Softball: No. 12 Northwestern can’t complete seventh inning comeback, falls to No. 5 Alabama in Super Regional


Daily file photo by Seeger Gray

Northwestern’s season drew to a close following game three of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional. The Wildcats fell short of returning to the Women’s College World Series.

Rachel Schlueter, Reporter

After a game one 3-1 victory in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional, No. 12 Northwestern was unable to pick up another win in its final two games against No. 5 Alabama, ending the team’s postseason run.

Throughout the three-game series, both the Wildcats (42-13, 20-3 Big Ten) and Crimson Tide (45-20, 14-10 SEC) were bolstered by stellar pitching performances from their respective starting duos. Ultimately, Alabama graduate pitcher Montana Fouts’ return to the circle following a May 11 injury proved to be the series’ difference maker.

In the top of the second inning of Friday’s opener, senior utility Angela Zedak revved up the Cats’ scoring by sending a solo shot over the center field wall.

In the top of the fourth, NU added to its lead with graduate catcher Jordyn Rudd’s RBI single. With that hit, Rudd became the second Cat ever to reach the 200 career RBI threshold. Later that inning, freshman outfielder Kelsey Nader drove a base hit up the middle to score Zedak, upping NU’s lead to three.

NU’s offensive rush forced Alabama to switch out their ace starting pitcher, graduate Montana Fouts, in the fourth. Fouts tossed 3.1 innings and registered three strikeouts, her lowest total in an outing this season.

Alabama then brought in junior pitcher Jaala Torrence, who wound up notching all three of the Tides’ wins in the Tuscaloosa regional. NU was not able to score off Torrence, but that was no issue for graduate pitcher Danielle Williams, who threw a complete game gem and struck out six batters while allowing just one run.

Though the Cats eyed a chance to return to Oklahoma City on Saturday, Alabama’s pitching shut down NU’s offense.

The Crimson Tide struck first in the top of the first inning courtesy of a sacrifice fly. NU had several chances to even the score, but couldn’t capitalize on having runners in scoring position. In the bottom of the third inning with bases loaded and two outs, Zedak struck out looking.

In the bottom of the fifth, however, the Cats broke through and tied the game at one through a Rudd RBI single.

But in the top half of the seventh inning, the Crimson Tide took a 2-1 lead on an RBI base hit. NU couldn’t bounce back with a run of its own, resulting in Williams’ first loss since April 2.

With a trip to the Women’s College World Series on the line, NU turned to its ace in Williams for Sunday’s series finale. However, Alabama was the first to get on the board, scoring first behind graduate catcher Ally Shipman’s 2-RBI single to left field.

In the top of the fourth, the Cats threatened the Crimson Tide with runners on first and second with one out. Nader took advantage and got the Cats on the board with an RBI single, bringing the score to 2-1. But in the bottom of the fifth, Alabama extended their lead to two via senior outfielder Jenna Johnson’s solo home run.

The Cats headed into the final inning down by two runs, but graduate infielder Maeve Nelson made one last rally cry, sending a solo shot over the left field wall. But NU couldn’t complete the comeback, silencing their WCWS hopes.

Although the Cats’ season didn’t end with a return to Oklahoma City, NU had a record-breaking campaign, which included an undefeated home season. With more than half of NU’s starting line-up returning next year, the future appears bright for the Cats.

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Twitter: @rschlueter26

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