By Eric Rynston-Lobel
Editor’s note: Each week, WNUR Sports recaps the news and results from the in-season, non-revenue teams that we cover in order to help our listeners and readers stay connected to the pulse of Northwestern athletics.
- 4/2 – vs. Chicago State – W 11-6
- 4/3 – @ UIC – L 4-2
- 4/4 – @ Ohio State – W 13-5
- 4/5 – @ Ohio State – W 7-2
- 4/6 – @ Ohio State – W 7-4
The ‘Cats brought out their brooms on Sunday, and it wasn’t for Spring cleaning.
After splitting their midweek games with Chicago State and UIC, Northwestern showed up to Columbus, Ohio eager to prove its recent success was no fluke. It left Ohio State having done just that.
Scoring a combined 30 runs across the three-game series, Northwestern improved to 4-2 in Big Ten play in 2019 with a thorough demolition of the Buckeyes. Since losing two of three to Purdue, the Wildcats have won eight of their last nine contests.
The first game against Ohio State featured a gutsy performance on the mound from sophomore lefty Quinn Lavelle. Despite allowing five runs through his first four innings, Lavelle settled down and ended up completing seven innings, allowing his offense to climb back into the game.
Though it took some time, the ‘Cats offense finally woke up in the seventh inning. Trailing 5-3, NU scored 10 runs across the final three innings, six of which came in the ninth to put the game away.
In that ninth inning, senior Willie Bourbon chipped in with an RBI double, the third of his three hits Friday evening, while sophomore Casey O’Laughlin put an exclamation point on the offensive outburst with a grand slam.
On Saturday, the Buckeyes struck first again. This time in the first inning when first-year starting pitcher Mike Doherty struggled to find the strike zone. Though he only allowed one run, head coach Spencer Allen pulled the righty after just two innings in what looked like was going to be a long day for the ‘Cats’ bullpen.
Instead, sophomore Ryan Bader turned in his finest appearance of the season. In five-plus innings, the lefty allowed only one run on four hits, and gave Allen a huge lift by preventing the bullpen from being overworked.
Bader’s performance was also key because like in game one, the strong pitching allowed the offense to take control of the game. Junior Alex Erro lead the way with three hits, and Shawn Goosenberg and Michael Trautwein drove in two runs apiece, helping NU win the game 7-2.
With the chance to sweep Ohio State for the first time ever on Sunday, the ‘Cats came out of the gates a bit lethargic, and it seemed as though that feat would not be accomplished this weekend. However, once again the bats came alive in the latter stages of the game. Trailing 3-1 heading to the seventh, the ‘Cats scored four runs in that inning and five in the eighth to take a commanding 10-1 lead.
On the mound, Josh Levy picked up the win in relief after tossing 2.1 hitless innings walking one and striking out two, as he helped his team make a little history on Sunday afternoon after sweeping the Buckeyes.
However, it’s only April, and the ‘Cats want to make more than just a “little history” in 2019.
- 4/3 – vs. Loyola Chicago – W 5-1
- 4/5 – @ Nebraska – W 8-0
- 4/6 – @ Nebraska – W 8-2
- 4/7 – @ Nebraska – W 4-0
Like baseball, softball also swept its series this weekend against Nebraska. At 29-7 on the season and a perfect 9-0 in the Big Ten, the ‘Cats made another major statement this weekend outscoring the Cornhuskers 20-2 in the three games.
In game one, first-year Danielle Williams stole the show with her arm and her bat. In addition to throwing a complete-game three-hit shutout in which she struck out 10 improving her record to 18-3 on the season, Williams also hit her first collegiate home run.
In addition to Williams, Rachel Lewis, Maeve Nelson and Lauren Caldrone also hit home runs helping Northwestern secure the 8-0 victory.
On Saturday, Lewis homered again while sophomore pitcher Kenna Wilkey picked up two hits in addition to tossing a complete game. On 114 pitches, Wilkey allowed two runs on five hits and struck out seven.
In the final game, Williams pitched even better than she did on Friday. In another complete-game shutout, she allowed one hit and a walk while striking out a dozen Nebraska hitters and improving her record to 19-3 on the year. She also helped herself with an RBI, as the ‘Cats left Lincoln with a 4-0 win and the series sweep.
4/6 – @ Johns Hopkins – W 20-13
While baseball and softball played five and four games respectively this week, Northwestern Women’s Lacrosse played only once, and unsurprisingly, they won too.
Against No. 17 Johns Hopkins, the ‘Cats struggled to find their footing in the first half, as the Blue Jays held them to just five goals. After the break, though, NU was able to triple their first half output finding the back of the net 15 times compared to John Hopkins’ seven.
Senior Claire Quinn lead NU’s scoring with five goals and first-year Izzy Scane contributed four. Redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Julie Krupnick made eight saves, as the ‘Cats won their fifth straight.
Up next will be a tough matchup against No. 2 Maryland on Thursday here in Evanston.
Women’s National Invitational Tournament:
- Semifinals 4/3 – @ James Madison – W 74-69
- Finals 4/6 – @ Arizona – L 56-42
Unfortunately for Northwestern, the success on the diamond and on the lacrosse field did not carry over to the basketball court. Playing for its first postseason championship in history, women’s basketball’s unbelievable run came to a disappointing conclusion in Tucson on Saturday.
First, they defeated the James Madison Dukes on Wednesday behind sophomore Lindsey Pulliam’s 16 points and another double-double from senior Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. The ‘Cats held off a late surge to punch their ticket to that championship game.
On Saturday, though, the offense just couldn’t find its rhythm. From the start, Arizona’s defense stifled the ‘Cats, holding them to their second-lowest point total this season. Shooting 26.5 percent from the field and being out-rebounded 45-32 made it very difficult for Northwestern to claw back into a game that it trailed in from the start.
In front of a record crowd of 14,644 at the McHale Center, the Arizona Wildcats fed off of that energy and shutdown the ‘Cats. That included Kunaiyi-Akpanah, who was held to four points in her final game wearing a Northwestern uniform.
NU concludes a wild 2018-19 campaign at 21-15, the third 20-win season under head coach Joe McKeown. Although Kunaiyi-Akpanah will surely be missed next season, Pulliam, Abi Scheid, Jordan Hamilton and Veronica Burton will be back and ready to take this program to an even higher level.