Northwestern Sweeps Softball in Final Big Ten Weekend

In the final weekend of Big Ten conference play, the Northwestern Wildcats swept the Spartans.

Coming into the three-game series, the Wildcats were on a four-game losing streak before the Spartans came to town. This streak came to a stifling end, with the 8-0 victory the ‘Cats had over MSU on May 2, the first game of the series.

The Wildcats’ offense exploded during the third inning with four runs brought in from the four hits the Spartans allowed. In the fourth, Northwestern brought home another run, to keep their lead rolling forward. The fifth and final inning due to a mercy was solidified by Wildcats’ Brianna LeBeau’s home run, followed by two walked batters leaving the bases loaded for the final walked batter to end the game.

Despite the shutout, two Spartans made themselves known. Michigan State left fielder, Kassidy Kujawa, came in clutch to rob Northwestern from a home run in the third with a jumping reach-over grab over the fence. Freshman, Sarah Gutknecht had the only two hits let up by Northwestern pitcher, Kristen Wood.

In the second game of the series, the Spartans avoided a shutout but still fell to the ‘Cats with the final score of 9-1. With an early start from the Wildcat offense, the Spartans found the score 3-0 after two innings of play. The Wildcats were pushing for more, but catcher Ellie Stoffer, threw out a runner on a steal attempt to lessen the offensive blow from NU.

The Wildcats brought in three runners in the bottom of the fourth to create a 6-0 lead over the Spartans. MSU responded with back-to-back doubles by Sarah Bowling and Kujawa, putting MSU on the board with a 6-1 score. The Spartans were only able to score once, while the Wildcats were able to send nine around, leading to a 9-1 Northwestern victory.

The final game of the season, on May 4 was marked by Destinee Luna’s lead off homerun in the top of the fourth. This placed the Spartans on the board with a 2-1 NU lead.

Although the big hit from Luna, the Wildcats took the game back in the bottom of the fifth, turning the score from 2-1 to 6-1 in a single inning. Following the explosion in the fifth, Michigan State pitcher, Valerie Kaff, went scoreless for MSU in the sixth inning.

After a NU pitching change in the seventh, the Spartans were able to score one more run on a Gutknecht double which brought Shanin Thomas home, establishing the final 6-2 score.

The Spartans landed the No. 12 seed for Big Ten tournament play this upcoming week.

The Spartans will return back to Evanston, Ill. for game one of tournament play on May 7 at 8 p.m. against the Northwestern Wildcats.

Nicole Daniel is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports