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

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

The Daily Northwestern

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Softball: Northwestern sweeps Michigan State in opening conference series

Daily file photo by Jorge Melendez
In a dominant offensive performance this weekend, Northwestern outscored the Spartans 20-4 over three games.

In its first conference series since last year’s undefeated home slate, Northwestern continued to defend its home turf with a convincing series sweep over Michigan State this weekend.

Behind standout performances from graduate transfer pitcher Ashley Miller, sophomore infielder Kansas Robinson and sophomore outfielder Kelsey Nader, the Wildcats (17-7, 3-0 Big Ten) never trailed in their three matchups against the Spartans.

With first-pitch delayed by one day due to inclement weather, coach Kate Drohan’s squad kicked off its weekend with Miller — a two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Week this season — taking the circle against her former team. 

In the series opener, Miller propelled the ’Cats to a dominant 5-1 win, allowing only four batters to reach base during the game.

Sporting a coveted sub-one ERA in 30.2 innings pitched, the Leo, Indiana, native has solidified herself as NU’s top starter in the season’s early onset.

Tasked with the challenge of facing off against her former coaches and teammates, Miller said it was an emotional weekend. 

“I just had to remind myself to stay calm and really just trust my teammates, because I know they always have my back,” Miller said. 

In her two starts this weekend, Miller secured complete-game victories, conceding just one run across 14 innings and striking out 19 batters.

At the plate, Nader and Robinson spearheaded NU’s offensive success this weekend.

Following their All-Big Ten freshman accolades last year, the sophomore duo has flourished early on this season, seamlessly stepping into top-of-the-lineup positions.

“I think both me and Kelsey both have a lot of confidence at the plate,” Robinson said. “So, stepping into this role has been a really nice and smooth transition.”

Against Michigan State this weekend, the pair tallied 11 hits, 12 RBIs and six homers — including back-to-back dingers to lead off the second game of the series.

Robinson reached base 10 times in 11 at-bats and plated a run with a sacrifice fly in her remaining opportunity.

Amid a perfect 6-for-6 performance at bat, Robinson delivered four extra base hits and fell a triple short of the cycle in the team’s 11-3 run-rule victory to kick off Sunday’s doubleheader.

Nader dominated in the series opener, driving in four of the team’s five RBIs and recording the only multi-hit game among the players.

Prior to this weekend, Nader had only hit two career home runs, but she more than doubled that figure with three bombs against Michigan State.

During Sunday’s final game, NU blanked the Spartans 4-0, with three of its four runs coming in a prolific three-home run third inning.

In the top of the third, the Spartans opened with consecutive hits, putting pressure on the ’Cats in the scoreless game.

Miller struck out consecutive batters, and graduate student utility player Angela Zedak gunned out a runner at the plate from left field, igniting momentum for NU’s lineup as they returned to bat.

Robinson led off the inning with a solo shot before sophomore infielder Bridget Donahey sent one over the center field fence and senior infielder Hannah Cady hit the side of Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Three of four batters went yard to give Drohan’s squad a substantial lead that was sustained over the game’s remaining four innings.

Following a successful opening week at the “J”, NU will look to carry its winning momentum as it travels to Ohio State later this week.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyPachuta

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