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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Softball: Northwestern looks to new faces after unforgettable 2023 campaign

Daily file photo by Mary Randolph
Northwestern softball is losing its veteran core this season, giving younger players the opportunity to rise into larger roles.

The Northwestern softball team that will take the diamond at Sharon J. Drysdale Field this spring will look different.

NU is coming off of an unforgettable season, which featured an undefeated record at home and the Cats’ first Big Ten Tournament championship since 2008. Coach Kate Drohan’s squad fell just short of a return to the Women’s College World Series, losing to Alabama in a tight three-game super regional. 

With five key veteran leaders graduating, NU’s path to Big Ten dominance in 2024 will be rockier.

It’s hard to imagine the Cats without graduate student pitcher Danielle Williams. The four-time First Team All Big-Ten pitcher was NU’s go-to starter and threw 866 innings during her career in Evanston.

This season, Drohan will likely look to senior Lauren Boyd and Michigan State transfer Ashley Miller to fill Williams’ shoes in the rotation. Boyd’s 1.67 ERA in conference play was third best in the Big Ten. Miller, a graduate student, posted a 1.81 ERA for Michigan State in 2022, also the third best in the Big Ten.

NU is losing key players in the field and at the plate, as well. Catcher Jordyn Rudd, outfielder Skyler Shellmyer, first baseman Nikki Cuchran and shortstop Maeve Nelson all graduated. 

But NU benefitted from freshman firepower from infielder Kansas Robinson and outfielder Kelsey Nader, who will both see bigger roles in their sophomore seasons. Junior Grace Nieto and senior Hannah Cady will round out the infield. Cady started every game in 2023 en route to Second Team All-Big Ten honors.

Drohan is also adding eight freshmen, who could provide the Cats much-needed depth at each position. 

NU’s Big Ten competition remains strong, and the loss of so many veterans gives the Cats a challenging road to back-to-back Big Ten Tournament titles, let alone a trip to Oklahoma City. But with a rising young core, NU has a chance to do the unexpected.

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Twitter: @saullpink

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