NUmbers Guy: Northwestern Lacrosse, Softball move closer to NCAA berths
With their tournament hopes on the line, both Northwestern Lacrosse and Softball pulled out much needed wins this weekend, moving ever so closer to an NCAA Tournament berth. Under .500 and looking at the possibility of missing the tournament for the first time since 2003, Northwestern Lacrosse came away with a 22-13 victory at No. 19 Ohio State. On the diamond, Northwestern Softball took 2 of 3 from Wisconsin, moving closer to .500 and a potential College World Series berth. So let’s take a look at the NUmbers behind Northwestern Softball and Lacrosse’s weekend wins.
Turnovers have been a problem all season for the Wildcats, but on Friday against the Buckeyes, the Wildcats had a positive turnover margin of +8. The ‘Cats turned the ball over just 13 times, and forced Ohio State into 22 turnovers, which led to a significant advantage on the other end for Northwestern in terms of shots and shots on goal.
Eight was an especially important NUmber for the Wildcats, not only because it represented their turnover differential, but also because it was the number of goals Selena Lasota scored as she put the team on her back. Lasota’s 8 goals against the Buckeyes, were a career high for her, as she scored four in the second half, en route to the ‘Cats building their lead. Lasota’s disappeared at times this season as teams have keyed on her more often, but with 41 goals on the season, tied for the team lead, she’s still made, and continues to make, a huge impact. At the end of the day, Northwestern might go as far as Selena Lasota can take them.
Northwestern’s had a bit of trouble stopping swings of momentum in it’s losses these season, as opponents will put a few goals together and build up a big lead, forcing Northwestern to have to comeback. But against Ohio State on Friday, the ‘Cats had two big runs of their own in the second half. With the score tied at 11, the ‘Cats went on a 6-0 run, and after a quick Buckeye goal, went on another 4-0 run, not letting OSU get any momentum as the Wildcats cruised in the second half to a 22-13 victory.
Amy Letourneau is really just killing it for the ‘Cats this season. Over the weekend against the Badgers, Letourneau pitched two complete games, earning victories in both. Her line for the weekend? 14.0 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 14 Ks and 6 BB, not to mention she also had a pretty good weekend at the plate as well, hitting .400 with 2 RBIs, a BB and a run scored. Letourneau has been incredible this season for the ‘Cats, leading NU with a .352 average while going 11-9 with a 3.20 ERA in the circle.
What’s been the ‘Cats downfall all season though, has been poor defensive play in the field as Northwestern Softball has committed 61 errors on the season, which ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten. And against Wisconsin, the Wildcats committed three errors over the course of the weekend, including two costly ones in Saturday’s loss. Three of the four runs the Badgers scored on Saturday were unearned, resulting from throwing errors by the ‘Cats. If Northwestern wants to have any shot at making or forward in the College World Series, cutting down on their errors is a must.
Even as the ‘Cats are under .500, sitting at 22-24 (12-8 B1G), Northwestern still has a decent shot at making the NCAA Women’s College World Series. With 64 teams making it to the regionals, the ‘Cats stand at No. 46 in the RPI, in part due to their incredibly tough non-conference schedule. Northwestern’s just one of two teams, along with Mississippi State, that rank in the RPI Top 50 even though they have a losing record. And while Northwestern still needs to get to that .500 mark to have a realistic shot, their RPI certainly gives them a fighting chance if they get there.