This weekend featured a dominant men’s tennis performance, a near sweep of Iowa in softball and a new women’s golf record. The baseball team also played, but they weren’t quite as successful. Many of these teams are now in the final stretch of the season before post-season tournaments begin and are trying to get hot at the right time.
The No. 37 Wildcats started April off with a bang, sweeping all three of their matches this weekend. On Friday, they took down No. 43 Michigan 6-1 and followed that by dominating both No. 73 Michigan State and IUPUI on Sunday. Freshmen Sam Shropshire and Strong Kirchheimer continued their successful freshmen campaigns, both going undefeated on the weekend. Shropshire has been consistently ranked in the Top 100 this season, capping at No. 81 and currently at No. 113 in the country. The sweep puts Northwestern's season record at 15-9, including a 12-2 record at home. The match Sunday afternoon against Michigan State was the first home one played on the outdoor courts.
Their next match is Apr. 11, when they’ll travel to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers. The team is in the home stretch now, with only four matches remaining before the Big Ten Tournament, which will be Apr. 24 to Apr. 27 in East Lansing, Mich.
The women’s team didn’t have quite as much good fortune this weekend, going 1-1 against No. 17 Michigan and Michigan State. The loss against Michigan was the No. 11 ‘Cats’ first Big Ten loss of the season. But, a bright spot from that match was No. 44 Veronica Corning’s comeback victory over No. 9 Emina Bektas. Corning lost the first set 3-6, then rallied to win the next two 6-3, 6-4. On Sunday, Northwestern simply overpowered the Spartans. No. 36 Belinda Niu won her 12th season, good for most on the team. They’ll play their last regular-season matches in Evanston next weekend when they take on Nebraska and Iowa. With a 12-6 overall record and 6-1 in the Big Ten, they will play their final four conference games and then compete in the Big Ten Tournament held in Evanston April 24-27.
A record-setting round headlined the weekend for the women’s golf team at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. Led by junior Hana Lee, who received co-medalist honors by matching a Northwestern record with a six-under 66, the team finished with an 11-under 277 on Friday. The previous school record was 284 for 18 holes, and no other team in the tournament finished under par. The squad also set the record for the whole tournament, beating 10-under scores posted by both Alabama and Duke in past years. The team came in first of 16 schools in the tournament. For the rest of the weekend, the ‘Cats went 1-2, losing both matches Saturday to Auburn and North Carolina State before closing with a victory over Denver on Sunday.
In a series of three highly-contested games, Northwestern nearly completed the sweep against the Iowa Hawkeyes. After winning the first two games of the series 6-4 and 4-1, Iowa rallied for a 4-3 walk-off win. On Saturday, the ‘Cats won both of the doubleheader led by strong pitching performances by freshman Nicole Bond and sophomore Kristen Wood, who both pitched complete games and gave up a total of four earned runs in two games. Bond has had a particularly successful freshman year, notching a 3-0 record. They’ll be back on the diamond next weekend, when they take on Minnesota in another three-game Big Ten conference series.
Even though the team was swept by Illinois, it wasn’t all bad news for the ‘Cats. The first game of the series was ugly – a 13-0 loss. But the team bounced back and played tough in the next two games of the series, forcing the second game to ten innings, and falling 1-0 in the final game. Starting the latter was junior Brandon Magallones, who was on point from the first pitch. He pitched 7 and 2/3 innings, only giving up one run in the process. The only problem was that the offense disappeared. This sweep continues a painful season for the ‘Cats. They move to 4-22 on the year, going 1-7 in conference play. The 'Cats will try and stop the trend Tuesday, when they take on Valparaiso at home.