Softball: Northwestern wins series against Rutgers, named outright Big Ten regular season champions for second straight year


Daily file photo by Mary Randolph

Graduate pitcher Danielle Williams throws a pitch at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. Williams earned her one hundredth career win Sunday following Northwestern’s shutout over Rutgers.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

After scoring 40 runs in its final home series against Nebraska last weekend, Northwestern (35-11, 20-3 Big Ten) had to achieve one final regular season task before preparing for the Big Ten tournament. This weekend, the Wildcats headed to conclude its conquest against Rutgers (32-24, 9-14 Big Ten) in Piscataway, N.J.

NU continued its forward momentum during the series, taking two of three games against the Scarlet Knights. But, more importantly, the Cats were named outright Big Ten regular season champions on Friday for the second straight year following a nine-run victory over Rutgers.

Despite dropping one against Rutgers, multiple NU players had fruitful weekends in the batter’s box, including graduate student outfielder Skyler Shellmyer, freshman infielder Kansas Robinson and sophomore infielder Ayana Lindsey, who played left field. The trio shined at the plate in Friday’s opener.

Robinson jump started the Cats’ offense in the first inning, scoring off an RBI from graduate student Nikki Cuchran. The infielder’s success continued in the second with a home run over the right field fence — her first of three runs driven in during the contest. Lindsey padded NU’s offensive onslaught by scoring two runs of her own, contributing to a dominant 11-2 showing that concluded in six innings.

Shellmyer was also a thorn in Rutgers’ side Friday, scoring a run to top off a strong offensive performance against the Scarlet Knights.

Graduate pitcher Danielle Williams dominated in the circle Friday registering a one-hitter over five innings. Junior pitcher Lauren Boyd followed up Williams, allowing just two hits in one inning pitched on Friday.

Following up on a strong series opener, the Cats struggled to connect at the plate Saturday. NU scored just three runs in the second game of the series — a low for the squad since its 3-0 victory against Michigan on April 23. Even given the team’s low-energy presence at the plate, senior outfielder Angela Zedak provided a spark for the Cats with a homerun in the sixth inning and an RBI single in the seventh.

The outfielder’s offensive prowess carried over into Sunday’s game. In the top of the second inning, she launched her third home run of the weekend. While NU’s offense remained stagnant Sunday, scoring only two runs in the game, Zedak’s ability to consistently hit the long-ball was a promising sign of the squad’s offensive depth. Graduate student shortstop Maeve Nelson joined the fun as well, picking up where Zedak left off, homering to lift the Cats to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.

After the fourth, NU continued to hold the Scarlet Knights scoreless throughout the rest of the game, shutting them out and concluding their regular season play until the Big Ten Tournament.

The Cats success over Rutgers was due in-large part to Williams’ performance in the circle. Williams pitched seven innings Sunday giving up zero runs and six hits while allowing three walks. The southpaw also reached a career milestone Sunday, securing her one hundredth career win. Williams is now the seventh Big Ten softball pitcher to have achieved this accolade.

The Cats will be back in action later this week for the first game of the Big Ten conference tournament.

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