Softball: No. 8 Northwestern dominates UIC 21-2 in run-rule victory, the second-most runs scored in program history

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter


Coach Kate Drohan said Northwestern is focused on not letting a moment feel too big, but the Wildcats’ latest victory was pretty monumental.

NU (35-7, 15-2 Big Ten) took down crosstown rival Illinois-Chicago (10-27, 7-12 Horizon League) on Tuesday by a score of 21-2 — in just five innings. The run-rule victory marks the second most runs scored in a single game in program history, falling just one short of the 2016 record.

The Cats came out swinging in the first inning, scoring ten runs in what felt like an offensive masterclass. While the team’s usual standouts provided their fair share of hits and RBIs, the highlight of the inning was freshman infielder Ayana Lindsey’s first career home run — a grand slam to cap off a string of successful at bats.

Although Lindsey said the reality of her major milestone had yet to set in, senior infielder Nikki Cuchran was all smiles for her teammate’s impressive accomplishment.

“It’s awesome,” Cuchran said. “Especially knowing the feelings and seeing the younger girls grow and develop, it’s so cool.”

As the game progressed, the team’s ever-growing lead gave Drohan the opportunity to utilize players from her bench relatively early on. With the deep talent among NU’s reserve players, Drohan said she knew she could rely on their ability to make big plays when they did step into the game.

One such play was senior outfielder Lauren Caldrone’s three-run homer in the second inning, which extended the Cats’ lead to 15-0.

These key pinch hitters found ways to get on base throughout the rest of the game, stacking on runs as hits continued to fly into the outfield.

“(Our depth) strengthens our program on all levels,” Drohan said. “There’s just so much development happening. Everybody’s working so hard in practice right now to be ready to go, and it showed today.”

UIC’s two-run homer in the third inning put the Flames on the board, but failed to combat the momentum NU had been building all game long.

The Cats cemented their victory with five runs in the fourth inning. After a series of base hits from her teammates, Cuchran knocked a three-run blast out of the park and closed out NU’s scoring for the day.

The Cats’ defense also proved crucial in their win. They didn’t dominate for lack of UIC baserunners — the Flames stranded a total of seven players on base. NU pitchers and fielders worked themselves out of jams and got their team back to the plate.

Freshman pitcher Lauren Curry pitched a quick top of the fifth and wrapped up the Cats’ win, sending fans and players into celebration mode.

NU has three series left in the regular season before the squad sets their sights on a run in the postseason, starting with a weekend series in Evanston against Iowa.

“It’s just about getting better every day, not taking a moment for granted,” Drohan said. “It’s just being where we are right now and working to get a little bit better every day.”

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