CHICAGO (CBS) — Northwestern’s softball team just won its eighth Big Ten regular season title, and the wildcats enter this year’s NCAA tournament this week with their highest seeding since 2007, which was the last time they made it to the Women’s College World Series.
This year the Wildcats are seeded ninth overall, meaning they’ll host a four-team regional, beginning with the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in the first round on Friday.
What a season it’s been for Northwestern softball. They swept the Big Ten postseason awards: pitcher of the year Danielle Williams, player of the year Rachel Lewis, and coach of the year Kate Drohan. This as they won their first regular season conference title since 2008.
“It’s been a while since the program has won it. So feels good to bring it back to the program. I’ve been her for five years now, so finally to get that ring, it feels pretty good,” Lewis said.
“It feels so good. It’s like – not unreal, but I love it so much. We worked so hard for this. So proud of us,” said outfielder Skyler Shellmyer.
“I think it really speaks to the team’s consistency. You know, they’ve battled week in and week out for the last two months. So I think it’s meant a lot to us,” said Drohan.
In a special season for the Wildcats. One of the moments that stood out was Lewis hitting her 58th career home run, breaking Tammy Williams’ school record.
“It feels pretty good. I took it from another all-time great. So pretty cool to have her at the game to watch. Love Tammy, and she’s always in the corner, and always there to support us,” adds Lewis.
Williams, who set the mark back in 2009, happened to be at the game where Lewis hit two home runs to break it.
“I actually didn’t know she was at the game until she was going crazy, but it was really cool to have her there, and just be that support system. I’ve known her ever since I got here. So she’s been awesome, and she took me under wing, and kind of showed me the ropes,” Lewis said.
Was Williams fine with her breaking the record?
“I think there’s a little bit of ego involved, but there’s always going to be I’d feel the same way. So she obviously is incredibly happy for me, and I have nothing but respect for her,” Lewis said.
The Wildcats hope they have more cool moments left this season, including a deep NCAA Tournament run.
“100%. You can ask any of my teammates. We know we can get there, and that’s our goal, is to win a championship,” Shellmyer said. “We all believe it, and we believe in each other, and we believe in this program.”
Drohan credits senior leadership for their success this season. They have eight seniors and one 5th-year player.
Northwestern’s lacrosse team is still rolling, as well. They’re hosting Syracuse on Thursday in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.