Softball: Northwestern sweeps Penn State, sets franchise record for most runs scored in one game


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior infielder Hannah Cady cheers as sophomore infielder Grace Nieto runs to home plate. Both players were a crucial part of NU’s wins against the Nittany Lions, driving in three runs total this weekend.

Kunjal Bastola, Reporter

No. 23 Northwestern (24-9, 9-1 Big Ten) picked up its second sweep of the season this weekend, wiping out Penn State (20-11, 2-7 Big Ten) in a three-game series at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, further proving its dominance at home.

The first game of the series Friday was highlighted by a sixth-inning offensive rally.

Graduate student pitcher Danielle Williams dominated in the circle, securing 11 strikeouts over seven innings. Last year’s unanimous Big Ten Pitcher of The Year, Williams has been a rock for the Cats’ rotation this season. She has already started four games with more than 10 strikeouts this season.

The Cats’ offense started off strong in the first inning with three runs. However, NU cooled off for the next four frames, going scoreless but giving up only one run to Penn State. Entering the sixth inning, NU led 3-1.

The Cats turned the bats on in the sixth inning to extend their lead and bring home the win. NU’s second-to-last inning was topped off by home runs from both senior utility Angela Zedak and sophomore infielder Ayana Lindsey. Graduate student infielder Maeve Nelson also had a stand out performance Friday, going two-for-four with an RBI-double. The Cats’ offensive show propelled its lead to 9-4, with six of the nine runs scored in the sixth inning.

NU continued to dominate on Saturday, setting a franchise record for runs scored. Leading 11-0 by the bottom of the second inning, the Cats went on to score 24 runs total while allowing just six runs to the Nittany Lions — leading to a five-inning run rule.

Junior infielder Hannah Cady was the first to score for the Cats in the second inning, courtesy of an RBI from Zedak. NU’s offense didn’t stop there, however, as they scored 10 runs the following inning and three in the fourth.

Zedak, Cady, freshman outfielder Kelsey Nader, graduate student infielder Nikki Cuchran and sophomore infielder/center Lauren Sciborski all scored three runs each. Graduate student outfielder Skyler Shellmyer had three hits, and behind Nader, drove in the second most runners with three.

The Cats topped off the series in epic fashion Sunday with graduate student catcher Jordyn Rudd’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning lifting the Cats to a 5-2 win.

The game was scoreless the first three innings until Nader secured a hit in the bottom of the fourth, allowing freshman infielder Bridget Donahey to score.

Down 2-1 entering the seventh, the Cats disrupted their offensive struggles with Rudd homering to left field with the bases loaded, scoring herself, Shellmyer, sophomore infielder Grace Nieto and freshman infielder Kansas Robinson, giving NU a three-game sweep.

Each player contributed to the Cats’ prolific play this past weekend — proving just how well-rounded head Coach Kate Drohan’s squad is. In total, 14 different players scored runs this weekend, contributing to NU’s astonishing offensive performance. With the Women’s College World Series just under two months away, the rest of the season looks like an exciting one for NU if they continue playing at this level.

The Cats will take on Illinois on Wednesday before another Big Ten series matchup against Wisconsin (20-10, 7-2 Big Ten) in Madison, Wisconsin this weekend. Wisconsin — currently ranked third in the Big Ten — could present a challenge for NU, but the Cats should be able to pull off another series sweep.

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Twitter: @kunjal_bastola

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