Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Big Ten Softball Power Rankings: Northwestern Retakes Top Spot, Conference Play Begins

March 24, 2023

The Northwestern team we have been waiting to see has finally arrived. Danielle Williams was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0 with a 0.55 earned run average and 17 strikeouts in 12.2 innings.

She pitched a five-hit complete-game over No. 19 Auburn and collected her 10th career Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor.

The big wins for Northwestern pushed the Wildcats to the top spot this week. Ohio State made the biggest jump this week, moving up two spots. Illinois dropped two spots.

The rest of the Power Rankings are pretty straightforward.

1. No. 23 Northwestern
Previous: 3 | Record: 14-8

Northwestern finished the Omni Hall of Fame Classic in Oklahoma City 4-1. The 2-1 loss to No. Oklahoma even helped bump them up.

Lauren Boyd held the Sooners to two hits and one earned run in five innings. She struck out three and walked one.

Hannah Cady had two of NUโ€™s three hits including a home run.

Up Next: Minnesota

2. No. 25 Maryland
Previous: 1 | Record: 22-5

The Terps have won 13 of their last 14 and continue to climb in the polls.

Maryland finished the weekend 3-1, dropping their only contest to Texas Tech. Senior Trinity Schlotterbeck had a career day against Bucknell. She struck out 10 of the first 11 batters she faced, setting a new career-high.

Freshman Keira Bucher recorded her ninth save which is tops in Division I.

Up Next: Indiana

3. RV Nebraska
Previous: 2 | Record: 20-9

Nebraska went 4-1 over the week with a loss to Kansas and wins over Iowa State, Kansas City and Omaha.

The win against Iowa State could be the momentum needed heading to conference play. Courtney Wallace improved to 12-5, limiting the Cyclones to five hits and one run.

Brooke Andrews hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth driving in Sydney Gray and Katelyn Caneda.

Up Next: Purdue

4. Minnesota
Previous: 4 | Record: 19-10

The Gophers went 3-1 with wins against Wichita State, South Dakota State, Arizona State and a loss to No. 2 Oklahoma State.

Natalie DenHartog hit three home runs and before the loss, the Gophers were on a season-high eight-game win steak.

Autumn Pease improve to 12-3 with 124 strikeouts and leads the conference with 99 innings pitched.

Up Next: Northwestern

5. Wisconsin
Previous: 5 | Record: 13-8

The Badgers had the week off.

Up Next: Michigan State

6. Ohio State
Previous: 9 | Record: 18-7

The Buckeyes have won 12 straight, their longest winning streak in 17 years.

Melina Wilkison (.424, 22 RBIs, six doubles) was named Co-Player of the Week after reregistering 18 hits, 11 RBIs and five stolen bases. She tied a conference record with five hits on March 14 against Charleston Southern.

Allison Smith leads the conference with 114 strikeouts and leads the team with 81.2 innings pitched, 2.06 ERA and nine wins.

Up Next: Michigan

7. Penn State
Previous: 6 | Record: 18-4

The Nittany Lions have matched the best start through 22 games in program history that was set by the 2006 team.

Penn State has outscored opponents 127-39 and is outhitting them 163-74. Kaitlyn Morrison leads the teams with a .403 batting average and Lexie Black leads with a .703 slugging. There are six players who have an on-base percentage of at least .400.

Bailey Parshall is ranked 26th nationally with a. 1.24 ERA. The pitching staff has the 13th-best ERA in Division I with a 1.82.

Parshallโ€™s start against Canisius was her 140th appearance, setting a new program record. She also became the second player to record at least 700 strikeouts in program history. Her 702 strikeouts sits second behind Missy Beseresโ€™ 745.

Up Next: Iowa

8. Iowa
Previous: 8 | Record: 18-11

The Hawkeyes finished their 10-game spring break trip with a 7-3 record.

Senior Breanna Vazquez threw 32 innings, seven appearances, and finished with an ERA of 0.88 and a 5-1 record. She struck out 37 batters.

Sophomore Tristin Doster and junior Grace Banes each nine RBIs. Senior Nia Carter ranks first in the conference with a .485 average and 49 hits. She ranks second for on-base percentage (.540) and toughest to strikeout. She is one of six players in the conference who has struck out less than four times.

Up Next: Penn State

9. Illinois
Previous: 7 | Record: 18-9

Illinois only played one game since last weekโ€™s rankings. It was a 5-1 win over Bradley.

Lauren Wiles improved to 5-3 and Addy Jarvis earned her third save of the year.

Avrey Steiner, Delaney Rummell, Megan Ward and Kailee Powell each had two hits. Stevie Meade drove in two runs.

Up Next: Rutgers

10. Michigan
Previous: 10 | Record: 13-11

On Thursday, the University of Michigan announced the renaming of its stadium to Alumni Field at Carol Hutchins Stadium to honor the career of longtime head coach Carol Hutchins.

Hutchins is the winningest coach in NCAA softball history with 1,707 victories and a career winning percentage of .755 (1,707-555-5).

Up Next: Ohio State

11. Indiana
Previous: 12 | Record: 19-9

Indiana ran its winning streak to 12 games after a perfect weekend in Memphis.

Freshman Taryn Kern was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year for the second straight week. She batted .667, slugged 1.917 and had an .818 OBP last week. She hit four home runs. six extra-base hits, drove in 11 runs and scored 10 runs.

Kern leads the team in home runs with nine and leads the conference in slugging percentage (.910), OBP (.574), OPS (1.484) and HBP (9). She has scored the second-most runs (30) in the Big Ten.

Up Next: Maryland

12. Rutgers
Previous: 11 | Record: 23-10

Rutgers had its best start since 1980 and is coming off a 6-0 weekend at home.

Ryann Orange was 6-for-11 with two runs and four RBIs. Katie Wingert and Kyleigh Sand combined for seven of Rutgersโ€™ 16 doubles. Wingert leads the team with 10 this season and only needs three more to etch his name in the programโ€™s record book.

Raimy Gamsby pitched 15 innings over the weekend with an ERA of 1.87 and struck out 10 batters in three appearances.

Up Next: Illinois

13. Purdue
Previous: 13 | Record: 15-13

Purdue went 3-4 last week with wins against Samford, St. Thomas and Indiana State. The four losses were to North Dakota State, Ole Miss (twice) and Indiana State.

Tyrina Jones leads the team in almost every offensive category with a .375 batting average, runs scored (18), RBIs (23) and slugging percentage (.615).

Madi Elish is 4-0 in the circle and Alex Echazarreta has a team-high five wins (5-8).

Up Next: Nebraska

14. Michigan State
Previous: 14 | Record: 9-12

The Spartans won their lone game of the week, a 3-0 contest against Central Michigan.

Sophomore Faith Guidry pitched a two-hit complete game shutout with four strikeouts and three walks. She didnโ€™t allow a hit until the sixth inning.

Five different players recorded hits.

Up Next: Wisconsin

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