It doesn’t seem to matter the location or opponent. Danielle Williams keeps dealing. Led by its freshman ace once again, Northwestern (29-7, 9-0 B1G) swept Nebraska (13-22, 4-5) in a three-game series this weekend in Lincoln.
Williams (19-3) posted two (!!) complete-game shutouts, bringing her season total to ten. The freshman has now gone the distance without allowing a run in each of her last four starts. Her ridiculous consistency almost allows for her dominance to go unnoticed, but let’s not forget that she is putting up the best numbers from the circle that Northwestern has seen in a while.
Williams’ ERA is a sparkling 1.07, and in Big Ten play it’s all the way down to an unthinkable 0.18. To put that in further perspective, Williams is giving up an earned run roughly once every five games in Big Ten play.
It took a few innings for the Northwestern bats to wake up and match their hurler in game one, but they took over when the game was scoreless in the fourth inning. Williams, who can do it all, garnered a sac fly to open the scoring. It was over from there. Freshman Rachel Lewis cracked her team-leading 10th home run to begin the fifth inning, and the Wildcats tacked on three more in the frame. Three more insurance runs in the seventh gave Northwestern an 8-0 victory.
Nikki Cuchran, Lily Novak and Jordan Rudd led the team with two hits each. Novak added 3 RBI and a run, Rudd knocked in one and scored twice, and Cuchran crossed the plate once.
Saturday was Kenna Wilkey’s turn to throw a complete game, and the sophomore used her strikeout stuff to battle through a couple of jams (including loading the bases with nobody out before striking out the side in the fifth) and allow just two runs in the process.
Cuchran stayed hot, smashing a grand slam in the third inning to give the ‘Cats a lead they would not relinquish. The freshman sports a team-high .350 batting average.
Wilkey gave up runs in the fourth and seventh innings, but by the the final frame Rachel Lewis had smacked her squad-leading 11th home run and Northwestern finished things off with ease.
Game three was low scoring but, once again, never really in doubt. Skyler Shellmeyer got the scoring going in the second by driving in Jordan Rudd on a two-out single. That was all the Wildcats would need. Williams allowed just one hit, handcuffing the hapless Husker offense repeatedly.
Lily Novak drove in two RBI as well, bringing her season total to 18.
Don’t look now, but the ‘Cats are on fire. They have won seven straight and 12 of their last 13 games. While Nebraska is not the best litmus test for this team, the Wildcats are winning the games they should win and haven’t yet slipped up in conference action.
Northwestern has a chance to reach win no. 30 on the season Tuesday when it hosts Notre Dame. The Wildcats then travel south to take on UIC Wednesday before taking on No. 25 Wisconsin at home for a three-game series this weekend.