Softball: Wildcats go 3-2, beat No. 11 Alabama at Husky Invitational


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Marissa Panko takes off from second base. The senior shortstop played a key role in Sunday’s win over No. 11 Alabama.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Reporter


Northwestern split four games on Friday and Saturday in Seattle, but picked up its biggest win of the year Sunday morning.

After beating Portland State twice and losing to No. 1 Washington and Brigham Young, the Wildcats (10-8) took down No. 11 Alabama 4-0 behind a complete-game, three-hit effort from sophomore pitcher Morgan Newport.

“I was just trying to attack the strike zone and really trust my defense behind me,” Newport said of her Sunday effort. “We are in a really good place right now. We understand there’s so much room for improvement, and we have a lot of opportunities to get better.”

NU started the Husky Invitational well, defeating Portland State (2-12) 6-0 on Friday afternoon. Freshman pitcher Kenna Wilkey threw a five-hit shutout and senior center fielder Sabrina Rabin hit a three-run triple in the second inning to give the Cats all the runs they would need. They then held their own in the nightcap Friday against the top-ranked Huskies (23-0) before Washington pulled away late to win 8-2.

NU had a more difficult time against the Vikings on Saturday morning, but held on for a 7-4 victory. Senior pitcher Nicole Bond had her best outing of the year, departing with one out in the fifth and her team leading 5-1.

Junior Kenzie Ellis entered and allowed a three-run home run to make it a 5-4 game, but Newport came on and secured the Cats’ victory.

Newport also drove in four runs in the game, including three on a fourth-inning double that gave the Cats the lead. Freshman second baseman Rachel Lewis gave NU some much-need insurance in the seventh with a two-run double that accounted for the final margin of victory.

“We felt pretty good,” Rabin said. “We know that we’re a really great team when we play our game, so just coming out here and winning showed us that we really do have all the tools.”

In their second game Saturday, the Cats suffered a run-rule, 8-0 loss to BYU (8-11) but NU came back to get a big win on Sunday.

Newport set the tone from the start against the Crimson Tide (12-5), inducing weak contact and letting NU’s defense make plays.
“Newport threw a gem,” coach Kate Drohan said. “She was in complete control of the game right from the start. Our defense made some great plays on some well-hit balls that kind of bailed her out a little bit.”

NU put together its big rally in the third. After a pair of hits, senior shortstop Marissa Panko lined a two-out single down the left-field line to drive in the game’s first run. Lewis capped the rally and the scoring for the day with a booming three-run homer to give the Cats a four-run lead.

Newport took care of the rest, working around a pair of walks in the sixth and then throwing a perfect seventh to complete the win.

“They understand that when they give the kind of effort, have the kind of focus that we had, the results will come,” Drohan said. “We’ve been working for wins like this all year, it’s just a matter of our team really understanding what it takes to win a game like that.”

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