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ROUNDTABLE: Wildcats to Watch this spring season

Yes, the weather should finally start getting warmer.

No matter how freezing it is in Evanston this time of year, warmer days and new sports seasons are just around the corner. That’s right, it’s time for some spring sports!

Some teams have already started their 2022 campaigns, while others eagerly wait their opening match. Here’s one athlete we each think you should keep your eye out for in the coming months.

Daniel Olinger: Lauren Gilbert, Lacrosse

The season-ending injury Izzy Scane sustained prior to the team’s 2022 campaign even getting off the ground has seemingly put a damper on the usually much-anticipated Northwestern lacrosse season. However, even without one of the best scorers in the sport’s history, the ‘Cats are still loaded with both talent and experience, and the runway should be cleared for Gilbert to put up massive numbers. The fifth-year was second on the team last year in goals with 66 (sitting behind only Scane) and was selected for First Team All-Big Ten honors for her efforts. She’s already had two season with 50-plus goals recorded, expect a third for Gilbert in 2022.

Mac Stone: Anthony Calarco, Baseball

It’s time to face reality. Shawn Goosenberg is gone. He was the Wildcats’ best hitter last season by a long shot, and his bat disappearing from the lineup will surely hurt the ‘Cats this year. Enter Anthony Calarco, who was a First Team All-Big Ten member last season after finishing with a line of .295/.417/.621 along with 13 doubles and nine home runs. He’s got some serious pop in his bat and plays some solid defense over at first base to complement it. Watch for Calarco to have a big senior season.

Ben Chasen: Rachel Lewis, Softball

Apologies to several other members of NU’s softball squad, including fellow former All-Big Ten First Team selections Danielle Williams, Skyler Shellmyer and Jordyn Rudd, but Lewis is my Wildcat to Watch this spring because of her complete composition as a player. She’s remarkably swift on the base path, can rake with the best of ‘em, and is an elite fielder to boot. Even in a program as strong as NU’s, Lewis is a unique talent, and it’s going to be a joy to watch her final go as a ‘Cat all season long.

Bradley Locker: Mike Doherty, Baseball

Northwestern appears to be on the outskirts of contending for the Big Ten title on the diamond yet again, but look for Doherty to light it up at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park in Evanston. The 6-foot-3 righty led NU in ERA, innings pitched and WHIP in 2021 while posting a 32-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Maybe his most impressive feat was surrendering just three home runs in 63.1 IP, tying him atop the Big Ten for fewest dingers given up among those tossing 50+ innings. Although fellow staff member Ben Grable has been drawing the eye of MLB scouts, Doherty is positioned to be the Wildcats’ ace and hold down the fort this season.

Jake Mozarsky: David Nyfjall and Varun Chopra, Men’s Golf

In the fall, the two seniors led Northwestern with six combined finishes of T-14 or better. Nyfjall was able to secure a victory earlier in the month against Iowa even though the team lost, and he will need to find some more victories as Northwestern’s spring season goes on. Chopra, an Illinois transfer, will also need to find some victories in his respective matches. He was also able to win his match on February 4 against Iowa, and the graduate senior paired with Nyfjall will be the key to a successful spring season for the ‘Cats. If they perform well, expect Northwestern to kill it at the invitationals this spring.

Jacob Brown: Danielle Williams, Softball

She is the best pitcher in college softball. Appreciate greatness when it’s staring you in the face.

Sarah Effress: Leah Holmes, Lacrosse

Leah Holmes has already opened her 2022 campaign with a bang, and the best part is she’s only a sophomore. The attacker notched five goals and four assists in Monday’s matchup against Marquette, where she proved she fits right in as a starter for Kelly Amonte-Hiller’s offense. With Izzy Scane’s absence due to injury, Holmes’ role in the goal-scoring category will become increasingly important, and she is evidently prepared for the job.

Sarah Meadow: Erin Coykendall, Lacrosse

With a career-highfive5 goals against Marquette, Coykendall has tons of untapped potential that she’ll be sure to unleash this season in the absence of Izzy Scane. Keep an eye out for the junior’s behind-the-back goals and assists this season, as she’s one to watch.

Gavin Dorsey: Jordyn Rudd, Softball

The First Team All-Big Ten catcher is poised for another huge season. She’s already off to a hot start, earning nine RBIs in the opening weekend of play.