals in Sunday’s game against St. John’s, something it hadn’t done since May 11, 2012, against Illinois. The Cats stole 14 bases this weekend and now rank third in the NCAA with 3.15 steals per game.

NU was also strong defensively, and sophomore pitcher Morgan Newport said the team did a good job of backing her up on the mound this weekend.

“My defense behind me is always so strong. They do such a great job,” Newport said. “My job is to pound the zone. I’m going to roll them ground balls, and they’re going to make the plays, and they really did that this weekend. I’m really thankful for them.”

Newport picked up her second and third wins of the season this weekend. She came on in relief to pitch four scoreless innings against San Diego State on Friday. She said that facing the Aztecs for a second time helped her to exploit their weaknesses by throwing the right pitches at the right time to adjust to their tendencies.

Despite the team’s record this weekend, Drohan thinks that games against tough competition will help them grow into an experienced team with only two weekends until conference play begins.

“We’re trying to teach our team, especially our freshman, the pace of the game,” Drohan said. “We love coming out to this tournament because there are so many fans. And to play Tennessee on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the park … it’s a great year for our freshman and for our team. It’s why we play the game.”

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