Softball: No. 8 Northwestern sweeps Iowa, closes weekend with Senior Day shutout


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Northwestern softball cheers from the dugout. The Wildcats swept Iowa this weekend, including two shutouts, at their last home series of the regular season. The final game, Sunday’s 9-0 run-rule shoutout, came on Senior Day.

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter


On a weekend that saw grand slams, shutouts, stolen bases and everything in between, Northwestern honored its nine seniors in the best way it knows how: securing wins and having fun.

The No. 8 Wildcats (38-7, 18-2 Big Ten) swept the three game series against the Hawkeyes (19-29, 2-18) — including a run-rule win on Sunday’s Senior Day — with all-around standout performances across the team.

The series kicked off Friday afternoon with the tightest game of the weekend, one NU ultimately won 9-5. The matchup was neck-and-neck through the first several innings, but when the Cats came up to bat in the bottom of the fifth, tied 4-4, the momentum shifted in their favor from then on.

RBI singles from sophomore infielder Hannah Cady and freshman infielder Grace Nieto brought the score to 6-4 in the fifth while senior infielder Maeve Nelson drove in her own in the sixth.

Junior outfielder Angela Zedak then hammered an insurance two-run homer to left field,put the Cats up by five and ultimately provided enough breathing room to close out the win.

“We have a crazy well-balanced lineup,” Nelson said. “We can put so much faith in each other. The game of softball is all about confidence and trust, and our success is because of the amount of confidence and trust we have in each other.”

Saturday’s game was more one-sided, largely due to an extraordinary outing by junior pitcher Sydney Supple. Supple pitched the first complete-game shutout of her career, paving the way for NU’s 4-0 victory.

The Cats recorded seven hits in the matchup, two of which came from Cady, including a solo home run in the sixth inning.

Cady’s late-season surge has boosted NU’s numbers at the plate and given her teammates a sense of calm when they come up to bat. Nelson said when the girls surrounding her in the lineup, including Cady, have been performing so well recently, “why would I do too much?”

Sunday’s Senior Day was bittersweet for the team. It was the last regular season game for a historic senior class at Drysdale Field, but it also ended in a 9-0 shutout victory.

“Senior day is always emotional for all of us,” coach Kate Drohan said. “They’re all so different, and they all complement each other so well. It’s been such a fun year, and I feel so proud of them. Plus, I really like them. They’re fun to be around, and they work really hard.”

While senior pitcher Danielle Williams commanded the run-rule victory from the circle, her teammates’ explosive offense secured the win at the plate.

NU immediately loaded the bases to start the third inning. Senior catcher Jordyn Rudd and senior infielder Nikki Cuchran each racked up two RBIs and, after some crafty baserunning from her teammates, Cady came up to bat with the bases loaded once again.

Cady rocketed a grand slam to left field off the first pitch she saw. The homer capped off the Cats’ eight-run inning and sent enough electricity through the crowd to last the rest of the game.

NU will travel to DePaul for one game Tuesday afternoon before making its way to Minnesota next weekend, the last series of the regular season. The squad currently leads the Big Ten, a spot it can claim with one more win, and Nelson is confident it can secure it at Minnesota, if not sooner.

“We want to win a Big Ten championship. We’ve never done that before,” Nelson said. “Minnesota is always a really tough matchup for us. But we’re going in with the mindset that we are going to destroy them and get the Big Ten championship if it’s the last thing we do.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @mkeileen

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