The magical, exciting season ended for the Northwestern Wildcats. A Thursday afternoon 13-2 beatdown from Oklahoma, followed by a Friday night 6-1 loss to UCLA spelled doom for the Wildcats.
Staff ace Danielle Williams started both games, taking two losses to drop her record to 31-6, still very impressive. Was Williams off or were the Sooners just playing like usual? The Sooners, 55-2, won nearly 80 percent of their games by the run rule. They are a juggernaut.
After losing Thursday afternoon, the Wildcats faced a tough road. Even if they managed to get back to the Finals, they probably would have to defeat Oklahoma twice to advance to the championship game. Only two teams beat Oklahoma all season. They lost 4-2 at Texas and 4-3 versus Oklahoma State in the big 12 Tournament.
Friday, they faced the tough UCLA Bruins, who were 49-9. The Wildcats kept it closer, but the offense was too quiet.
In the two games, NU managed only eight hits. Only two were extra base hits, a home run by Rachel Lewis and a double by Grace Nieto. Meanwhile, NU gave up 21 hits, including three homers and a double.
NU made it to the final eight. Only one team wins it all. That doesn't mean everyone else had unsuccessful seasons. I'm not in the “everyone gets a ribbon” crowd, but NU's season needs o be recognized for what it was, a very successful season.
Where does it leave the Wildcats going forward? Outfield slugger Rachel Lewis is a grad student and has already committed to playing for Athletes Unlimited this summer.
Seniors include Lauren Dvorak (P), Maeve Nelson (SS), Skyler Shellmyer (OF), Lauren Caldrone (OF), Sammy Stanley (OF), Danielle Williams (P) and Jordyn Rudd. That could be some big losses, especially Williams. I'm waiting to see which players opt to return under the Covid exemptions.
For now, the Wildcats should savor their experience at the WCWS. It was a great season.
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Kate Drohan and me in Evanston IL-September 2021.