Softball blasted by NU

By Frank Gogola

Softball surrendered a season-high 13 runs and couldn’t handle Kristen Wood, Northwestern’s sophomore starting pitcher, in a Wednesday loss.

The Huskies (10-13) fell to the Northwestern Wildcats (18-6), 13-2, in five innings Wednesday at the Ballpark at Rosemont.

“I think the field definitely played with sharper angles,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “It played very different than what we were used to. But they had 13 runs, and you can’t take that away from them.”

The NIU pitching staff of junior Jessica Sturm, freshman Skylar Weinstein and freshman Rebecca Rupard gave up a combined 13 runs, 10 earned, on six walks and 12 hits, including two doubles, three triples and two home runs.

“They definitely outhit us and had some long balls that made the score unreachable,” Sutcliffe said. “Their pitcher did a good job of keeping us guessing, shutting down our offense, and that’s something I wasn’t expecting.”

Wood picked up in the win for the Wildcats, striking out 11 Huskies while surrendering two runs, one unearned, on six hits and one walk.

“Her changeup was working today, which it didn’t in the past,” Sutcliffe said. “She was able to throw at two different heights, again, which she hasn’t been able to do against us. She’s improved since last year.”

Northwestern got its scoring started early, jumping on NIU for two unearned runs in the top of the first. The Huskies cut the deficit in half, 2-1, with an unearned run on an RBI single from senior shortstop Shelby Miller, but the Wildcats began their offensive takeover.

Northwestern senior catcher Paige Tonz hit a grand slam to put the Wildcats up 6-1 in the top of the second. Weinstein replaced Sturm, who gave up six runs, four earned, on five hits in one-plus innings.

Freshman second baseman Kali Kossakowski got one run back for NIU in the bottom of the second with an RBI single following a one-out triple from junior right fielder Bryanna Phelan. The Huskies had runners on first and second with one out but couldn’t push across any more runs that inning. They stranded a total of six runners on the afternoon.

The Wildcats chased Weinstein after she gave up a three-run home run from sophomore first baseman Andrea Filler in the top of the third. Rupard took over in the circle and was tagged for two runs on a two-run single from Tonz.

Northwestern tacked on two runs in the top of the fifth. Rupard surrendered four runs, three earned, on five hits and three walks in three innings.

“I think their hitters were zoned in and hitting pitches where they were pitched,” Sutcliffe said. “When they got a good one, they hit it. There’s a reason they’re such a good team. We didn’t play as well as we set out to today.”

The Huskies open conference play with four home games over the weekend. They will play the Toledo Rockets (8-18) twice and the Bowling Green Falcons (9-14-1) twice.