3/27/19 Purdue 9 Indiana State 6, Mallory Baker

Senior catcher Mallory Baker swings at the ball during Purdue’s 9-6 victory over Indiana State on March 27.

Purdue softball will be visiting the Northwestern Wildcats over the weekend in a conference battle. The Boilermakers (30-17, 6-8 Big Ten) will look to better their conference record over the weekend in Evanston, Illinois.

The Wildcats (33-7, 12-0 Big Ten) have been on a tear this season. So far perfect in conference play, Northwestern has been an efficiency machine. It has won 16 of its last 17 games and is currently on an 11-game win streak. Purdue will have its hands full trying to stop the Wildcats’ bats.

Purdue is coming off a massive win against Notre Dame, where the Boilers put up 10 runs and gave up only one. Keeping the offense hot will be a key factor in the matchup over the weekend. If the Boilermakers are unable to consistently hit off of the Northwestern pitchers, Purdue will struggle to stay in the game.

Purdue will also have to stay on top of pitching and fielding. During the its streak, Northwestern has held its opponents to an average of two runs per game while scoring upwards of five per game. The Boilers will most likely need to prevent errors and force the Wildcat batters to reach on outside pitches.

With Northwestern sitting at the top of conference standings, Purdue has an opportunity to climb up while shaking up the Big Ten.

Senior infielder Jenny Behan has led this season with a batting average of .362, the highest on the team. Behan is not just a consistent hitter, but a big hitter as well. She has hit 12 home runs this year, six more than the second most on the team, a stat held by senior Mallory Baker.

Northwestern is led by Nikki Cuchran, who has batted slightly worse than Behan at .336 on the season. Cuchran may be an accurate batter but has only four home runs on the season. Rachel Lewis leads the Wildcats in home runs with 13, but has batted only .233 on the year. With multiple threats on offense, Northwestern has the potential to put up many runs, forcing opposing teams to hit well or lose.

Purdue’s pitching has been led by Sydney Bates, who has made 28 appearances over the course of the season. Bates has an ERA of 2.65, the third best on the team. Her ERA is the lowest of any pitcher who has made more than four appearances at the mound.

Senior Kaitlynn Moody could also make a pitching appearance for the Boilers. She has made 27 appearances this season and has an ERA of 2.87, just above Bates’.

Northwestern’s most likely pitcher will be Danielle Williams, who boasts an impressive ERA of only 1.16 in her 28 appearances. With Williams on the mound, Purdue will have to work extra hard to earn runs against the Wildcats.

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