Baseball: Northwestern hopes to build on strong individual performances in upcoming series against Cincinnati


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Mike Doherty throws a pitch. Northwestern will play Cincinnati this weekend.

Lucas Kim, Reporter

Northwestern’s first two series have not exactly gone the way the team envisioned before the season started. 

The Wildcats (1-7, 0-0 Big Ten) are off to their worst eight-game start since 2017, when the team also started out 1-7.

Looking back on how the season has started, sophomore center fielder Ethan O’Donnell points to a lack of consistency and focus as main reasons for the team’s lackluster showing.

“We’re beating ourselves. We’re not doing the simple things. This team has a ton of talent, and I think we’re still trying to find our identity,” O’Donnell said. “This coming weekend, we’ve got to do the simple things, make the outs when we’re given them, throw strikes and take advantage of opportunities to score.”

Following two tough series against the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Santa Clara, respectively, NU hopes to turn it around during its four-game matchup against Cincinnati (3-3, 0-0 AAC).

Fresh off a comeback walk-off win against Ohio State, Cincinnati is the last of three consecutive weekend road trips to begin the season for the Cats.

Despite falling in three out of four games in its previous series, NU saw some important steps of progress for many younger players on the roster, according to O’Donnell.

“In the Santa Clara series, there were some good things to come out of it,” said O’Donnell. “Seeing the young guys like Alex Roessner and (Andrew) Pinkston, those guys killed it, along with Sean Sullivan. You see that young talent, and it’s exciting to see that build.”

In the Santa Clara series, Roessner notched a pinch-hit single while Pinkston went 3-for-3 with a double on Sunday.

Sullivan, who has been the team’s most impressive player thus far, put up six scoreless innings, struck out nine and allowed only five hits in the Cats’ first victory this season, a 10-0 shutout on Saturday.

Shortly after his performance, Sullivan was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. With two collegiate starts under his belt, the left-hander ranks third in ERA (1.00) and is tied for sixth in strikeouts (15) in the Big Ten.

NU will also look for continued success from players like O’Donnell and sophomore infielder Vincent Bianchina to lift the team toward victory.

In the Santa Clara series, O’Donnell hit .500 and notched three RBIs, including a 4-for-5 performance in the sole victory. Bianchina also showed out during Saturday’s win, knocking in three runs on two hits, including a triple and a stolen base.

With the disappointing start to the season, the Cats hope to turn the young season around sooner rather than later.

“In this long season, it’s not too much of a panic, but there is a sense of urgency to get back to playing baseball how we know we can play it,” said O’Donnell.

Email: [email protected]

Related Stories:

Baseball: Northwestern secures first win of the season in losing series to Santa Clara

Baseball: Winless Northwestern looks to rebound in four-game series against Santa Clara

Baseball: Northwestern goes winless in four-game season opening series versus UAB