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Softball: Northwestern struggles on mound, losing 2 of 3 against Purdue

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Softball: Northwestern struggles on mound, losing 2 of 3 against Purdue

Sammy Nettling looks to run from first base. The senior catcher hit two home runs in Northwestern’s series loss against Purdue.

Sammy Nettling looks to run from first base. The senior catcher hit two home runs in Northwestern’s series loss against Purdue.

Daniel Tian

Sammy Nettling looks to run from first base. The senior catcher hit two home runs in Northwestern’s series loss against Purdue.

Daniel Tian

Daniel Tian

Sammy Nettling looks to run from first base. The senior catcher hit two home runs in Northwestern’s series loss against Purdue.

Andrew Golden, Reporter

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Northwestern took a step back in West Lafayette, Indiana, as it lost its weekend series against Purdue, falling in the first two games, 14-6 and 6-3, before winning the final game, 17-8.

With the series loss, the Wildcats (23-13, 6-5 Big Ten) lost their first conference series to the Boilermakers (10-28, 3-6), a team that has the second-worst overall record in the conference. NU’s pitching staff struggled this weekend and its offense didn’t back them up until the last game.

Sophomore pitcher Morgan Newport didn’t get out of the first inning of the two games she started, only getting one out while giving up 11 earned runs and eight hits.

Freshman pitcher Kenna Wilkey relieved the starting pitchers in all three games, throwing 312 pitches in 15.1 innings. She pitched all but one out on Friday and got every out on Sunday. Coach Kate Drohan said Wilkey was reliable all weekend.

“She was (the go-to pitcher) this weekend,” Drohan said. “The nice thing about our team is that it has been a different person every weekend.”

Even as a freshman, Wilkey has been a clutch pitcher all season. She leads the team with 104 innings pitched and 89 strikeouts.

Wilkey said she enjoyed being considered the go-to person this weekend.

“It was definitely a new role for me,” Wilkey said. “I just wanted to be able to help my team out. I wish I could’ve done more in the first two games, but in the third game, we all came around and it felt really good.”

In the third game, Wilkey not only had an impact on the mound but also came through at the plate, hitting two home runs and 6 RBIs, leading the Cats’ offensive attack.

After NU scored five runs in the first inning on Sunday, Purdue bounced back with seven runs in the bottom of the inning. The Cats then outscored the Boilermakers 12-1 over the next five innings.

Drohan said NU put all the pieces together in its win on Sunday.

“There were moments where we were great offensively in the first two games and there were moments where we were really pressing,” Drohan said. “Today we put together a complete performance and we had some different people step up.”

NU got major contributions from senior catcher Sammy Nettling, who hit two home runs this weekend, and junior left fielder Morgan Nelson, who went 4-for-4 on Sunday with 5 RBIs.

Nettling said even though they were successful Sunday, the team needs to be more consistent moving forward.

“We’re definitely a team where hitting is contagious for us,” Nettling said. “At times, like today, we’re gonna put up 17 runs, and at times we’re not going to show up and only put up 3 or 4. It’s a matter of riding the waves of that consistency and just scratching, clawing (and) finding ways to produce runs when we aren’t necessarily feeling our best.”

The Cats’ identity this season has been producing runs offensively and being aggressive on the basepaths, regardless of the pitching performances.

As NU looks ahead to No. 23 Ohio State next weekend, Nettling thinks the Cats have to focus on the things they did well and forget about the past.

“Any time you can put up 17 runs, it definitely gives you a confidence boost,” Nettling said. “(We’ve) just got to focus on the positives and keep moving forward.”

Email: andrewgolden2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @andrewcgolden

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