Softball: Northwestern riding 13-3 stretch following series win against Nebraska

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Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Sammy Nettling prepares to catch a pitch. Nettling has excelled at both catching and batting this season, recording hits in 11 of Northwestern’s last 13 games.

Andrew Golden, Reporter


Softball


Northwestern grabbed a second Big Ten series win this weekend, taking two of three games from Nebraska. The Wildcats have won 13 of their last 16 games, beginning with a win over now-No. 16 Alabama on March 4.

With the win against Alabama, NU (22-11, 5-3) began a 10-game winning streak, including five games at the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic and two conference wins against Minnesota before the Golden Gophers ended the streak.

The series win over Nebraska (25-12, 3-3) this weekend marked the first for NU over the Cornhuskers since they joined the conference in 2011. After losing their first game 6-2 on Friday, the Cats relied on their offense to carry them to two wins by 8-3 and 9-5 scores after trailing early in both games.

Coach Kate Drohan said her team has the right mentality when it is losing early.

“I really like our poise and our composure,” Drohan said. “There’s certainly isn’t any panic; it’s just about who’s going to get us started offensively.”

The Cats were able to produce hits and runs throughout their lineup during Big Ten play and this weekend.

Drohan said she has enjoyed watching the Cats’ balanced attack because their hits are coming from a variety of players.

“Our biggest strength is our offense and how competitive we are in the batter’s box,” Drohan said. “We had great pressure through the entire lineup today.”

NU has a couple of players leading the Big Ten statistically, including senior center fielder Sabrina Rabin, who ranks third in the Big Ten with a .402 batting average. Rabin is also leading the Big Ten in steals and steal attempts, while junior left fielder Morgan Nelson is tied for fifth in steals with 13.

Freshman second baseman Rachel Lewis has been one of the best players in the conference, ranking third in home runs with 11 and leading the league in RBIs with 41. Drohan also gave credit to contributions from senior catcher Sammy Nettling.

Although the Cats have had a lot of success recently, Drohan stressed that they still have plenty of room to improve. In particular, Drohan said the pitching needs to improve.

“I think our pitchers need to step up,” Drohan said. “They’ve been roughed up these last couple of series and our offense has bailed them out. We’re looking for them to limit the crooked numbers in innings.”

Since their winning streak ended, NU’s pitching staff has given up 7.3 runs per game, a drastic difference from the 2.8 runs per game they gave up during their 10-game win streak.

Even though the Cats’ rotation has been struggling, Drohan praised freshman Kenna Wilkey’s growth this season, which showed when she gave up only 1 run in 5.1 innings pitched Sunday. The Cats will look to improve with 19 games left in the regular season.

“We’re still working on being better and we’re still working on growing in certain ways,” Drohan said. “The team has confidence, but also their focus is there. They’re still working to get better. We’re still definitely in that process of growing.”

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Twitter: @andrewcgolden

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