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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Cats Corner: Catching up with baseball and softball

Daily reporters Audrey Pachuta and Anna Watson discuss the highs and lows of Northwestern’s baseball and softball seasons.

AUDREY PACHUTA: On Sunday, our softball team became the Big Ten regular season conference champions. We recorded this conversation several days before that big win.

From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Audrey Pachuta.

ANNA WATSON: And I’m Anna Watson.

Welcome to a new episode of Cats Corner, a podcast about all things sports and purple pride. This week, Audrey and I will be talking about Northwestern’s diamond sports and what’s to come for the squads in the future.

AUDREY PACHUTA: Anna, can you just tell me a little bit what you’ve seen from this Northwestern baseball team so far this season?

ANNA WATSON: Yeah, it’s been a difficult season so far. Northwestern did start off with the new head coach, actually a first-time head coach, Ben Greenspan. But Northwestern is bottom of the Big Ten currently. They have surpassed their win total from last year. They won their first game in the first game of the season. It took them a little longer to do that last season. But Northwestern only has one Big Ten series win this season, and their only Big Ten wins come from that series. So it’s been tough sledding for Northwestern so far.

AUDREY PACHUTA: And looking back at last weekend, what did you see in Northwestern’s matchup against Purdue at Wrigley Field and then the rest of that series?

ANNA WATSON: I think just overall, Northwestern has had a pitching problem all this season and we saw that really manifest this weekend. They let up nine, 10 and 11 runs. They even threw some of their best arms and they still gave up a lot of runs. Also, something that we saw is Northwestern doesn’t have a lot of depth in the bottom of their order. Purdue was getting hits, you know, all throughout their order through this weekend. They’ve had guys who have shown they can hit throughout the season and Northwestern just didn’t have that in the bottom half of their order this week.

AUDREY PACHUTA: So seeing as it’s been a difficult season, has there been anyone who’s stood out, making a positive impact for this team?

ANNA WATSON: I’d probably have to say Bennett Markinson. Last, you know, last season, Northwestern lost three of their best hitters, and Markinson was that fourth guy, and he’s really stepped up. His batting average has improved from that last season. He leads the team with batting average. He had three hits against Purdue. He’s been really consistent for Northwestern on defense and on offense.

AUDREY PACHUTA: And taking all this into consideration, do we have any shot at making the Big Ten tournament?

ANNA WATSON: The way it looks, I personally wouldn’t say so. So eight teams will make the Big Ten tournament and Northwestern’s currently, like I said, at the bottom of the Big Ten right now and they are five wins off of the last team in right now, which is Michigan State. Left to play in their Big Ten slate is Ohio State and Minnesota. Northwestern has really struggled to make tenth place. Michigan is towards the bottom half. That’s someone that they definitely have a chance against. But, again, Northwestern has played some of those teams in that bottom half and haven’t gotten those wins. So I think it will prove very difficult for them to make that push considering, you know, Michigan State is probably gonna win some games, and Northwestern hasn’t been really winning those games. So it, it’s gonna be tricky.

AUDREY PACHUTA: What do you think a key to success would be?

ANNA WATSON: Pitching, definitely. As long as Northwestern can find some consistency pitching-wise, you know, that would be great. They have had some guys come on like Matt McClure, who’s really provided some consistency on that front, and the bats just have to come alive. When you allow that many runs and you don’t score that many runs, you need to make up for it somewhere, and I’d say it’s on offense.

AUDREY PACHUTA: I say we switch gears and talk about Northwestern’s more successful diamond sport, which is softball, which I am very excited to talk about.

ANNA WATSON: Yeah. Yeah. So tell me. How’s it been going for them?

AUDREY PACHUTA: Really, the complete opposite of baseball. I mean, this season has really been electric for softball so far this year. We’re at the top of the Big Ten right now. This team definitely has a lot of momentum going into their last series of the regular season.

ANNA WATSON: Yeah, so this team graduated five seniors last season. How have they handled that transition?

AUDREY PACHUTA: That was definitely a big conversation before the season. What is this team gonna do without these big stars they’ve had for the last couple of years, people like Jordyn Rudd and Skyler Shellmyer and, of course, Danielle Williams, who has been an absolute stud on the mound for Northwestern these past four or five years? But I think that the transition has actually gone really well. We have three freshmen in our starting lineup — Emma Raye, Ainsley Muno and Izzy Cunnea. They started off the season a little bit slower, but I think they’re really finding their groove now. Emma Raye really has a lot of power in her swing, has a couple of big homers so far this year, and I think the biggest thing with Izzy and Ainsley is they’re super clutch hitters. When the moment comes — two outs, runners on — like, they are able to deliver when they have to, and I think that’s been a huge thing so far this year. And then, I think, on the defensive side of things, the pitching side of things, all four of our pitchers that we have in our semblance of a starting rotation — Ashley Miller and Renae Cunningham and Riley Grudzielanek and Cami Henry — they all were not on this team last year. So Ashley Miller and Cami Henry are both graduate transfers, and then Riley and Renee are both freshmen. So I think having an entirely new pitching rotation, and, obviously, Ashley Miller, she’s, she’s won Big Ten Pitcher of the Week four times this season, which ties Danielle Williams, our former ace, in her 2022, her first All-American season. So I think you could not ask for a better transition in that aspect.

ANNA WATSON: What have been the biggest keys to success for them this season?

AUDREY PACHUTA: Our top three hitters, we have Kansas Robinson, Kelsey Nader and then Angela Zedak. And so Kansas and Kelsey are both sophomores — they’re actually roommates — and they are just the epitome of consistency, delivering two, three hits a game apiece. Timely hits. Kansas is leading the team in RBIs and home runs. She’s batting over .400, which is ridiculous at this point in the season. Angela and Kelsey both batting over .300. So I think that just knowing that when you turn that lineup over, you’re gonna have hits strung along in a row is, it’s just a huge thing for this team.

ANNA WATSON: What’s coming up next for Northwestern?

AUDREY PACHUTA: Going for another postseason run, regionals, super regionals. Hopefully, a return to the Women’s College World Series. Last season, they lost in the super regionals to Alabama, in the third game of that series, so hopefully getting back to that point.

AUDREY PACHUTA: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Audrey Pachuta. Thanks for listening to another episode of Cats Corner. This episode was reported and produced by me and Anna Watson. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Carlotta Angiolillo, the digital managing editors are Sonya Dymova and Micah Sandy, and the editor in chief is Jacob Wendler. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this.


Email: [email protected]
X: @AudreyPachuta

Email: [email protected]
X: @adub_sports

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