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 defeats Illinois 4-1 at home

Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Freshman catcher Emma Raye loads up for a pitch. Raye went 2-for-2 with a double and a home run against Illinois Tuesday.

Following its decisive run-rule win in Champaign last week, Northwestern hosted Illinois at the “J” for another midweek clash Tuesday.

Unlike last week’s matchup, when the Wildcats (27-8, 13-1 Big Ten) dominated from the onset and controlled the game, Tuesday’s game remained scoreless through three innings, with solid defense setting the tone early on. NU ultimately secured a 4-1 victory over the Fighting Illini (16-25, 3-10 Big Ten).

Graduate student pitcher Ashley Miller started in the circle for the ’Cats after earning her third Big Ten Pitcher of the Week title on Monday. Miller boasts a 1.24 ERA with 143 strikeouts this season.

After both teams failed to reach base during the first inning, Illinois outfielder Stevie Meade singled in the second frame, but she was unable to score after freshman catcher Emma Raye threw her out stealing second. Sophomore outfielder Kelsey Nader then made a diving play in right field on the next pitch to end the inning.

Struggling to produce in the first two innings, the Fighting Illini turned to a small ball strategy in the third, with consecutive batters unsuccessfully attempting bunts to try to reach base.

The visitors led off the fourth inning with consecutive singles, but both runners were caught stealing at second by Raye’s powerful arm, halting their chances of breaking the stalemate.

After thwarting her third base runner of the day, the freshman catcher carried that momentum to the batter’s box, plating NU’s first run with an RBI double down the left field line, which sophomore infielder Bridget Donahey followed with a homer into the right field bleachers.

Illinois answered with a pair of singles in the fifth inning, nearly scoring on a hard-hit ball down the line that was called foul before Miller struck out the batter.

Junior outfielder Ayana Lindsey reached on a bunt single to turn over the lineup in the subsequent frame, but the ’Cats were unable to build upon their lead with sophomore infielder Kansas Robinson and Nader each hitting into outs to end the inning.

Robinson’s hitless 0-for-3 performance at the plate Tuesday ended her 34-game on-base streak, which tied with former NU utility player Morgan Nelson for the fourth-longest in program history and fifth-longest in Big Ten history.

After Miller concluded the top of the sixth with back-to-back strikeouts, Raye extended the lead to four with a home run off the side of Welsh-Ryan Arena in the bottom of the inning. She finished the day contributing two of the team’s four RBIs and throwing out three runners on the basepaths behind the dish.

As thunderstorms rolled in and the weather deteriorated in the final inning, coach Kate Drohan’s squad’s defense faltered.

Illinois scored its first run of the day off a Donahey error, compounded by graduate student outfielder Angela Zedak’s errant attempt to oust the runner heading to third.

Although the errors broke the shutout, NU sealed the game with Miller registering three strikeouts to close the inning — marking her third double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

After clinching their 37th consecutive win at home and their 19th victory in their last 20 games, the ’Cats will take their eight-game winning streak to West Lafayette, Indiana, for a three-game weekend series against Purdue.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyPachuta

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