Melissa Haniff

Softball: Wildcats will face Oklahoma State in Athens Regional

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.

Wildcats softball falls to Minnesota in Big Ten semifinals

Wildcats softball falls to Minnesota in Big Ten semifinals
(Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson)

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.

Northwestern softball advances to Big Tens semifinals

Northwestern softball advances to Big Tens semifinals
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

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.