‘Cats open up NCAA Tournament against Oklahoma State Friday

After splitting a doubleheader with Minnesota on April 3 and falling to 11-21 on the season, Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament chances seemed quite bleak.

But the ‘Cats railed off 15 wins in their next 20 games, a run that helped to punch an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

On Friday afternoon in Athens, Georgia, Northwestern will take on Oklahoma State with a chance to launch a postseason run.

The ‘Cats are led by All-Big Ten First Team members Andrea Filler and Amy Letourneau. The two fifth-year seniors, referred to as the “grandmas” of the team, combined for 44 percent of Northwestern’s 251 RBIs this season.

Senior Kristen Wood will likely start game one in Athens for Northwestern. Wood, who missed exactly a month of the season from late March to late April because of emergency surgery, ranks fourth  in the Big Ten with a 2.12 ERA.

She will face a potent Cowgirl offense that ranks third in the offensive-minded Big 12 with a .305 batting average. The Cowgirls also rank second in the conference with 298 RBIs.

 Oklahoma State is led by co-Big 12 Player of the Year Vanessa Shippy. Shippy’s mind-boggling .430 average was tops in the Big 12.

The Cowgirls’ team-wide home run power is headlined by Tiffany Mikkelson. Oklahoma State’s starting right fielder is tied for the team lead with 10 home runs and is the all-time career long ball leader in Stillwater.

While the Cowgirls can certainly hit, pitching has been a struggle for first year coach Kenny Gujewski’s squad. Oklahoma State’s best pitcher, ERA-wise, is Kacy Freeze. Freeze has a 4.34 ERA on the year but has given up more than a hit per inning pitched.Northwestern is making its 11th  NCAA Tournament appearance in 15 years under the Drohan sisters.

 Oklahoma State is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011, when it went all the way to the Women’s College World Series.

 WNUR Sports will have coverage of all of Northwestern’s games in the Athens regional, including game one against Oklahoma State Friday.

First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. central and can be heard over the airwaves of 89.3 FM in Evanston-Chicago or online at WNURSports.com.

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