Feb. 6, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- For the eighth season in a row, Northwestern softball begins its road to the Women's College World Series at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. This year's tournament will be held Feb. 8-10.
After hosting a record 28 teams in 2012, this year's Kajikawa field has been pared down to 22, but still contains several of the nation's best and brightest. Seven programs in the field are ranked in the preseason USA Today/NFCA coaches poll (including four of the top five).
The Wildcats open the year at 1:30 p.m. CT Friday, Feb. 8, against No. 13 Arizona before facing 2012 NCAA Tourney qualifier San Diego State at 4 p.m. CT. On Saturday, Northwestern takes on Pac-12 foe Oregon State at 10 a.m. CT and Boise State at 12:30 p.m. CT. Then, on getaway day Sunday, NU takes on No. 2 Oklahoma at noon CT. All of Northwestern's games at this year's Kajikawa will be played at the Tempe Sports Complex. Remember, all times listed on NUsports.com are in CT, so subtract an hour to convert to Mountain Time if you are attending in person!
Gametracker will be available for every game while fans also can follow live twitter updates from @NU_SportsLIVE.
Northwestern returns all but one starter from its 2012 squad that made a strong return to the NCAA Tournament where it knocked off No. 6 overall seed Texas en route to the Regional championship round. Included in those returners are NFCA All-America junior third baseman Marisa Bast, three-time All-Big Ten infielder Emily Allard and All-Big Ten pitching/designated player Amy Letourneau.
The Wildcats have serious program momentum carrying over from the end of last season. Just to make the NCAA tournament, NU won eight of its final nine regular season games including six in a row to finish the year. The 'Cats then advanced through the winner's bracket in Austin, Texas, before ultimately bowing out on championship Sunday.
NU's entire starting outfield from that team is back, comprised of senior Kristin Scharkey in center, junior Mari Majam in left and sophomore Olivia Duehr in right. In the infield, sophomore Anna Edwards is back after starting all but one game as a freshman.
NU's rotation is headlined by senior Meghan Lamberth, junior Sammy Albanese, Letourneau and newcomer Kristen Wood; that quartet will again be managed by talented veteran catcher Paige Tonz.
For Northwestern's complete Kajikawa Classic preview and game notes package, download the .pdf at the top of this page.
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