The Rutgers softball team concluded its regular season this weekend with a series loss to Northwestern. The Scarlet Knights (32-24, 9-14) were able to stave off the sweep by winning their game Saturday.
The Wildcats (35-11, 20-3) began the series on Friday afternoon by securing a dominating 11-2 victory over Rutgers.
No. 18 Northwestern’s offense started the game off strong, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. The Wildcats' bats would remain hot throughout the game as they scored at least 1 run in all six innings played.
Down 5-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, sophomore infielder Maddie Lawson hit a 2-run home run over the left field fence, bringing home junior pitcher and outfielder Morgan Smith and cutting the Knights' deficit to 3 runs.
In the top of the fifth inning, though, Northwestern was able to score 4 runs to pull away. In the sixth inning, the Wildcats added another 2 runs, and after Rutgers failed to respond, the game ended an inning early due to college softball’s mercy rule.
The Knights' batters struggled to put the ball in play on Friday, with only three hits in the game.
Rutgers started the game on the front foot, with Lawson hitting a run-scoring single to left field to bring home senior infielder Payton Lincavage in the bottom of the first inning. Northwestern scored a run to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the third inning, but the Knights scored 2 runs on four hits in the bottom of the third inning to retake the lead.
Rutgers tallied on another run in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, junior infielder Lauren Punk hit a 3-run home run to center field to give the Knights a 7-1 lead and put the game out of reach.
The Wildcats attempted a small rally in the final two frames but ultimately lost by 4 runs.
Rutgers' batters had a bounce-back game on Saturday, totaling 11 hits. Inside the circle, graduate student pitcher Jaden Vickers tossed all seven innings, allowing nine hits, 3 earned runs and striking out four batters.
In yesterday's rubber match, Northwestern defeated the Knights by a score of 2-0. The game was close throughout, with Rutgers getting two more hits than the Wildcats, but the Knights could not bring any of their runners home.
Northwestern hit solo home runs in the second and fourth innings, respectively, to score its only 2 runs of the game. Sophomore pitcher and first baseman Georgia Ingle came in relief to pitch three innings without allowing a run or hit for Rutgers, but her effort was not enough as the Knights could not make the most of their scoring opportunities.
Despite losing the series, Rutgers qualified for the Big Ten Tournament as the eleventh seed.
The Big Ten Tournament is a single-elimination tournament that will begin on Wednesday and take place in Urbana, Illinois. The No. 11 seeded Knights will take on No. 6 seeded Ohio State on Wednesday at noon. All tournament games will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
For more updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.