March 13, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern will make its lone visit of the season to the Sunshine State this week as the Wildcats visit Winter Haven, Fla. for the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. The 'Cats are primed to take on LIU Brooklyn, North Dakota State and Bucknell in a trio of nonconference games Thursday through Saturday.
Through nine games, first baseman Jack Havey has been one of the consistent performers at the plate for Northwestern. The senior elevated his batting average by 88 points in the three-game series at Missouri State and is currently hitting .469, a number that ranks him tops in the Big Ten and 13th in the country as of March 12. Havey's on-base percentage of .553 is also good for second in the league and 19th in the NCAA.
Junior second baseman and closer Kyle Ruchim returned to the field for the first time since Feb. 16 during Northwestern's three-game trip to Missouri State. In three starts at second, Ruchim is batting .615 with two stolen bases, three RBI and four runs scored. He's made three appearances out of the bullpen and boasts a 1.80 ERA with six strikeouts in 5.0 IP.
Fifth-year senior Zach Morton has found ways to get it done both on the mound and at the dish for the Wildcats. The fifth-year standout is 2-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 14 strikeouts in three 2013 starts. The Evanston, Ill., native did not allow a run in 7.2 IP in his last start while striking out a season-high six. At the plate, Morton is batting a healthy .324 and leads Northwestern with nine RBI. He also uncorked NU's first home run of the season, a towering three-run shot against Northern Kentucky on Feb. 23.
BIG TEN'S BEST
As conference play draws near, the Wildcats remain near the top of the Big Ten in several key statistical categories. Offensively, Northwestern ranks fifth in the Big Ten in batting average (.279), on-base percentage (.363) and slugging percentage (.349). On the mound, the 'Cats lead the league in fewest runs allowed (39) and rank third in the conference in opposing batting average (.235). Northwestern's pitching staff also leads the Big Ten with 7.9 strikeouts per game this season.
A single run has decided three of Northwestern's nine games this season. The Wildcats won the first such contest, 4-3, on Feb. 23 vs. Northern Kentucky. NU fell to Missouri State, 2-1, in 10 innings on March 8 and 3-2 on March 10. Northwestern played in 20 one-run ballgames last season or 37 percent of its total contests. Last year the Wildcats were 8-12 in games decided by a single score and eight of those one-run contests came during Big Ten play.
For more notes and information about the Wildcats and this weekend's series, please download the Northwestern Notes PDF above.
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