WNUR’s Ben Goren (@BenG412) takes a look back at this weekend’s sweep of Indiana for the Northwestern softball team and what it may mean for the team moving forward.
After a week that saw a loss to Iowa and two losses to Minnesota, Northwestern needed to regain some momentum. The schedule was soft, with one game against Loyola and a weekend series against bottom-dweller Indiana and the Wildcats responded.
It all started with Marisa Bast, who not only joined the Roof Club by smacking a shot on top McGaw Hall, but had 5 RBI’s in Northwestern’s 4 games. She was later named the Big Ten Softball Co-Player of the Week.
Emily Allard continued her torrid pace, setting the table for the power hitters behind her, and eight-hitter Paige Tonz stepped up in a big way, collecting two RBI’s on Sunday including the walk-off single. Northwestern scored 23 runs in 4 games and showed why they’re second in the conference in batting average. This team can put up numbers in a hurry and they showed how.
It’s hard to describe Kristen Wood’s performances this week without using hyperbole. The sophomore hurled a no-hitter against Loyola (with 12 strikeouts), struck out another 12 in a two-hit effort on Friday, got the day off Saturday, then went the distance Sunday and only allowed 2 earned runs en route to a 3-0 record.
Freshman Nicole Bond had a clean outing Saturday, improving to 4-0 on the year by going seven innings while striking out nine, walking four, and giving up four hits. It was exactly what the Wildcats needed: a firmly adequate performance for the pitcher who was supposed to be third in the Wildcat rotation this year. If the Cats give up four runs a week from here on in, it’s hard to imagine them losing too many games.
On Northwestern’s fixture list for the next week are a double-header against state rival Illinois Tuesday followed by a weekend series against Ohio State. Both opponents sit behind Northwestern in the Big Ten standings, as Illinois occupies the cellar and Ohio State lies in seventh, one spot behind the Wildcats.
The Wildcats are only a half game behind fifth place Wisconsin and two games behind second place Nebraska and Purdue. A good showing from the ‘Cats this week could see them begin to climb up the B1G ladder. Northwestern was blessed by the gods of scheduling to have been given such a cushy run in and now is time to capitalize on it. Going 4-1 or even 5-0 would be huge as we countdown to the Big Ten Tournament May 8-10 at Drysdale Field.