Northwestern Softball to play Purdue in Big Ten Tournament Second Round
After an upset in the Big Ten Tournament’s opening round, Northwestern Softball will play 12th seeded Purdue on Friday. The Wildcats avoid one of the better offensive teams in the conference in Illinois and catch a break following their first round bye.
Purdue dispatched fifth-seeded Illinois 3-2 Thursday afternoon on the strength of a go-ahead two run home run by Paris Andrew in the fifth inning. Katie Harrison also had an RBI while first baseman Ashley Burkhardt collected three hits for the Boilermakers.
The most impressive performance for Purdue, however, was from pitcher Lilly Fecho. After being named to the All-Big Ten Second Team this week, Fecho shut down the Illini by allowing only four hits while striking out five in seven innings of work. A two-run homer by Illinois’ Nicole Evans was the only blemish on the afternoon for Fecho, who leads Purdue pitching with a 1.98 earned run average.
With less than 24 hours between games for Purdue, the Boilermakers will likely have to find pitching elsewhere against Northwestern after Fecho worked seven innings and threw 112 pitches. The team’s pitching staff was relatively strong this season, ranking third in the Big Ten in team ERA with opponents holding a .213 batting average.
Another Boilermaker the ‘Cats should keep an eye on is Burkhardt, who has started and played in every game this season. She has an impressive .389 batting average and leads the team in hits, runs, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. Freshman Kaylah Hampton has also provided a spark for Purdue, hitting .274 with eight home runs.
The Wildcats, however, should be favored to beat Purdue. Northwestern boasts a potent offense that hit 60 home runs this season, scoring nearly seven runs a game. Purdue averaged about four runs per game this season.
Look for offensive leaders Andrea Filler and Andrea DiPrima to produce for the ‘Cats, along with 2015 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Sabrina Rabin, who leads the team with a .411 average.
Kristen Wood also looks to stay on track in the circle. A few rough outings pushed Wood’s ERA to 4.26, but she’s also thrown 17 complete games and struck out 212 batters on the year. She’ll try to shut down the Boilermakers on Friday afternoon.
First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. CDT from Buckeye Field, on the campus of Ohio State University.