NUmbers Guy: Northwestern Softball heads to the NCAA Tournament
With their win in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals against Ohio State on Friday, Northwestern Softball assured themselves of a .500 or better record, keeping them eligible for the NCAA Tournament. And on Sunday Night, the ‘Cats heard their name called as they’ll travel to Athens, Georgia as the No. 3 seed in the Georgia regional to take on No. 2 seeded Oklahoma State. So let’s take a look at the NUmbers behind Northwestern Softball as the ‘Cats head to the NCAA Tournament.
Earlier in the season, especially while Kristen Wood was out, Northwestern had some struggles on the mound, especially as Big Ten play began. Through six games in Big Ten play, the ‘Cats had an 11.64 ERA in conference and stood five games under .500. But the rotation bounced back, finishing the season with a 3.91 ERA and a 4.97 ERA in conference. They may not have the best rotation in college softball, but Wood and Amy Letourneau are a powerful 1-2 punch atop the ‘Cats’ staff.
Amy Letourneau is incredible. Not only did she play in 51 of the ‘Cats’ 52 games, starting in 50 of them, but she also pitched 164.2 innings out of the circle, more than double any other Wildcats pitcher. With Wood out for stretches of play, Letourneau became the ‘Cats’ workhorse, going 14-10 with a 3.02 ERA in 39 appearances (21 starts). But not only did Letourneau show her prowess on in the circle, she was also one of the Wildcats’ best hitters, batting .329/.456/.657.
Northwestern’s offense might not be one of the best in the NCAA, but they do have one of the best players in the NCAA on the basepaths. Sophomore Sabrina Rabin led the Big Ten in steals, stealing 39 of her 43 attempts, and ranked No. 11 in the NCAA in stolen bases per game. Rabin averages 0.75 SPG, almost a steal per game, as she’s often able to get on base and move into scoring position so the rest of the lineup can knock her in. It’s been a sound strategy so far this season, as Rabin leads Northwestern with 53 runs scored. If the ‘Cats need a run in the tournament, Rabin can certainly help them out on the basepaths.
One area of concern through the season for Northwestern has been its fielding. The ‘Cats have committed 65 errors on the season, three more than their opponents. These errors have led to 58 unearned runs for Wildcat pitchers, which in turn has cost the ‘Cats a few games this season. With a .957 fielding percentage, the ‘Cats still have been decent in the field, but a they’ll have to cut down on their errors, especially the costly ones with runners on base, if they want to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
11 of 13
With just 13 games left in the season, the ‘Cats sat at 7-games under .500, needing to get to the .500 mark to become eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern would need to win at least 11 of their next 13 games to finish the season .500, having to face a number of tough opponents over that stretch including Wisconsin and Michigan State. But the ‘Cats had it in them and the finished the season .500, including a sweep of Purdue where a loss would have assured them of a below .500 record. And including the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern has won 12 of their last 14, so they head into the NCAA Tournament with a lot of momentum.