EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern concludes five-straight weekends of pre-conference tournament action with five games March 9-11 at the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic to be played on the field at the University of Houston.
The Wildcats open against Big XII foe Iowa State at 10 a.m. CT Friday, March 9, then play a pair of games against conference brethren Penn State: at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon and again Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. The games against the Nittany Lions are non-conference games; PSU does not appear on NU’s league schedule in 2018.
Northwestern then rounds out the event with games against Houston at 4:30 p.m. CT Saturday and Lipscomb at 9 a.m. CT Sunday morning.
The Wildcats are making their first trip to Texas since advancing to championship Sunday at the 2012 NCAA Austin Regional. At that tournament, NU defeated one of this weekend’s opponents, Houston, in the winner’s bracket game to advance to the title round against the host and sixth-seeded Longhorns.
Northwestern is coming in hot, having shut out 11th-ranked Alabama on Getaway Day Sunday at the Husky Classic. Sophomore Morgan Newport fired a three-hit shutout in just her second-ever seven-inning outing while first-year Rachel Lewis uncorked a three-run home run to provide much of the difference in a 4-0 Wildcats victory. For her efforts on the weekend, Lewis was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday.
Not to be lost in Newport’s shutout of Alabama was another first-career shutout achieved last weekend when first-year Kenna Wilkey blanked Portland State. Wilkey has been a workhorse early in her #B1GCats tenure, leading the team with 41.0 innings pitched and averaging more than a strikeout per inning.
The Wildcats enter this weekend’s event with a 10-8 overall record. Six of those losses have come to teams currently ranked or receiving votes in the most recent USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. Included in Northwestern’s win total are three run-rule victories and a pair of extra-inning triumphs.
Northwestern’s offense is scoring runs in bunches through the first 18 games of the 2018 season, ranking second among its Big Ten brethren with 85 runs scored, thanks in large part to getting on base and getting over. The Wildcats are first in the conference in on-base percentage, stolen bases and hit by pitch, and second in walks. Nationally, NU enters this weekend ranked 11th in stolen bases at 2.39 per game.
After this weekend, Northwestern will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, for a March 17 doubleheader against UIC and Indiana before opening its home schedule March 23-25 when defending Big Ten Champion Minnesota comes to Sharon J. Drysdale Field to start conference play.
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Below is a coverage schedule that should help in planning how you follow the ‘Cats for each upcoming weekend. All streams are free unless otherwise noted; subscription information for pay-per-view streams will be disseminated the week before those events. Also, EVERY GAME will have live stats and live tweets at NUsports.com and @NUSBCats on Twitter.
A full home stream and television schedule will be finalized and available next week.
HOUSTON HILTON PLAZA CLASSIC (March 9-11): NU’s tournament schedule concludes March 9-11 at the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic. The Cougars will only live stream games involving the host Houston, and that stream is available for a fee.
DOUBLEHEADER AT INDIANA (March 17): NU’s final non-conference action comes in the form of two games in Bloomington, Ind., on March 17 where the Wildcats will face UIC and Indiana in a non-Big Ten contest. Both of those games will be audio streamed live via Studio N audio at NUsports.com with Doug Meffley on the call.
Studio N is a subscription product. Cost is $3.95 for a 24-hour pass.
BIG TEN SCHEDULE: Big Ten Network is still in the process of finalizing its television and streaming schedule for the 2018 Big Ten season. That full schedule will be announced next week!
For a complete season preview and notes on this weekend’s Hilton Plaza Classic, download our Game Notes available here and in the chart at the top of this page.
Be the first to know what’s going on with the ‘Cats — Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, check us out on Instagram, visit our Social Media page and download our mobile app from the Apple Store and Google Play! To get involved with the #B1GCats, become a season-ticket holder or join the Wildcat Fund!