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Previewing Northwestern softball’s pitchers

How will the ‘Cats fill a Danielle Williams-sized hole in their rotation?

Syndication: The Oklahoman BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

Expectations for the ‘Cats are higher than ever, but they’ve lost Danielle Williams, the best pitcher in program history. NU dipped into the transfer portal this offseason, but most innings will belong to returning players. Without further ado, let’s take a look at who will star in the circle for the ‘Cats in 2024.

You can read more about the Wildcats’ three first-year pitchers — Renae Cunningham, Riley Grudzielanek and Signe Dohse — in Inside NU’s softball newcomers preview.

Ashley Miller, graduate student (via Michigan State)

After losing all-time wins leader Danielle Williams, the ‘Cats went out and got another innings-eater. Miller led the Spartans last year with 129 punchouts in 114.1 innings, hurling eight complete games in 16 starts. She finished 2023 with a 4.22 ERA, but that isn’t indicative of her ability — the grad student boasted an ERA under 2.00 in each of her first two seasons at Michigan State. She will have to return to her 2021-22 form if the ‘Cats want to compete for another Big Ten title.

Lauren Boyd, senior

Boyd has only improved in each of her three years with the ‘Cats, posting a career-low 2.24 ERA as a junior. She shouldered a much larger role in 2023 and made 18 starts, including five of at least six innings. Boyd’s best outing came in April at Iowa, when she pitched a complete-game shutout and surrendered just three hits. She may not have gaudy strikeout numbers (93 in 103 innings last year), but Boyd will be a workhorse as the ‘Cats cope without Williams.

Cami Henry, graduate student

Henry was a Swiss Army knife for Kate Drohan last season, oscillating between starts and relief appearances after transferring from DePauw. She pitched four complete games and finished with a 3.45 ERA and a 10-2 record. In her four seasons as a Tiger, Henry struck out 709 batters in 536.1 innings and was selected to the Division III All-American team twice. Assuming that Henry builds upon her solid debut season as a Wildcat, NU should continue to lean on her versatile skillset.

Lauren Curry, junior

Undoubtedly the biggest wild card in NU’s rotation, Curry made just four appearances in her first two seasons. She finished with an ERA of 27.00 in 2023 after giving up five earned runs in 1.2 innings. However, her rough sophomore season doesn’t reflect the raw talent Curry brings to the circle. She comes from a family of athletes — her father is former Red Sox pitcher Steve Curry — and her lengthy frame packs a punch. The ‘Cats would love if Curry could eat up relief innings as conference play becomes a war of attrition.