Softball Game Preview: Northwestern vs. UIC
Coming off a three-game sweep of the Purdue Boilermakers, the Wildcats host the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames in a midweek matchup of Chicago-area teams.
The Flames begin the week at 13-14, 4-2 in the Horizon League and 5-3 away from Flames Field. Last season when UIC came to Evanston, Northwestern, behind a record-breaking first inning, pummeled UIC, 14-7. Last year, Northwestern, after falling behind 2-0, scored 12 runs in the bottom of the first as Bridget Boyle didn’t even get an out in the first.
Boyle is back for the Flames, as is sophomore hurler Elaine Heflin. Freshman Karissa Frazier rounds out UIC’s rotation. This season Boyle is 4-4 in 16 appearances, 10 starts, with a 3.31 ERA and 36 strikeouts, Heflin is 4-8 in 17 appearances, 12 starts, with a 3.11 ERA and 49 strikeouts and Frazier is 4-2 in 8 games, 5 starts, with a 1.77 ERA and 31 strikeouts. The Flames give up an average of 4 runs per 7 inning game.
Senior Eleni Polites and freshman Tiana Mack-Miller lead the Flames’ offense, hitting ..385/.373/.462 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and .341/.398/.518 respectively. Mack-Miller leads the Flames in hits, doubles and RBIs. As a team though, the Flames are hitting just .277/.339/.368 and average 3.67 runs per 7 inning game.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, the ‘Cats stand at 20-11, 8-0 in the Big Ten and 5-0 at home. Offensively Northwestern is hitting .319/.471/.544, led by senior Andrea DiPrima and junior Andrea Filler who are both hitting above .400. On the mound, juniors Kristen Wood and Amy Letourneau have combined to throw all 201.1 innings for the ‘Cats. Wood is 93 in 25 appearances (18 starts), with a 3.31 ERA and 155 Ks, while Letourneau is 11-8 in 22 appearances (13 starts), with a 4.60 ERA and 86 Ks. Opponents are batting just .234 against the ‘Cats, averaging 4.19 runs per 7 inning game.
If Northwestern’s offense can get going against Boyle and the Flames, as they did last season, an improved UIC team shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the ‘Cats, who sit alone atop the Big Ten.
Tune in Wednesday at 4:00 pm on the WNUR Sports UStream as the ‘Cats take on the UIC Flames. Ari Ross and David Gernon will be on the call at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.