Softball: No. 18 Northwestern returns to Mary Nutter Classic


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Jordyn Rudd rounds third base. Rudd leads the Wildcats in runs batted in (10) and doubles (3) so far this season.

Nathan Ansell, Assistant Sports Editor

If you’re reading this before Feb. 27, coach Kate Drohan and Northwestern softball are probably enjoying better weather than you are somewhere in the heart of California’s Coachella Valley.

The No. 18 Wildcats (7-2, 0-0 Big Ten), fresh off a head-turning performance at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, are back in action this weekend. This time, Drohan and NU will be traveling to Palm Desert, California to take on five more opponents at the Mary Nutter Classic.

The Cats’ first test comes at the hands of No. 9 Oregon (8-1, 0-0 Pac-12). The Ducks avenged their lone loss of the season so far, a 3-0 defeat to Baylor, with two more wins against the same opponent, continuing an impressive season. Oregon has prevailed in each of its last four matchups with NU dating back to 2012.

San Diego State (9-2, 0-0 Mountain West) will be the Cats’ opponent in the second half of Friday’s doubleheader. Riding a four-game win streak, the Aztecs have played their entire schedule at home so far. The two teams also faced off in 2018’s iteration of the same event, a match that NU won 3-0 in eight innings.

A softball powerhouse awaits in the Cats’ next game. No. 5 Washington (9-1, 0-0 Pac-12) has made the Women’s College World Series three times in the past five seasons, and the Huskies are off to a similarly red-hot start this year. Washington infielder Baylee Klingler is averaging a home run in every other game this season, and the Huskies have won every showdown against NU since 2014.

Cal State Fullerton (9-3, 0-0 Big West) will be the penultimate foe this weekend. Titans infielder Peyton Toto has a .567 batting average this season, 7th in the nation. The Cats and Cal State Fullerton have faced off 28 times before, but not since 2016.

NU concludes its tournament schedule against Texas Tech (4-7, 0-0 Big 12), a team with revenge on its mind. The Cats beat the Red Raiders 9-6 in last weekend’s opening game, the sixth between both teams in program history. Texas Tech did clear the fence three times in that game but only managed six hits in total. NU, by contrast, recorded 13.

The Cats are familiar with all five opponents to varying degrees. After last weekend’s performance, Drohan told The Daily she was happy with the level of competition, but she still saw several areas for improvement.

If Drohan’s squad manages to make those improvements, the success could easily continue.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @nathanjansell

Related Stories

Softball: Nelson’s walk-off becomes the pinnacle of impressive weekend for Northwestern

Softball: Northwestern hoping for an even stronger 2022 season

Softball: Northwestern faces top-tier opposition at St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational