Purdue (10-28, 3-6 Big Ten) faced off against Northwestern (23-13, 6-5 Big Ten) at home this weekend in a series set in frigid weather. After having won the first two matchups on Friday and Saturday, the Boilers dropped the final contest on Sunday, falling short of the series sweep.
The series began Friday with a 14-6 win. Purdue was led by junior infielder Jenny Behan, who had three hits, which included a double, four RBIs and two runs. But Behan had plenty of help, especially in the first inning, where the Boilers had six hits and five runs on just 13 pitches, which was enough for opposing Wildcat head coach Kate Drohan to send sophomore pitcher Morgan Newport to the dugout.
Saturday’s 6-3 win had the offense coming back to earth a little, all expect for Behan, who carried Friday’s momentum into the second game of the series. She again led the team with three hits, two runs, and four RBIs.
In addition to Behan’s offense, the combined pitching between freshman Sydney Bates and junior Kaitlynn Moody gave the Boilers a defense that was tough to crack. Bates threw six strikeouts in eight innings pitched and allowed three runs and four hits in the same span.
Moody, who threw six strikeouts as well, also held the Wildcats to six runs and four hits through four innings in Friday’s opener. But the high-caliber performance from Moody and Bates slipped in Sunday’s closer.
Bates received the nod as pitcher to start the game, but after 37 first-inning pitches and five runs given up, head coach Boo De Oliveira replaced her with Moody, who gave up four runs. And by the fifth inning, the Boilermakers saw their fourth pitcher take the mound after Northwestern increased their lead to seven runs.
Freshman pitcher Giana Lopez and junior pitcher Maddie Damon were both called upon during the Wildcats’ nine-run streak during the third, fourth, and fifth innings. But no matter how many changes De Oliveira made, the Northwestern bats were ready.
The strong performance in the first inning by the Boilermakers wasn’t enough to keep up with the opposing team, as they scored just one run during the last five innings. They did record nine singles as a team, with sophomore shortstop Halle Hixenbaugh leading the team with three, and junior second baseman Stephanie Ramsey sent a ball out of the park on a grand slam that gave Purdue a 6-5 lead.
Sunday’s series closer ended with a score of 17-8 after just six innings with a win for the Wildcats.
The Boilers host Indiana State in a midweek doubleheader at 4 p.m. Wednesday night at Bittinger Stadium. Over the weekend, they will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska, to face the Cornhuskers.