Wildcat of the Week: Adrienne Monka
Yes, another congratulations to Drake Dunsmore and Jeremy Ebert for getting drafted this weekend and to Al Netter to signing a contract to play for the 49ers shortly after. Those guys are great and completed a major accomplishment. They deserve a lot more analysis and praise for the goal they just achieved.
I am going to take Wildcat of the Week away from Radio City Music Hall though and back toward Evanston.
The club of players who have hit McGaw Hall from Sharon J. Drysdale Field is very very small — just five players with two added this year. Monka accomplished the feat earlier this season. This weekend, she became the first player in team history to do it twice.
This weekend was not about the gargantuan home run that the senior infielder the players call “Love” hit. This was about a week where Monka finally played like she had for the first three years of her career after fighting off a nagging injury throughout the early part of the season.
Monka hit her roof blast to break a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning Sunday against Ohio State and give NU a 3-1 victory to spark a Sunday sweep of the doubleheader between NU and Ohio State. This came after Monka hit her 50th and 51st career home run earlier in the week, becoming the fourth player in Northwestern history to reach 50 home runs.
Monka has been a slugger throughout her career and, even while fighting through a nagging injury this season, gets the respect of opposing pitchers. She rarely gets a good pitch to hit. And Monka has a great eye already and great plate discipline.
This year has been a bit of a struggle though because of that injury. She is batting .300 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs with a .506 on-base percentage. Last year she hit .461 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs and her career average entering this season is .375, 13.7 home runs per year and 47.3 RBIs per year. So far, her batting numbers are a little below average. But you can see that she still makes quite an impact even if she is not hitting as well as she had in previous years.
The Wildcats do not appear to be headed to the NCAA Tournament this year, marking the third straight year the team will miss the tournament, but Monka is wrapping up another stellar career for a Northwestern softball player at first base.
Sam Chien, Men’s Golf: Chien helped Northwestern charge up the leaderboard by challenging for the gold medal at the Big Ten Championships this weekend. The Wildcats finished third overall and Chien finished in solo second place thanks to a 3-under 69 on the final day. He finished the tournament at one under, four strokes behind Illinois’ Luke Guthrie but two shots clear of third place finisher Matt Thompson of Michigan. The low-scoring day helped Chien jump from fourth to second. The Wildcats are awaiting their seeding for the NCAA Tournament.
Shannon Smith, Lacrosse: The senior had a big day in her final home game at Lakeside Field. Smith scored four goals, including the first in the second half, to spark another come-from-behind victory for the No. 1-ranked Wildcats. Northwestern needed all four goals to erase a slow start and a 4-2 deficit at the half. Northwestern outscored No. 9 Virginia 11-2 in the second half for a 13-6 win. Smith’s four goals brought her career total to 244 and she sits six shy of Kristin Kjellman’s record set in 2007. The Wildcats are next in action at the ALC Tournament in Gainesville (my neck of the woods!) this weekend.
Drake Dunsmore & Jeremy Ebert, Football: Okay, let’s give another congratulations to Dunsmore and Ebert for adding their names to the wall inside Northwestern’s football center. The Buccaneers drafted Dunsmore in the seventh round and the Patriots selected Ebert two picks later. Both figure to have a shot at making their respective rosters. This is a big accomplishment, but the work has just begun.