Softball: Drohans seek 600th career win as Northwestern welcomes Notre Dame

Kate+Drohan+high-fives+Morgan+Nelson+as+she+rounds+third+base.+The+coach+has+a+chance+to+earn+her+600th+career+win+Tuesday+against+Notre+Dame.

Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Kate Drohan high-fives Morgan Nelson as she rounds third base. The coach has a chance to earn her 600th career win Tuesday against Notre Dame.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Assistant Sports Editor


Softball


Northwestern’s coaches always try to make everything about their players. But sometimes, the spotlight inevitably falls on them.

Tuesday will be one of those times. The Wildcats’ game against Notre Dame is an important one in terms of building the team’s NCAA Tournament resume, but for Kate and Caryl Drohan, it’s a chance to earn their 600th career win as head coach and associate head coach, respectively.

Kate Drohan first came to NU in 1998 as an assistant to Sharon Drysdale, who compiled a 640-512-3 record as the Cats’ head coach from 1979 to 2001. After being promoted to head coach prior to the 2002 season, she recruited Caryl, her twin sister, to come to Evanston as her top assistant, and the two have been coaching together ever since.

The Drohans rebuilt NU into a national power, winning Big Ten championships in 2006 and 2008 and playing in the Women’s College World Series in 2006 and 2007. The 2006 team made it all the way to the national championship series before losing to Arizona.

“Honestly, I don’t think about the number at all,” Kate Drohan said. “Right now, in the thick of our season, we’re just thinking about our next opportunity. Perhaps at the end of the season, I’ll be able to reflect on it a little bit more.”

This season has been the Cats’ best year since those great teams of the late 2000s. NU (29-7, 9-0 Big Ten) is tied for first in the conference with Michigan, with Minnesota one game back and Ohio State and Wisconsin two off the pace.

Before returning to conference play, however, the Cats will first host the Fighting Irish (24-12, 7-5 ACC) and then travel to Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday. The matchup with Notre Dame will feature two teams in the top 30 of the RPI rankings, with NU at No. 17 and the Fighting Irish at No. 30.

After spending their last two weekends on the road, nine of the Cats’ next 10 games will be in Evanston, and the only away game — Wednesday’s contest against the Flames — is only a 20-mile drive away.

“The next two weeks are big for us,” Drohan said. “As a team, we have to attack it one game at a time, but we love playing at home.”

Notre Dame’s offense is led by Ali Wester, who sports a .425 batting average, and Cait Brooks, who leads the team with 13 home runs and 33 RBIs. On the pitching front, Payton Tidd and Alexis Holloway have carried the load for the Fighting Irish, with Tidd leading the staff with a 15-5 record and a 2.49 ERA.

NU leads the all-time series against Notre Dame 13-10, including an 8-3 win in South Bend, Indiana last year. The last time the two teams played in Evanston, the Fighting Irish won 10-2 in 2017.

“Notre Dame, year in and year out, is a tough game for us,” Drohan said. “It’s a back-and-forth series. It’s a big game for us regionally, and we’ll be ready to go on Tuesday. We’re already looking forward to it.”

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