#30 Northwestern Softball 2014 Preview

Northwestern Wildcats

Overall Rank: #30
Conference Rank: #5 Big Ten
#30 Northwestern Softball 2014 Preview
Northwestern Team Page


The Wildcats are trying to get back to the NCAA Tournament, a place they have only been twice since 2009. Despite an impressive 31-22 record, a 12-10 conference record and only one win over ranked teams most likely kept Northwestern out of the tournament. The team returns 12 upperclassmen, six of whom are seniors, so there will be plenty of experience on this year's squad as it looks to get back to the tournament.   

2013: 31-22, 12-10
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Kate Drohan

Field Players:
The Wildcats bring back seven of last year's top eight hitters, including their top four. Amy Letourneau was the top slugger last season, hitting .382, knocking out 58 hits, 13 doubles, 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. Her average and home run total were tops on the squad, while her hits, RBI and doubles totals were second. Northwestern’s other power hitter is Marisa Bast, who knocked 12 balls out of the yard. Her 44 RBIs were a team-high. Andrea DiPrima was a doubles machine, knocking out 14, while on her way to a .354 average. Anna Edwards also has a stick, knocking eight balls out of the yard, hitting 11 doubles and bringing in 42 runs.

Letourneau is not only the top hitter on the team, but also the top pitcher. Last season she went 21-13 in 36 appearances, 32 of which were starts. She also compiled a 2.43 ERA and struck out 288 batters. She had split time in the circle with Meghan Lamberth last season, but Lamberth has graduated. The team does have Brianna LeBeau, who was a star pitcher and Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois, but she did not see any action in the circle last year.

Who to Watch:
LeBeau. The sophomore started 47 of the 50 games she played in, all being at either first or second base. However, in those 50 games, she only came up to bat 109 times, but still managed to pound out 32 hits. In high school she had some lofty hitting stats, so given more opportunities it's possible to see her numbers jump greatly. It will also be interesting to see if the Wildcats use LeBeau in the circle, to have at least somewhat of a two-pitcher rotation as they had last season.

Final Projection:
The Wildcats have a lot of experience returning, especially at the plate. They are going to have to use that experience as they trek through a tough non-conference schedule. The team starts off at the Kajikawa Classic by facing Stanford in its first game. The next weekend sees Northwestern traveling to LSU for a tournament and playing the host Tigers twice. The schedule doesn't get any easier after that as Northwestern travels to the Mary Nutter Classic, where it will face Washington, Oklahoma, San Diego State, LIU-Brooklyn and Baylor. Four of those are annual NCAA Tournament teams and three are national powers. The team faces Louisville and UCLA in a tournament, as well as USF in another to round out the tournament season. The schedule also has NU playing local teams UIC, DePaul, Notre Dame, NIU and Loyola. The school will also host the Big Ten Tournament this year

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Mari Majam, IF/OF, 175
Hits: Mari Majam, IF/OF 60
Home Runs: Amy Letourneau, P/1B, 13
RBIs: Marisa Bast, IF, 44
Runs: Marisa Bast, IF, 44
Stolen Bases: Mari Majam, IF/OF 13

Wins: Amy Letourneau, P/1B, 21
Innings Pitched: Amy Letourneau, P/1B, 218.2
Strikeouts: Amy Letourneau, P/1B, 288
Saves: Amy Letourneau, P/1B, 1


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