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Softball capitalizes on solid three-win weekend heading into Big Ten play

The ‘Cats picked up a trio of well-earned victories and got crucial momentum before next week’s conference schedule kicks off.

via NUSports.com

In its final weekend of non-conference play, Northwestern softball (11-12) put together a solid three-win weekend before it heads into Big Ten play. The ‘Cats traveled to Kentucky to play in the Louisville Invitational where they faced Louisville and Evansville once and Oakland twice.

Northwestern bookended its weekend with victories over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. The Wildcats’ first outing resulted in a 5-1 victory on Friday led by Kaley Winegarner in the circle. She moved to a perfect 4-0 record this season after allowing zero earned runs and just four hits in five innings.

Oakland kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the first, but NU quickly responded with a sac fly from Sydney Supple. The Wildcats soon extended their lead to 3-1 off a two-RBI base knock from Nikki Cuchran. In the top of the sixth, Jordyn Rudd added insurance with a two-run homer over the right field wall, solidifying the four-run win.

Danielle Williams pitched two scoreless innings in relief and allowed just one hit with four strikeouts.

On Saturday, the ‘Cats played two against Louisville and Evansville. They split the pair, falling to Louisville 3-1 and trouncing Evansville 9-1.

Williams got the start against Louisville and allowed five hits and three runs in six innings, adding nine strikeouts. NU struck first in the second with a solo home run from the pitcher herself, but Louisville took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out, two-run double.

NU bounced back against Evansville behind Kenna Wilkey, who allowed only one hit and one run in five innings of work with a season-high nine strikeouts. After Rachel Lewis got the ‘Cats on the board in the first, they plated seven runs in the second by way of four hits and three walks. The stellar inning was capped off by a two-out, bases-clearing triple from Rudd. The final blow came in the fifth in the form of a two-out single from Wilkey to bring home Emma Bartz, resulting in the run-rule victory.

To close out the trip, the ‘Cats dominated the Golden Grizzlies again, this time to the tune of 14-3 with 11 hits. Six of the hits went for extra bases (the most in a game this year). Nelson and Cuchran were both a perfect 2-for-2 at bat, with a double and triple from Cuchran and a single and grand slam from Nelson.

NU jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the of the second. Oakland responded with two runs, but Nelson punched back with a grand slam in the third to extend the lead to eight. Northwestern answered again with four more runs off of an RBI-double from Sydney Supple and a three-run homer from Emmie Farnam in her first career at-bat for another run-rule win.

Northwestern returns to action Friday, March 20 against Michigan State to begin Big Ten play and for its home opener. In light of yesterday’s news from the conference, the games will be played without any fans in attendance; only those deemed essential staff will be allowed on-site.