Northwestern softball to return five starters from WCWS team

Maeve Nelson (4) is one of five seniors to return for Northwestern next season. (Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports)

Northwestern softball announced Thursday that five of its starters will return next season.

Senior All-Big Ten players Nikki Cuchran, Maeve Nelson, Jordyn Rudd, Skyler Shellmyer and Danielle Williams will all be returning. Both Williams and Rudd were named All-Americans for their performances as well.

The announcement came in true Chicago sports fashion, echoing the statement issued by Michael Jordan when he announced in 1995 that he would be returning to the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

Northwestern recently made its first appearance in the Women’s College World Series in 15 years.

Williams is a first-team All-American who was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. She went 31-6 in the circle with a 2.09 ERA. She recorded 333 strikeouts, which was good for third-most in the country.

Rudd, who was named a third-team All-American, was the team’s best hitter, posting a .370 batting average. She was a big part in propelling Northwestern to the WCWS — after the team went down 5-0 against Arizona State, Rudd went 4-for-5 with three RBI to mount the comeback.

Nelson also notched three hits in that game, while Shellmyer had two hits and two RBI. Northwestern wound up winning 8-6 to advance past the Sun Devils.

The Wildcats finished the season 45-13, eliminated in the WCWS after losing to eventual national champion Oklahoma and No. 5-seed UCLA.