In an early Thursday afternoon matchup, Northwestern softball lived to see another day in the Big Ten Tournament, defeating the Purdue Boilermakers 6-1.
Out of the gates, though, the ’Cats (25-28) found themselves on the brink. In the top of the first inning, Purdue’s (20-36) Mallory Baker smashed a two-out Kaley Winegarner delivery over the right field fence for the first score of the game.
Wasting no time, the ‘Cats bats responded with an abundance of hits all over the park. A Marissa Panko fielder’s choice in the bottom of the first brought home a speedy Sabrina Rabin to tie the game at 1. Two batters later, junior catcher Sammy Nettling emptied the bases with a triple into center field off Purdue’s Katie Johnson, scoring both Rabin and third baseman Morgan Nelson.
Still in the first inning, Anna Peterson kept the line moving with an RBI single to left field to bring in Nettling from third. Peterson’s single would also spell Purdue’s starting pitcher Katie Johnson after just 0.1 innings pitched.
To top off the first inning, NU’s RBI-leader Kenzie Ellis smacked a Kaitlynn Moody offering over the left field fence. The 6-1 cushion would prove to be more than enough support for Winegarner.
After the first inning home run, Winegarner (10-6) put together a stellar pitching performance in the circle, throwing a complete game with eight strikeouts. For the final six innings, Winegarner surrendered just one hit and three walks.
NU now looks to keep their offensive momentum going as they play No. 2 Minnesota in Minneapolis. For the season, the ’Cats are 0-3 against the Golden Gophers with just four total runs scored.