Northwestern (26-26, 15-8 Big Ten) will head to Athens, Georgia to face Oklahoma State (29-24, 6-11 Big 12) in NCAA Regionals this Friday, as the team attempts to earn a berth to the Women’s College World Series. On the other half of the Athens Regional bracket, No. 16 Georgia (who NU lost a close game to in March) will face Maine.
The Cats finished .500 on the season after losing in the Big Ten semifinals to Minnesota this weekend.
Northwestern (26-26) dropped a tough one against No. 2 seeded (and No. 23 ranked) Minnesota (40-12) by a score of 8-4. After going 15-8 in conference play, the Cats were unable to stop the Golden Gophers’ powerful offense, as Minnesota scored at least one run in the first five innings.
NU kept it close through the first few innings, as the Cats and Golden Gophers went back and forth scoring runs. In the end, a two-run homer from Minnesota’s Sam Macken in the fifth would put the nail in the coffin. NU was led at the plate by sophomore centerfielder Sabrina Rabin with two RBIs and senior rightfielder Fran Strub, who scored two runs.
On the mound, senior Kristen Wood pitched one frame and fellow senior Amy Letourneau pitched the rest. The two combined for seven strikeouts, but gave up eight runs and 13 hits.
The Cats’ NCAA Tournament hopes are now in the hands of the selection committee, who will announce their choices tomorrow at 9 p.m.
The Wildcats (26-25) beat Ohio State (33-18-1) in thrilling fashion on Friday, bringing in a tight 3-1 win after scoring three runs in the first frame. Although the Cats would not score any additional runs throughout the matchup, it was team’s defense that led the charge, guaranteeing that NU will finish with at least a .500 record to maintain eligibility for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.
A fly-out from senior shortstop Andrea Filler in the first helped the Cats strike first, followed two batters later by a groundout from sophomore catcher Sammy Nettling for another RBI. Sophomore second baseman Brooke Marquez then smashed a double into centerfield to put the Cats up 3-0.
The Buckeyes’ Cammi Prantl would score OSU’s lone run in the fourth inning, but NU’s Kristen Wood and Amy Letourneau kept OSU’s batters at-bay for the rest of the matchup. Wood and Letourneau pitched more than three innings each, with only one run and five hits off both aces combined, and Letourneau earned the win in the 7th frame.
NU will advance to face the winner between Minnesota and Illinois in the semifinals.
Northwestern seniors Andrea Filler and Amy Letourneau were named to the all-Big Ten first team, the conference announced Wednesday.
Filler, who was named to her second consecutive all-conference first team, has been a staple at shortstop for the Cats since transferring from Boston College in 2013. She hit .327 and led NU with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs this season.
Letourneau, meanwhile, has excelled both in the circle and at the plate. She has a 13-10 record and 3.03 ERA in 21 starts. Her 155 innings pitched are more than double her closest competitor. At the plate, the 2013 all-Big Ten first-team honoree hit .341 with 14 home runs and added 56 RBIs.
Also, freshman third baseman Morgan Nelson and sophomore centerfielder Sabrina Rabin were named to the second team. Nelson hit .320 with 41 RBIs, and Rabin hit a team-leading .341 while serving as the team’s leadoff hitter.
Letourneau was also named to the all-defensive team, and senior infielder Aubrie May was NU’s sportsmanship award honoree.
The Cats begin Big Ten Tournament play Friday in State College, Pennsylvania.
Before Sunday’s series finale between Northwestern and Michigan State, junior offensive lineman Ian Park and junior wide receiver Austin Carr sang the national anthem as part of softball’s Senior Day festivities. The two were a part of the “Hype Squad”, comprised of Wildcat athletes, that cheers on the softball team in the right field bleachers. NU went on to win the game 10-4 and swept Michigan State.
Here are some other pictures of the Hype Squad at Sunday’s game:
On Friday, senior Amy Letourneau joined the esteemed “Roof Club” against Michigan State. Her 3-run home run landed on the roof of McGaw Hall beyond the left field fence and was the 10th Northwestern bomb ever to reach the roof. Letourneau became the seventh Wildcat in school history to hit a roof shot and first since Olivia Duehr last season.
NU won the game 8-0 in five innings, run-ruling the Spartans.