In 2018, first-year Rachel Lewis made a splash by swinging for the fences.
This year, newcomer Danielle Williams is starring in both halves of an inning.
Coming off Big Ten Pitcher and Freshman of the Week honors, Williams (6-0) posted three wins on the mound as Northwestern (7-2) came away strong at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Wildcats faced off against Louisville (4-5) and North Carolina (5-3) twice, tripling their win total from the 2018 Challenge. Though Lewis struggled in the leadoff spot and went hitless during the weekend, the team had plenty of other options to choose from, including senior Lily Novak (seven total hits) and junior Morgan Newport (six).
9-8 W vs. Louisville
9-3 W vs. North Carolina
Scoring was on full display Friday as the Wildcats drove in 18 total runs with the help of 20 hits. The team started the day strong against Louisville by getting three runs in the top of the first inning, but the Cardinals quickly responded with five of their own against sophomore Kenna Wilkey (1-1). They gradually increased their lead during the game, holding a 8-3 lead at the end of the sixth. But the ’Cats wouldn’t give up, and a five-run seventh inning propped by faulty Louisville pitching and fielding sent the game to extras. First-year Maeve Nelson’s first career home run in the ninth proved to be the game winner as Williams retired the final three Louisville batters.
The next game saw Northwestern hold a lead the whole way through. Senior Morgan Nelson homered in the second plate appearance of the game to put up an early 1-0 lead, and midway through the third inning the Wildcats were up 5-0. Two North Carolina runs in the bottom of the third proved futile, as the ’Cats broke away in another dominant seventh inning to finish 9-3 and make it a successful Friday. Williams allowed just two earned runs in the complete-game effort.
5-0 L vs. North Carolina
A rain-delayed start set the mood for a dreary Wildcat game, and the team was shut out for the first time this season. They mustered as many hits as errors (four), while Wilkey gave up eight hits and two earned runs. North Carolina’s Brittany Pickett stomped the ’Cats with a seven-strikeout complete game, and didn’t let a single Northwestern batter get more than one hit. Seven Wildcat runners were left on base compared to the Tar Heels’ six.
4-2 W vs. Louisville
Allowing just one earned run, Williams earned her third win against the Cardinals to finish the weekend. Though Louisville got seven hits off of the first-year, they were unable to convert them to runs, scoring in just the first and six innings. A two-run Williams double in the second opened up scoring for Northwestern, and a Novak RBI single gave the Wildcats their fourth and final run.