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    April 9, 1998

    Softball to Face Penn State

    Northwestern Wildcats (22-11, 5-3 Big Ten)
    vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
    (13-19-1, 3-7 Big Ten)
    April 11-12, 1998 * Evanston, Ill.

    The Northwestern softball team hosts the Penn State Nittany Lions for a critical three-game series this weekend at Anderson Field.

    NU lost back-to-back games for the first time this season when they dropped a doubleheader at Minnesota on Wednesday. They lost game one, 11-1, and game two, 10-4. NU had a 4-0 lead after three innings in game two, but couldn't hold on for the win. Brooke Siebel was 3-for-6 with three RBIs and a run scored in the two games. Amanda Peterson had three hits and two runs scored and NU swiped five bases.

    The 'Cats continued their early season roll through the Big Ten with a sweep of Indiana last weekend. NU dominated all three games, winning by scores of 6-0, 7-1 and 6-2. NU pitching gave up just seven hits and one earned run and the offense cranked out 36 hits and 12 RBIs. The 'Cats also swiped six bases in the final two games. Jill Nesbitt and Jenni Beseres swept Big Ten Player and Pitcher of the Week honors for their performances.

    Northwestern vs. Penn State

    This weekend's series will mark the 24th, 25th and 26th games in the all-time series between Northwestern and Penn State. NU holds an 18-5 lead and swept a three-game series last year in State College.

    Head Coach Sharon Drysdale

    Sharon Drysdale (Brockport (N.Y.) St., 1966) is in her 20th year as head coach of the Wildcats and boasts a career record of 612-433-3. She picked up her 600th career victory earlier this season in a 4-3 win over Santa Clara. In her 20 years at NU, she has compiled a 548-422-3 mark, including a 226-158 mark in Big Ten play. She has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times (1984, '87, and '95) and has won five Big Ten titles. Her teams have also made four appearances in the College World Series. NU has put together 10 30-win seasons under Drysdale.

    The Indiana Series

    Northwestern kept it's hot streak going with its first three-game series sweep of Indiana since 1985 last weekend. NU got things going with a 6-0 win in game one, thanks largely in part to the pitching of Jackie DeBoard and Jenni Beseres. DeBoard tossed four innings of one-hit ball, striking out nine and walking just two, before Beseres came in to finish off the Hoosiers with three hitless innings. It was Beseres' first save of the season. Brooke Siebel was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including her first career home run. DeBoard and Mikie Chambers each added two hits. The 'Cats made it a Saturday sweep with a 7-1 win in game two. DeBoard started the contest and threw one inning before leaving with a hand injury suffered while trying to lay down a bunt. Beseres came in to throw six hitless innings and pick up her third win of the year. Jill Nesbitt and Brittany Nelson each had three RBIs. Kyla Hattabaugh was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. The 'Cats made it five Big Ten wins in a row with a 6-2 win on Sunday. Siebel improved to 6-3 on the year with the win. She gave up five hits and one earned run in six innings. Hattabaugh was 3-for-4 with an RBI and Nesbitt was 2-for-2.

    The Minnesota Series

    As well as things went in the Indiana series, they couldn't have gone much worse for NU in a midweek doubleheader in Minneapolis. Siebel was tagged for eight earned runs in an 11-1 loss in game one. At the plate, she was 1-for-3 with NU's lone RBI. Northwestern came out of the gate strong in game two, taking a 4-0 lead after three innings. The Gophers scored six runs though, all with two outs, in the fourth and added four more in the sixth to seal the win. Jenni Beseres went the distance, giving up seven earned runs and 14 hits. Brooke Siebel stayed hot at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Amanda Peterson, Kyla Hattabaugh and Mikie Chambers each had two hits.

    Big Ten Honors

    Jill Nesbitt and Jenni Beseres swept Big Ten Player and Pitcher of the Week honors for their performances a week ago. Nesbitt was 7-for-12 (.583) last week with three RBIs, a double and three runs scored in five games. In the three-game series with Indiana, she was 6-for-7 with three runs and all three RBIs. She also recorded 25 putouts without an error. Beseres was 1-0 with a save, her first of the season, in four relief appearances last week. She gave up one hit, struck out 12 and gave up five walks in 13 scoreless innings.

    Mowing Them Down

    Sophomore pitcher Jackie DeBoard continues to shine in her second season as a Wildcat. She's 13-2 on the year with an 0.83 ERA, good for 18th in the country, and two no-hitters. She's also ranked 12th in the nation in strikeouts per game, fanning 8.6 batters every seven innings. She has struck out 114 batters and walked just 22 in 92.2 innings pitched. DeBoard has thrown six shutouts and 10 complete games. She leads the conference in ERA, opposing batting average (.174), strikeouts per game, hits allowed per game (4.31), runs allowed per game (1.28) and saves (2).

    Siebel is Smoking

    Freshman hurler Brooke Siebel is also having an outstanding year on the mound. She's 6-4 on the year with a 2.27 ERA. Siebel also is one of NU's most potent offensive weapons. She's second on the team with a .355 batting average and a .452 slugging percentage. She leads the team with six doubles and is third in RBIs, with 16, and runs scored, with 20.

    Staying Alive

    NU has been a durable team all season long. Brooke Siebel, Kyla Hattabaugh, Amanda Peterson, Jenn Shull, Lindsey Prezell, Brittany Nelson and Jill Nesbitt have all started every game this year for NU. Of the regular starters, only Tami Jones, out with an ankle injury, has missed significant time. In fact, neither Peterson nor Shull have missed a start in the last season and a half as both started all 50 games a season ago. Peterson has played in 130 of a possible 135 games in her career.

    Defense, Defense, Defense

    Much of NU's success this season can be attributed to their defense. NU is fourth in the conference in fielding percentage at .962. They have committed a league-low 32 errors and are fourth with 582 putouts. Amanda Peterson has not committed an error in the last two seasons

    Error Free

    Juniors Jill Nesbitt and Amanda Peterson are both working on impressive fielding streaks. Peterson has played 85 straight games without an error. In her career, she has committed just one error in 200 chances spanning 130 games. With no errors in 11 chances against Minnesota, Jill Nesbitt extended her streak of errorless games to 45. She has gone 239 consecutive chances without an error dating back to last season. In fact, her last error came against Penn State in April of last year.

    Chasing the Leaders

    Several NU players are chasing single-season records. Freshman Kyla Hattabaugh, hitting .363 through 33 games, is chasing Kelley Green's single-season mark of .376 set in 1994. She also needs to score 14 more runs to break Sue Harrelson's s mark of 38, set in 1995. Jill Nesbitt's 21 RBIs is just seven off the mark of 28, set by both Kelley Green and Erin Robson in 1995.

    Off and Running

    After finishing second to Penn State in the Big Ten a year ago in stolen bases, with 104 steals in 131 attempts, NU is back at it again this season. The 'Cats have swiped 70 bases in 84 attempts. Minnesota leads the conference with 78 steals and Penn State is second with 75.

    Clutch 'Cats

    NU is getting the hits and runs when they've needed them most. Northwestern batters are hitting .388 leading off an inning, .472 with the bases loaded, .305 with runners in scoring position and .305 with RBI opportunities. Also, of their 105 RBIs this season, 52 have come with two outs. NU has outscored their opponents 30-15 in the sixth and seventh innings and is 19-1 when leading after five.

    Freshman Prowess

    Fellow freshmen Brooke Siebel and Kyla Hattabaugh have been a welcome addition to this year's squad. Besides each having started every game this season, they rank 1-2 on the NU hitting charts. Hattabaugh is hitting at a .363 clip, .423 in conference games, has nine RBIs and leads the team with a .527 slugging percentage, a .454 on-base percentage, two HRs, two triples and 25 runs scored. She's also been successful on all 10 of her stolen base attempts. Siebel is batting .355, .400 in conference games, with 16 RBI and 20 runs scored and leads the team with six doubles.

    Streaky

    Four players have had hitting streaks of seven games this season. Lindsey Prezell is currently on a seven-game streak and Kyla Hattabaugh, Brooke Siebel and Amanda Peterson have each had seven-game streaks this season. Tami Jones and Mikie Chambers have each had a six-gamestreak this year.

    Hitting the Airwaves

    WNUR, 89.3 FM, will broadcast Sunday's game at noon and will be back on Sat., May 2 to broadcast both ends of a doubleheader with Ohio State.

    Up Next

    NU is back at home this Tue., April 14, when they host the Wisconsin Badgers in a 2 p.m. doubleheader. They will play another doubleheader at Northeastern Illinois on Thursday before heading to Ann Arbor next weekend to take on conference-leading Michigan in a three-game series.

    'Cats on the Web

    For more information on the NU softball team, as well as the 16 other varsity sports, check out the Wildcat webpage. Log onto the internet at nusports.com. And for results of all Northwestern athletics, call the Wildcat sportsline. The number to call is (847) 467-NCAT.