Softball: Wildcats look to keep rolling against Loyola


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Sammy Nettling takes a swing. The senior catcher has been red hot at the plate in recent weeks.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Reporter


Coming off a dramatic sweep of a three-game series at Rutgers, Northwestern will take a break from its Big Ten schedule to host Loyola on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (29-13) scored 7 runs in the seventh inning on Saturday to come away with a 10-5 win. On Sunday, they outdid themselves, erasing a 7-1 deficit with another 7-run, seventh-inning rally to sweep the Scarlet Knights. NU has now won seven straight and 20 of its last 25.

“We played a very tough, very scrappy team out of Rutgers,” coach Kate Drohan said. “Thinking about our two comebacks, those were important moments for our team, but our team understands that we’ve got a lot more ahead of us here.”

The Cats’ offense has been on fire of late, averaging nearly 12 runs per game during their seven-game winning streak. As a team, NU is hitting .333 in Big Ten play, with six starters hitting above .300 against conference opponents.

Senior catcher Sammy Nettling has helped key the offensive surge. She led off the seventh inning Sunday with a home run, then capped the rally with a 3-run triple to give the Cats an 8-7 lead and ultimately the victory.

“Just a credit to our entire lineup for hitting through the order and allowing me to be up in that position,” Nettling said. “With Sabrina (Rabin) on third and Rachel (Lewis) on second, I knew I didn’t have to do too much. I got a decent pitch and went with it to right field.”

NU’s hitters have been settling into their roles in the lineup. Senior center fielder Sabrina Rabin is the offensive catalyst at the top of the order. Freshman second baseman Rachel Lewis and junior left fielder Morgan Nelson provide the majority of the power. Nettling and senior shortstop Marissa Panko have driven in a combined 18 runs in the Cats’ last seven games.

The rest of the starters are also capable of getting a timely hit, and none are automatic outs. Every NU starter is hitting at least .250 in conference play.

“We’ve been really focused on our preparation for the games,” Lewis said. “Everyone knows what pitch they want to hit and everybody’s settling into their swings, so I think the lineup has been really clicking.”

Freshman Kenna Wilkey has been carrying the pitching staff lately. Wilkey has earned the win in every game during the Cats’ current streak. Senior Nicole Bond and sophomore Morgan Newport have struggled recently, but Drohan said they are working hard to gain their confidence back.

In Loyola (21-22), NU will see a local rival that is having an inconsistent season. Outfielder Shannon McGee leads the Ramblers by far with a .382 batting average, and Kiley Jones sports a sparkling 1.90 ERA. Loyola has a win against a solid Notre Dame team, but is just 7-12 in Missouri Valley Conference play.

“This is always a tough game on our schedule,” Drohan said. “You want to be Chicago’s team. They’re very fundamentally sound, they have great pitching, and we’re going to need to challenge them and speed up the game a little bit.”

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