Northwestern throws perfect game against Iowa softball

Danielle Williams threw a perfect game for the Wildcats against the Hawkeyes.


Grace Smith

Northwestern pitcher, Danielle Williams, pitches the ball during the Iowa softball game v. Northwestern at Pearl Field on Friday, April 16, 2021. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes with a score of 7-0.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

It took 90 pitches for Northwestern’s Danielle Williams to throw a perfect game against Iowa softball Friday in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes sent 21 batters up to the plate, and all of them would be retired as the Hawkeyes never got on base in a 7-0 loss. It was the Wildcats’ first perfect game since 2005, and their first one in a seven inning game since 1984. The Wildcats have had five perfect games in program history.

Williams had six strikeouts, and when the Hawkeyes did make contact with the ball, it was often weak.

“We knew coming that she was going to be a tough pitcher against us,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “She’s really good at keeping everyone off-balance, she throws a lot of off-speeds, she really works a lot off the plate. We knew we had to be more discipline. We’re just not discipline enough right now at the plate.”

Coming into the game, Williams had a 1.67 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 75.1 innings pitched.

As for the Hawkeyes’ offense heading into the game, they had been struggling of late, as they had a .219 batting average. In their four game series against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes scored a combined total of six runs, with them only getting two hits in the second game.

“Probably a confidence thing,” said senior second baseman Aralee Bogar about the team’s poor hitting. “We just need to be confident in our swings and our teammates.”

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Freshman first baseman Denali Loecker was the Hawkeyes’ best hitter heading into the game, hitting a .308 batting average with 14 RBIs and two home runs.

But in the first game of a four game series against the Wildcats, she struck out swinging on her first at-bat, hit a groundout in the fourth inning, and then struck out looking to end the game.

Many of her teammates followed a similar theme, as they never hit anything that looked like it would go for a hit.

“We’re just not driving the ball,” Gillispie said. “We’re being very defensive hitters right now. We’re afraid of making mistakes. We’ve got to change our mindset on being a lot more aggressive on the plate. When we’re seeing pitches at the plate, we need to be a lot more aggressive on those.”

The Hawkeyes have seven home runs on the season, just two more than the number of triples they have through 25 games played.

In the Hawkeyes’ 22 games played in 2020, all of which were considered non-conference, they had 10 home runs.

Nia Carter, who is currently a sophomore, hit a team-best average of .509 in 2020. Heading into Friday’s game, her average was .280 for the 2021 season.

Another sophomore, Kalena Burns, had a good year last season with a .403 batting average and five home runs. Before Friday’s games, she had .233 batting average with two home runs.

The Hawkeyes (14-11) will face the Wildcats (19-6) in a doubleheader Saturday, with the first game beginning at 3 p.m. on ESPNU.

Iowa is hoping for a better performance from its hitters.

“We’re going to tweak a few things in the batting cage tomorrow and see if we can make some things happen,” Gillispie said. “And be a little quicker to the ball gives us a chance to see the ball a little bit longer before we make a decision on it, and it’s going to be up to our players to make those changes to have the confidence to be a tough out.”

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