Softball: 'Cats end regular season on a high note at Rutgers

The regular season is over and the Northwestern Wildcats (35-11, 20-3 B1G) aren’t splitting anything in the Big Ten. The ‘Cats will head into the conference tournament this week as outright regular-season champions, hungry for postseason success.

Coming off a sweep against Nebraska last weekend, the ‘Cats headed to Jersey this weekend to take on Rutgers (32-24, 9-14 B1G) in the season finale series. They got the job done, taking two of three from the Scarlet Knights in a close three-game set.

In the first game on Friday, Northwestern disposed of Rutgers in just six innings, 11-2. The ‘Cats benefited from a three-RBI day for Kansas Robinson, who hit a two-run bomb in the second to extend the lead to 3-0 early in the game. They would not look back from there. Jordyn Rudd, who had two RBIs, smashed a home run in the fourth to make it 5-0, and things spiraled out of control from there.

Danielle Williams was solid as ever for the ‘Cats, pitching five innings and allowing just two earned runs. The California native saw her record improve to a whopping 16-1. Two races in five frames almost seems like a disappointing start at this point for the emerging ace.

On Saturday, the ‘Cats didn’t have much going for them. Despite home runs by Lauren Sciborski and Angela Zedak, Northwestern fell 7-3, tying the series at one game apiece.

Lauren Boyd had a poor showing for the ‘Cats, giving up four earned runs and nine hits in 3.2 innings in the circle. She was relieved by Sydney Supple, who continued her season-long woes, giving up three earned runs in 1 2-3 innings. Wildcat pitchers struggled with the top of the Rutgers batting order, and it was enough of a factor to propel the Scarlet Knights to victory in game two.

In the deciding game, Northwestern got a masterful performance from Danielle Williams in her second start of the weekend. She went all seven innings and pitched a shutout, leading the ‘Cats to a 2–0 victory and a series win. Williams improved to 17-1 and heads to the postseason on fire. As the ‘Cats prepare to take the field this week in the Big Ten Tournament, here are a couple of takeaways from this weekend’s action:

The team’s leading OPS is now hitting .300 and is a constant threat to opposing pitching. Robinson homered in game one and had two hits in game three. In game two, the only game in which he couldn’t get a hit, he still got on base, walking twice.

Robinson is a perfect two-hole hitter. She’s not the most imposing hitter in the lineup, but she’s tied for the lead on this list with a .438 on-base percentage and is a reliable option near the top of the lineup.

Robinson’s steady improvement throughout the season has been fun to watch, and he should go into the postseason feeling good about his year and feeling even better about how he’s playing right now. Kansas Robinson has arrived and he’s making a statement.

This Wildcat team has been pretty dominant all year. They’re 20-3 in the conference, it can’t get much more dominant than that. But this Sunday’s victory tells us more about this group. Saturday was a disappointing home loss against a decidedly worse team at Rutgers. Of course, after clinching the Big Ten regular season title on Friday, Saturday’s game was significantly less momentous, but most would still have pointed to Northwestern for a win.

But the ‘Cats rallied and showed everyone what they were made of on Sunday. They trusted their ace in Danielle Williams, and she delivered, getting Northwestern back on track in the season finale.

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