#17 Northwestern Softball 2021 Preview

Northwestern Wildcats
Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
 Northwestern Logo
Northwestern has been a regular in the NCAA Tournament during Coach Kate Drohan’s 19 seasons leading the program. In the latest NCAA Tournament it took five games, but the Wildcats reached the Super Regionals for the first time since 2008. Once there they were blanked by Oklahoma twice, but it was still a very successful season that resulted in a program record 21 Big Ten wins and Coach of the Year accolades for Drohan. With nearly everybody back, Northwestern will look to take another step forward in 2020.
2019: 47-13, 21-2
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kate Drohan
Key Departed Players:
Morgan Nelson, IF/OF, .280 BA, 6 HR, 31 RBI
Lily Novak, IF, .261 BA, 3 HR, 27 RBI
Kenna Wilkey, P, 2.80 ERA, 11-2 W/L, 100.0 IP, 98 SO
Key Returning Players:
Jordyn Rudd, C/UTL, .328 BA, 7 HR, 51 RBI
Nikki Cuchran, IF, .320 BA, 4 HR, 35 RBI
Morgan Newport, UTL, .284 BA, 4 HR, 24 RBI
Maeve Nelson, IF, .262 BA, 11 HR, 31 RBI
Rachel Lewis, IF/OF, .222 BA, 14 HR, 31 RBI, 15 SB
Danielle Williams, P, 1.55 ERA, 31-8 W/L, 230.0 IP, 317 SO
It was the play of reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Danielle Williams that catapulted Northwestern towards the top of the Big Ten in 2019. She hurled 230.0 innings, went 31-8 and posted a stellar 1.55 ERA. She struck out 317 batters, while only walking 46. If Williams can build off that success and get even better with a year of experience under her belt, the Wildcats will be in great shape. Morgan Newport and Kaley Winegarner are very experienced players who can add more options in the circle when needed and sophomore Sydney Supple is emerging as a dominate force. The Wildcats were not the most consistent hitters in 2019. Jordyn Rudd and Nikki Cuchran were the only hitters to bat over .300 last season. They should lead the way again this year. Maeve Nelson and Rachel Lewis combined to hit 25 homeruns and are the most powerful options at the plate. If those two and players like Newport can boost their batting average a little bit, Northwestern will give themselves more opportunities to score some runs in those tight, low scoring games that they lost at times last season. In nine of their 13 losses in 2019, Northwestern was shutout. In two others they managed just one run. It will not take much offense to turn some of those losses into close wins.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament