Just as the warm weather seems to finally be kicking in at Evanston, Wildcats softball has chosen Madison, Wisconsin as its temporary spring home. Though the team wasn’t given a similarly warm welcome by the host Wisconsin Badgers, Northwestern will get its chance for redemption next weekend.
From Friday to Sunday, Northwestern (34-16, 14-8 Big Ten) lost two of three games (by scores of 1-7, 4-2, 3-4) to the Badgers (27-20, 11-9 Big Ten) in the final regular season series before the conference tournament. The losses came days after the ’Cats took down local rival DePaul (33-15), 7-3, on Wednesday.
Northwestern fell behind on the scoreboard versus the Blue Demons following a rain delay. However, the team eventually took control thanks to Morgan Nelson’s three-run homer in the fifth inning and a four-run complete batting rotation in the sixth. Morgan Newport and Kenna Wilkey combined to allow only six hits and one earned run.
After beating the eventual Big East regular season champs, Northwestern traveled to Wisconsin to meet the Badgers. The team was hard-pressed to get anything going offensively, scoring a total of just eight runs in all three games. Wisconsin’s Haley Hestekin played a crucial part in handing Northwestern their two losses, allowing just one run in each of her starts. For the Wildcats' Saturday win, Newport, a sophomore, came through in the clutch with a career-high nine strikeouts in a complete-game effort.
Overall, Northwestern finished a solid fourth in the conference and earned a bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. They will face off against the winner of Ohio State versus Iowa on Friday, May 11 at Madison. The Wildcats won each of their season series against the two teams, which should boost their confidence come Friday.