Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Big Ten Softball Power Rankings: Northwestern, Nebraska set for top two showdown

April 28, 2023

Despite losing a game to Michigan on Saturday in run-rule fashion, Northwestern maintains the top spot in this week’s Big Ten Power Rankings. 

The Wildcats won two of their three games against the Michigan Wolverines while second-place Nebraska won two of three against Wisconsin.

Ohio State continues to make its case for a NCAA Tournament bid and the Badgers took a tumble and could play themselves out of postseason contention. They dropped their series on the road to Nebraska and then were shutout in back-to-back games against Minnesota.

As the conference enters the final two weekends of the regular season, the top half is separating itself from the bottom half and rankings are starting to align with the standings.

The top four teams remained the same and will face off this weekend. No. 1 plays No. 2 and No. 3 plays No. 4. This weekend is sure to be fun.

No. 19 Northwestern

Previous: 1 | Record: 30-10, 15-2

Northwestern lost its first game since April 2 and the first run-rule loss since Feb. 17. The Wildcats beat Michigan 4-3 in the first game in 11 innings and 3-0 din the rubber match on Sunday.

Up Next: Nebraska

RV Nebraska

Previous: 2 | Record: 32-14, 12-5

Nebraska and Wisconsin played three one-run games over the weekend with the Huskers coming out on top. Courtney Wallace continues to pile on victories to her career-high in a single season. She is now 21-8.

Up Next: Northwestern


Previous: 3 | Record: 24-18, 10-7

It’s hard to punish Michigan for losing its series to Northwestern, especially when the Wolverines beat the Wildcats 15-0 on Saturday. Ironically, it was the day the program dedicated the field to former head coach Carol Hutchins.

Up Next: Indiana


Previous: 4 | Record: 34-15, 12-5

The Hoosiers rebounded from their series loss to Nebraska by sweeping Rutgers on the road. 

Taryn Kern was named Freshman of the Week for the fourth time which is tied for the fourth-most in Big Ten history. Kern blasted her Division I-leading 19th home run of the season and is now five shy of the Big Ten single-season record.

Up Next: Michigan


Previous: 9 | Record: 30-16, 11-6

The Gophers delivered in a huge week with five-consecutive wins and only allowing their opponents to score one run. 

Autumn Pease was named Pitcher of the Week after going 3-0 with a 0.00 earned run average. She pitched two complete-game shutouts with 24 strikeouts and three walks in 16 innings of work. It’s her third time winning the award this season.

Up Next: Ohio State

Ohio State

Previous: 8 | Record: 30-15, 10-7

The Buckeyes have won five of their six Big Ten series this series. They dropped their first game of the weekend 6-3 to Purdue and then stormed back for 12-9 and 9-0 victories on Saturday and Sunday.

Up Next: Minnesota


Previous: 6 | Record: 28-21, 8-9

The Hawkeyes are in the middle of their longest losing streak of the season, four games. They were swept on the road at Minnesota and outscored 11-1 then dropped their midweek game to Iowa State 7-4.

Up Next: Rutgers


Previous: 5 | Record: 23-18, 8-9

The Badgers have lost eight of their last nine games and are on the brink of being outside of the field of 64. 

Defense has been questionable and errors proved to be detrimental against Nebraska. Wisconsin lost on Friday 7-6 and all seven of the Huskers’ runs were unearned.

Up Next: Maryland


Previous: 7 | Record: 31-15, 7-10

The Terps have been inconsistent since conference play began and that happened again with a series loss to Penn State at home.

Maryland and Penn State scored a combined 11 runs in three games with Maryland losing 3-2 in eight innings and 2-1. The Terps win was by a 2-1 score.

Up Next: Wisconsin

Penn State

Previous: 10 | Record: 26-14, 7-10

Penn State has won six of its last seven and could end the season on a hot streak with opponents in the bottom three of the power rankings.

Lexi Black was named Player of the Week after finishing the week with three home runs, seven RBIs and three runs scored. It’s her first Big Ten Player of the Week award.

Up Next: Illinois


Previous: 11 | Record: 30-20, 7-10

Rutgers is streaking. Don’t get excited, it’s an eight-game losing streak. The Scarlet Knights have only scored 15 runs during the streak and have been shutout four times.

Up Next: Iowa


Previous: 13 | Record: 28-21, 6-11

Illinois swept Michigan State for its conference series win of the year. The Illini won by scores of 4-3, 12-8 and 4-2 then finished the week with a 5-0 win against DePaul.

Up Next: Penn State 


Previous: 12 | Record: 21-26, 4-13

Purdue started the weekend with a 6-3 win against Ohio State and then lost the next two games 12-9 and 9-0. The Boilermakers have an opportunity this weekend to try and play themselves into the conference tournament. They trail Illinois by two games and could spoil the Illini’s hosting job.

Up Next: Michigan State

Michigan State

Previous: 14 | Record: 12-28, 2-15

The Spartans are limping into the final two weeks of the season with no chance in playing in the conference tournament unless a miracle happens. 

Up Next: Purdue

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