NUmbers Guy: Huskers sweep ‘Cats in extra inning thriller
While Northwestern Softball was swept over the weekend by the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the third game of their three game set was an 11-inning marathon that featured 7 different pitchers, 20 runs and 25 hits. The ‘Cats fell, 11-9, in 11 innings, but the 4 hour and 32 minute game was certainly a thriller. So in this week’s NUmbers Guy, Ari Ross takes a look at the NUmbers behind the ‘Cats and Huskers Sunday game.
The biggest number of the game for the Wildcats might be 4, the numbers of errors the ‘Cats defense had on Sunday. They were critical errors, coming with runners on base, as 3 of the 11 runs the ‘Cats gave up were unearned. One of the ‘Cats’ errors came in the top of the sixth, when Fran Stub bobbled a single, allowing Alicia Simmons to score. But the final error of the game hurt the most for the ‘Cats, as Morgan Nelson’s throwing error on a throw from third to first, allowed two runs to score in the top of the 11th, giving Nebraska the lead for good. One of the worst fielding teams in the Big Ten, the ‘Cats 55 errors and the fourth most in the Big Ten.
It was a game of momentum and runs for both sides, as the ‘Cats started things off with three runs in the first and two in the second to take a 5-0 lead. But the Cornhuskers came storming back, scoring nine runs over the course of four innings, culminating with five runs in the top of the sixth. Northwestern then went on another run of their own, scoring three in the bottom of the sixth and tieing it in the bottom of the seventh, before Nebraska won it in the top of the 11th.
There were a number of missed opportunities for both sides, but none stand out more than when in the bottom of the ninth inning, Northwestern had the bases loaded and just one out against Cassie McClure but couldn’t move a run across the plate as Sabrina Rabin lined into a double play. Further in the tenth, the ‘Cats had runners at second and third with two outs, but were again unable to score. On the game, the Wildcats left 13 runners on base, which while less than Nebraska’s total, certainly hurts, as they had numerous chances to walk this one off.
Nebraska’s ace, Cassie McClure is an absolute workhorse, as she threw 117 pitches and picked up the win on Sunday, after throwing 99 pitches in the Huskers win on Friday. McClure may not have had the best control at times on Sunday, pitching 6.1 innings, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits while walking five and striking out two, but to throw over 200 pitches in a weekend is absolutely insane. Over the entire weekend, McClure pitched 13.1 innings, giving up 8 runs on 14 hits, striking out 8 and walking 7, picking up two wins for the Huskers.
The Wildcats feasted on the longball Sunday as Northwestern hit four dingers and scored 7 of their 9 runs off home runs. Amy Letourneau, Brooke Marquez and Morgan Nelson all homered for the ‘Cats as Northwestern was able to use it’s power to build it’s lead in the first and second and come back in the fourth and fifth. All-in-all there were six home runs hit at Sharon J. Drysdale Field on Sunday as Kiki Stokes added a pair of solo shots. Behind Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska, the ‘Cats are one of the better power-hitting teams in the Big Ten, and their lineup packs a fearsome punch, especially come Big Ten play.
Amy Letourneau had herself a day. After launching a three-run bomb in the bottom of the first inning, she added a sacrifice fly in the second and a solo shot in the sixth to give herself 5 RBIs on the day. Letourneau finished the afternoon 3 of 4 with 2 runs, a walk and 5 RBIs. But not only did Letourneau impress at the plate, she was also impressive in the circle, coming into the game in relief in the sixth and limiting the damage and then holding Nebraska scoreless till the 11th. Letourneau threw 113 pitches on the afternoon after throwing 125 on Friday, but was still able to go 5.2 innings, allowing just three hits and two unearned runs, while striking out three and walking four.