Covering the Bases: March 24
WNUR’s Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23) takes a look at how Northwestern baseball and softball are doing, with softball fresh off a three-game sweep of Penn State to open their Big Ten season and baseball starting conference play Friday at Minnesota.
First Base: Duehr Going Deep
Senior outfielder Olivia Duehr had struggled early in her 2015 campaign and was hitting .143 heading into the Penn State series. Against the Nittany Lions, she appeared to put her struggles behind her in a big way. Duehr went 5-for-10 on the weekend, crushing four homers and driving in seven. Her biggest blast was an eighth inning homer in the series finale which lifted Northwestern to a 5-4 extra-inning victory. Duehr wasn’t the only Wildcat to feast on Penn State pitching; the club hit 13 longballs during the three-game set. Andrea Filler, Andrea DiPrima, and Brianna LeBeau all went deep twice over the weekend, and freshman Sammy Nettling slugged her first career homer on Sunday.
Second Base: Wood is Good
Junior hurler Kristen Wood carried the load for the Wildcats this weekend, recording the win in all three games against Penn State to improve her record to 7-3. Wood spun a five-inning, one-hit shutout in the first game of the series, striking out 11 in the ‘Cats’ run-rule victory. She entered in relief in game two, and pitched four scoreless innings to earn the win, striking out seven and allowing only two hits as Northwestern won 13-5. Wood then threw a complete game in the series finale, pitching all eight innings and allowing three earned runs in NU’s 5-4 victory. For the weekend, Wood struck out 25 Lions in 17 innings; she’s fanned 109 batters in 81 innings this season.
Third Base: Keeping up with Jones
Junior first baseman Zach Jones tied a school record when he recorded seven hits in the Wildcats’ series-opening, 15-inning, 9-8 loss at UNLV. Despite reaching base seven times, Jones did not score in the game, although his ninth-inning double capped Northwestern’s rally from a 7-2 deficit to force extra innings. Jones finished the weekend 12-for-22 at the plate to raise his season average to .310. Senior Kyle Ruchim also had a nice weekend, collecting nine hits in 22 at-bats to raise his team-high average to .362. Ruchim drove in five runs on the weekend (including the go-ahead run in NU’s 13-12 win in game two) and clubbed his second homer of the season in NU’s 11-8 loss in game three. Outfielder Matt Hopfner hit his first homer of the season as part of a four-hit, four-RBI effort in game two and finished the series 8-for-20.
Home Plate: Hoscheit Turns Out the Light
Sophomore Joe Hoscheit made the Big-Ten All-Freshman team last season as an outfielder, but he came in handy on the mound this weekend against UNLV. Fresh off a 15-inning marathon the night before and wary of the second game of a doubleheader, Coach Paul Stevens summoned Hoscheit to preserve a 13-12 lead in the eighth inning of game two, and Hoscheit recorded his first save in his first appearance of the season, holding the Rebels to one hit over the game’s final two innings. Freshman infielder JR Reimer pitched the seventh inning to earn his first career win in game two, while junior Jake Stolley kept the Wildcats alive in game one, throwing 6 and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball. In 12 appearances out of the bullpen, Stolley has allowed only two earned runs for a team-low ERA of 0.83
Up next: Softball (14-10, 3-0 in the Big Ten) plays a New York doubleheader today against Hofstra and Fordham before playing their first home series this weekend against Wisconsin. Baseball (5-16) concludes a 10-game west coast swing in Northern California with games today and tomorrow against St. Mary’s before heading to Minnesota to open Big Ten play this weekend against the Gophers.