Northwestern ends IU’s Big Ten Tournament run, 2-0

One after another, Danielle Williams sat them down.

The Northwestern ace pitched true to form in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals matchup with Indiana, bringing the seventh-seeded Hoosiers’ weekend to an abrupt end.

Now, IU will play the waiting game.

After a 2-0 loss to No. 2 Northwestern on Friday afternoon at Andy Mohr Field, the Hoosiers will await their fate in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament selection show. Indiana is on the bubble of this year’s field, having entered the week in need of at least a win or two to bolster their postseason profile.

IU notched a first-round victory over No. 10 Penn State on Thursday, but struggled to solve Williams, one of the nation’s top freshmen pitchers, 24 hours later. All that’s left to do now is wait.

“I believe if we get a shot to get in, we’re gonna represent Indiana softball very well,” IU coach Shonda Stanton said. “We can’t control that stuff. We’ve played our games. We’ve played our schedule and I’m proud of our group.”

There’s no shame in falling to Williams and the Wildcats, a program that won each of its conference games until the final weekend of the regular season. Williams, a left-hander from California, was a catalyst for that run.

She entered the postseason with a Big Ten-leading 27 wins, while her 266 strikeouts during the regular season ranked second in the league. Over the course of the spring, she formed a reputation as one of the nation’s top newcomers, showcasing good command and changeup that drives hitters mad.

Friday was no different.

Williams allowed only one hit over her seven shutout innings, retiring the final 16 batters she faced. Indiana made hard contact at times, but struggled to find holes in the field.

It all added up to Williams’ Big Ten-best 13th shutout of the season.

“Williams is just something special in the circle,” Stanton said. “They made some great defensive plays and I felt early, we did a pretty good job of sticking to the game plan and had some real solid contact. Their centerfielder made a nice play on a ball. There was a hard-hit groundball to third base where they had a double play. I thought we were lining some shots right at them and we just didn’t get any lucky breaks.”

At the same time, the Wildcats’ lineup made the most of their opportunities.

Indiana received six quality innings from pitchers Tara Trainer and Emily Goodin, who combined to yield only four hits. But on a day when Williams was dealing, there was little room for error.

Trainer fell into a jam in the bottom of the third not long after issuing a leadoff walk. With two on and two outs, Stanton turned to Goodin, who gave up a flare RBI single to Jordyn Rudd.

Northwestern struck again in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of a favorable carom off Trainer’s glove. The IU pitcher couldn’t stab a comebacker, deflecting it into left field to allow Morgan Nelson to score from second base.

With Williams on her game, those two runs were more than enough.

“That was a hard-fought battle,” Stanton said. “You gotta tip your cap to Northwestern.”

The Hoosiers also saluted the fans at Andy Mohr Field after the contest, not knowing whether they’ll have another chance to play this season. They’ll watch the selection show as a team on Sunday, then determine where they go from there.

Indiana came into the week ranked 48th in the RPI, and while the tournament is no sure thing, the Hoosiers are at least encouraged by the direction the program is headed.

“We won 36 ball games over the course of the year,” Stanton said. “We finished pretty strong here, as of late. We’ve gone on runs. We’ve beaten some really quality, top teams when you look at LSU and Georgia. There’s a lot of great things when you talk about Indiana softball.”

By Sunday, the Hoosiers hope to have one more.

One comment

  1. I know Trainer is one of the better pitchers in IU history but, her prppesity for walks has hurt her and the team at times this year in crucial situations. All in and lol, a pretty good year for IU softball. Go Hoosiers!

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