Softball Series Preview: Northwestern at Iowa

The Northwestern Wildcats (25-19, 12-7 B1G) head to Iowa City this weekend to face the Iowa Hawkeyes (16-37, 7-13 B1G) in the team’s final regular season conference series.

The Wildcats are coming off a nice six-game homestand, winning four of those games. Northwestern and Illinois split their doubleheader last Wednesday, and the ‘Cats then took two of three from Ohio State this past weekend. On Wednesday, the team put up nine runs in the fourth inning en route to a 12-1 victory over the DePaul Blue Demon in just five innings.

Though Northwestern struggled through mid-April, falling to ranked teams such as Minnesota and Notre Dame, they’ve been solid since. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, are currently on a four-game losing streak, their fifth losing streak of at least four games this season.

Big Ten Player of the Week Andrea Filler will continue to pace the Wildcat offense. The junior infielder hit .643, slugged 1.214 and had 12 RBIs in the team’s games last week against Illinois and Ohio State. In Wednesday’s game against DePaul, Filler went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

Kristen Wood (14-8) continues to stifle opposing hitters. She’s averaging about 11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, and is currently on a three-game winning streak. Against DePaul, Wood gave up just two hits and struck out eight in a run-rule-shortened game.

Iowa does have one of the Big Ten’s best hitters, and certainly one of the best in program history. Senior infielder Megan Blank owns a .448 batting average this season, which is 11 points higher than the school record she set in 2013. Her .411 career average also stands as the school’s all-time record.

To go along with Blank, the Hawkeyes have one of the Big Ten’s most durable arms. Redshirt sophomore Shayla Starkenburg leads the conference in innings pitched (211.0) and is second in games started (33). However, she is just 7-6 in the Big Ten.

Game 1’s first pitch is at 6 p.m. CT on Friday. Catch the game on BTN Plus on BTN2GO.

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