From Feb. 8-10 the Northwestern softball team competed in the Titan Classic in Fullerton, California. In the span of three days the Wildcats took on five opponents, coming away with wins in four of the contests. The event opened the ’Cats’ 2019 season after an appearance in last year’s NCAA regional tournament.
Northwestern opened up the eight-team Classic with two dominant victories on Friday, but had tense games the rest of the way through.
The Wildcat pitching corps allowed just two hits in two games, winning against Utah State (1-4) 12-0 in five innings (run/mercy rule) and Pacific (2-3) 7-0. Sophomore Kenna Wilkey threw seven strikeouts in four innings against the Aggies. First-year Danielle Williams almost followed her up with a no-hitter, losing it after a heartbreaking Pacific double with two outs in the final inning. First-year Jordyn Rudd dominated the day with a total of eight runs batted in, two home runs and two doubles.
Northwestern and Louisville (3-2) battled through a scoreless match for the first six innings, until senior Lily Novak hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to bring junior Morgan Newport home. The 1-0 win wasn’t secured, however, until Williams survived a lead-off Cardinal triple and retired the next three batters. That same magic couldn’t save Williams in the next game, however, as the Wildcats lost to Loyola Marymount (4-0) 3-2 on two-out walk-off single. Williams was put on to the pitching mound to try and save the game after Wilkey and Newport gave up a combined 11 hits, with Newport giving up the two seventh-inning hits leading up to the Lions score.
It looked like the team was in danger of suffering two-straight losses after trailing Idaho State (2-3) by a run heading into the seventh inning, but much like on Saturday late-game drama prevailed. Williams and Rudd each batted in two runs to give the Wildcats a 7-4 lead, and Williams secured three Bengal strikeouts to send the team off on a high note. Senior pitcher Kaley Winegarner was pulled for Newport in the second inning, and Williams took over again in the fourth to give her a third win on the season.
The softball team will next play in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, where they’ll face Louisville again and North Carolina from Friday to Sunday.