While Northwestern students are still suffering through their first round of midterms, students at other Big Ten schools are packing their bags for the summer – meaning that spring seasons are ending. NBN Sports has taken a look back at the storylines of the season for each team.
Softball: First-year leaders
What do Wildcats Kenna Wilkey and Rachel Lewis have in common? Well, besides playing for teams in the Beverly Bandits organization (Wilkey and 3B Mac Dunlap were on the same roster), the two first-years have been instrumental toward Northwestern’s strong season thus far. Wilkey leads the team with a 3.34 ERA, 15 wins, and a .227 batting average against. Meanwhile, Lewis has put up a .776 slugging percentage with 54 RBI (10th in Division I) and 15 home runs (tied for 14th). To put it in simple terms: Wilkey throws heat while Lewis hits homers. Their success this quickly at Northwestern is extremely promising and will do well to continue to convince other top athletes in the nation to join the Wildcats in the coming years.
Baseball: House of Bourbon
In what has been a disappointing baseball season led by an underwhelming offensive effort, junior first baseman Willie Bourbon has been an unexpected force at the plate this season for the Wildcats. Coming off a .157 season at the plate, Bourbon is 3rd on the team in batting average this year at .276. Bourbon has also improved his eye at the plate tremendously, almost doubling his on base percentage from .242 to .400. With a team-high 5 home runs and the second-highest slugging percentage at .491, Bourbon is getting on base often and providing a power spark to keep Northwestern in games. Keep an eye on Bourbon to be a team leader next season and build off of his explosive junior year.
Men’s Tennis: Learning curve
The biggest surprise for this year’s tennis squad was the overall lack of consistency from the team’s freshmen in singles. While AJ Joshi showed promise in early games against NC State and Boise State, he has barely played for the Wildcats in conference play, sporting a 1-2 record in conference. Antonioni Fasano and Nick Brookes started off their Northwestern careers with stellar wins during non-conference play before slipping up against Big Ten competition. Both players have talent, and displayed it early on; Fasano defeated NC State’s No. 16 singles player, Alexis Galarneau, in Northwestern’s first non-conference match in January, and Brookes began the year with five wins in six matches. During Big Ten season, however, Fasano went 2-9 and Brookes went 5-6 in conference play. Both players will need to play at the high levels they reached at the beginning of the year for Northwestern to get back to the NCAA tournament next season.
Women’s Soccer: Defensive wizards
Northwestern Women’s Soccer’s success in the last few seasons has been built around their rock-solid defense. The center-back pairing of Kayla Sharples and Hannah Davison, backed by legendary keeper Lauren Clem, kept a massive 21 clean sheets in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The complement to the Wildcats’ sturdy defense, however, has been less prolific. Coach Moynihan’s offense averaged just 1.04 goals per game in the 2017 season, scoring more than two goals on only one occasion.
That trend could be about to change, though, with Northwestern showing a cutting edge in front of goal this spring season. They destroyed UIC 9-1 in the Chicago Cup semifinals, followed by a 5-1 rout of Marquette on their own turf. The Wildcats failed to score in their most recent game—a 1-0 loss to DePaul in the Chicago Cup final—but don’t let that discourage you. With creative midfielder Marisa Viggiano (2G, 8A) and striker Brenna Lovera (4G, 3A) entering their senior years, Northwestern may be coming into a purple patch of goalscoring form.
Good luck to @NUWSoccer tonight vs. UCLA. Keeper @clem_lauren came up big during #PKs in the #B1GCats win over Butler in the #NCAASoccer 1st round. Her PK strategy: “I’m just here to get in the way." https://t.co/euxvA3U71T#howtoNUpic.twitter.com/6NYG7z1H1z— Northwestern mag (@Northwesternmag) November 17, 2017