The young left-hander showed it on Friday. She showed it again Sunday.
Danielle Williams is not your typical freshman softball player.
The Northwestern standout spun her second complete-game masterpiece in three games, limiting Nebraska to one hit while striking out 12 in the Wildcats’ series-sweeping 4-0 win Sunday at Bowlin Stadium.
The loss dropped the Huskers to 13-22 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten. It’s Nebraska’ worst nine-game start to league play since joining the Big Ten.
In two games, Nebraska managed only four hits and struck out 22 times against Williams. She led Northwestern to an 8-0 win Friday.
Yeah, Nebraska’s offense struggled, but so has every other team that has seen Williams. Her earned-run average now sits at 1.07, and she improved to 19-3 overall.
“She is the exception to the (freshman) rule, not the rule,” NU coach Rhonda Revelle said. “It’s kind of like football, they redshirt most of them for a reason, and when they don’t everybody talks about it. It’s really no different on the women’s side, we just don’t have the leverage in our roster to be able to (redshirt).”
Nebraska, meanwhile, endured some more growing pains this weekend, offensively and defensively.
On Sunday, junior Samantha Owen recorded the team’s only hit — a first-inning single — and the Huskers never had a runner in scoring position against Williams.
“In order to turn the corner, we’re going to have to beat some of those teams,” Revelle said of facing teams with All-America-caliber pitchers. “At this point in time, we’re not there. We’re working to get back there.”
Northwestern (29-7, 9-0) scored all four runs in two-out situations.
Revelle, after Saturday’s 8-2 loss, said the Huskers were in need of a mentality shift. Despite another loss, the Husker coaches saw some positive moments in the series finale.
Revelle pointed to some good plays on defense — NU turned a key double play midway through the game, and freshman Carson Fischer had a great over-the-shoulder catch at second in the seventh. Freshman Lindsey Walljasper gave NU four strong innings of relief. More importantly, the team didn’t quit, Revelle said.
“I look at stuff like that, and you try to build on that,” Revelle said. "Offensively, we’re still trying to find ourselves. We’ll face a non-All-American kind of pitcher and have a pretty good day and then we’ll face an All-American kind of pitcher that can make adjustments and kind of out-adjust us, and this kind of stuff happens. So we have a ways to go there.”
While Northwestern will continue to ride the arm of its freshman sensation, the Huskers will look to continue to develop their younger players, which makes the final six weeks of the season critical. Two freshmen — Walljasper and Courtney Wallace — threw the majority of the innings this weekend, and several other first-year starters remain in the lineup.
Wallace took the loss, giving up three runs, one earned, in three innings.
“If we handle this period of time correctly it will pay dividends moving forward to get these young players this kind of experience,” Revelle said.