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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: Bottom of the lineup shines against Ohio State

Daily file photo by Seeger Gray
Northwestern celebrates at the plate after a home run.

After struggling to find its rhythm at the plate early on this season, the bottom of Northwestern’s lineup became a lethal weapon in its three game series at Ohio State this past weekend. 

Before the Wildcats’ weekend stint in the Buckeye State, junior outfielder Ayana Lindsey and freshman infielder Ainsley Muno — coach Kate Drohan’s eighth and ninth hitters — both sported batting averages below .200 for the season. The pair combined for just 16 hits in 89 at-bats, marking the lowest averages among starters.

In an explosive weekend at the plate, the duo amassed 11 hits, many of which prolonged innings in two-out scenarios.

Muno and Lindsey each recorded three hits in the series’ opening game Friday, placing them among the five NU players with multi-hit performances.

Batting back-to-back in the ’Cats lineup, the duo capitalized on each other’s momentum, consistently delivering consecutive hits. In both the fourth and fifth inning of Friday’s game, they each singled with two outs to sustain the team’s offensive push and help put two NU runs on the board.

10 out of the 15 hits by Drohan’s squad in the series opener occurred with two outs, highlighting their adeptness in situational hitting.

In the seventh inning, Muno’s single sparked the ’Cats’ most significant rally of the game, during which they scored five runs on five hits, cycled through the lineup and secured a commanding 10-0 victory.

In Saturday’s 9-7 win, the bottom portion of NU’s lineup continued to produce.

For the second straight game, Muno tallied three hits in four at-bats, including a double and a solo home run.

Although Lindsey did not register a hit in Saturday’s matchup, she legged out a throw after a fielding error in the second inning, allowing Muno to advance into scoring position for sophomore infielder Kansas Robinson at the plate.

By the fifth inning the ’Cats had mounted a seven run lead, holding the Buckeyes scoreless for the first 12 innings played in the series. The substantial lead provided opportunities for players who are not part of the usual starting lineup to come off the bench and serve as pinch hitters.

In her first collegiate at-bat, freshman pitcher Renae Cunningham cleared the centerfield fence and Muno followed suit, delivering back-to-back home runs that proved to be essential in securing the win in the bottom of the inning.

Despite NU’s lofty lead, the Buckeyes nearly mounted the comeback. The hosts scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh before Cunningham re-entered the game in the circle and recorded the save.

Although the ’Cats were unable to score in their last game of the weekend, Lindsey contributed two of the team’s six hits during the loss, highlighted by a fifth inning triple.

Following the conclusion to what had been an 11-game win streak, NU will return home to host Michigan at the “J” next weekend. The Wolverines are undefeated in conference play thus far and are coming off series sweeps of both Purdue and Indiana.

For the ’Cats to extend their 30-game winning streak at home that dates back to the 2022 season, they’ll look to the bottom of their lineup to maintain the hitting consistency seen in this weekend’s series in Columbus, Ohio.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyPachuta

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