Softball: Williams throws fifth perfect game in program history

Northwestern+player+in+white+uniform+with+arm+raised+prepares+to+pitch.

Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Danielle Williams throws a pitch. Williams pitched the fifth perfect game in Northwestern history.

Nathan Ansell, Reporter


Softball


Having retired the last 20 batters she faced and up 0-2 in the count, junior pitcher Danielle Williams had history in her sights. 

Iowa’s Denali Loecker watched as Williams’ final pitch sailed past her into junior catcher Jordyn Rudd’s mitt, completing the 7-0 shutout and fifth perfect game ever for Northwestern softball — and the first in over 15 years.

“I went straight to Jordyn — I honestly don’t remember, really,” Williams said. “I feel like I went straight to her because I see her every pitch, we go there together.”

Williams was efficient throughout the afternoon, only needing 90 pitches — her lowest per-inning count in 10 pitching appearances — to shut out the Hawkeyes. Even though she struck out only six, Williams rarely allowed any balls to leave the infield and received great defensive help from her teammates. 

“She set that tempo clearly in the beginning of the game,” coach Kate Drohan said. “Our defense made a couple of big plays early, and then we really got a lot of momentum on the defensive side of the ball.”

The Wildcats (19-6, 19-6 Big Ten) were up to the task on offense as well. Graduate utility player Morgan Newport launched a two-run home run past the center field fence, Rudd went 3-4 with three runs-batted-in and senior second baseman Rachel Lewis was a double away from hitting for the cycle.

“Rachel hitting a home run (in) the second at-bat of the game, I feel like that was a big trigger for us,” Williams said.

Understandably, there was growing enthusiasm among NU’s players as the game progressed. By the time Williams struck out all three batters in the 5th inning, the entire Cats team was sensing something special.

“The golden rule is, ‘You can’t talk about it, you can’t say it out loud,’” Drohan said. “But the cheers got a little bit every time she was ahead in the count, or a swing and a miss, there was a lot more excitement and energy in the dugout.”

Following the victory, NU still has three more showdowns against Iowa (14-11, 14-11 Big Ten) this weekend, including a doubleheader on Saturday. 

That means it’s back to business for Drohan and the Cats. 

“Right now, it’s all about the next game,” Drohan said. “I’m sure after the weekend, we can reflect a little bit about the achievement.”

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Twitter: @NathanJAnsell

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