Northwestern (11-20, 2-4 B1G) partook in a three-game series with No. 21 Minnesota (24-10, 5-1 B1G) in Evanston over the weekend, dropping two of the three games.
Minnesota opened the series by rolling the ’Cats 16-0 on Friday, out-hitting NU 10-2 en route to the victory. The game was called after five innings due to the run-rule. For the Gophers, Sarah Groenewegen earned her 17th win of the season, striking out six over four shutout innings. Groenewegen also contributed two hits and four runs batted in on the other side of the plate. Northwestern trailed 4-0 entering their half of the first inning due to two Minnesota two-run home runs in the top half. Sabrina Rabin and Krista Williams led the game off for NU with back-to-back singles, which would prove to be Northwestern’s only hits of the game.
The two sides engaged in a doubleheader the following day, with each team earning a victory. Groenewegen again started for Minnesota in the first game and earned another victory, although she was not quite as lights-out in this contest as in the previous. Groenewegen allowed four runs and four hits over 5 ⅔ innings. Northwestern cut what was a four-run first inning deficit to just one and hung around long enough for the game to go a full seven innings, but eventually fell to the Gophers 8-4. Third baseman Morgan Nelson chipped in two hits and three runs batted in in the loss.
The ’Cats, though, were able to salvage the final game of the series early Sunday afternoon with a 10-2 victory. Similar to the first game, this contest saw the run-rule enacted after five innings, except this time it was the hosts on the favorable side. Northwestern chased Minnesota starter Nikki Anderson after only 1 ⅓ innings, tagging her for five hits and five runs before her early exit. The Wildcats scored three runs in each of the first three innings and took a 9-2 lead into their half of the fifth inning. A Fran Strub solo home run put the Wildcats up eight runs, leading to the game being called early.
Strub and Nelson each had lucrative series despite the team dropping two of the three games. Strub went 4-for-6 with a .750 OBP for the series, while Nelson went 5-for-8, slugged two home runs and knocked in five runs over the weekend.
The three games marked the fifth, sixth and seventh consecutive games that NU has faced a top-25 ranked team, going 2-5 in said contests. The series also marked the beginning of Northwestern’s home schedule for the season.
Sharon J. Drysdale Field, home of the Wildcats, will play host again this weekend as the Iowa Hawkeyes (9-21, 1-6 B1G) will trot into Evanston Friday for a three-game series.