Softball: No. 10 Northwestern takes one win, one loss from Illinois doubleheader


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Senior first baseman Nikki Cuchran swings at a pitch. Cuchran opened the scoring in the first game against Illinois.

Nathan Ansell, Senior Staffer


No. 10 Northwestern looked like two different teams at various points on Wednesday.

Led by coach Kate Drohan, the Wildcats (31-7, 12-2 Big Ten) won the first game of their doubleheader at Illinois (27-15, 10-3 Big Ten), but the Fighting Illini responded with a run-rule victory in the closing showdown. NU still holds on to the best overall record in the Big Ten.

Senior pitcher Danielle Williams tossed a gem in the opener, striking out 12 and allowing just two hits in a complete game performance. Williams was supported by senior first baseman Nikki Cuchran’s sacrifice fly and sophomore third baseman Hannah Cady’s two-run double in the fourth inning. Graduate right fielder Rachel Lewis, the reigning National Player of the Week for D1 Softball, stole two bases in the game.

The result earned Williams her 19th win of the season and improved her ERA to 1.33. She leads the conference in both categories.

Illinois bounced back in the next game, opening with an offensive explosion. The Fighting Illini scored in each of the first three innings, including six runs in the second, as pitcher Sydney Sickels held the Cats to just four hits. It was NU’s first time on the wrong end of a shutout this season, and its first mercy rule loss since 2019.

The Cats now face a road series against Indiana (23-14, 6-6 Big Ten), who hasn’t beat NU in nearly a decade. A Drohan-led squad, however, isn’t the type of team to take any opponent lightly.

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