Northwestern pitcher Danielle Williams ’22 had an incredible senior season in 2022: 31 wins, including six in the postseason, Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and first-team All- America accolades, and a trip to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS).
Now she’s back for more.
Williams is one of five core Northwestern softball players who returned for a fifth year of eligibility. She is joined by her battery mate, catcher Jordyn Rudd ’22, outfielder Skyler Shellmyer ’22, shortstop Maeve Nelson ’22 and first baseman Nikki Cuchran ’22. The Wildcats have their eyes set on a return to the WCWS.
“Team goals? Obviously, winning the World Series, that’s a no-brainer,” says Shellmyer. “I also want to win the Big Ten regular season again, win the conference tournament, host a regional and super-regional — all the things, check all the boxes.”
Williams, who ranks among Northwestern’s top 10 all-time greats in seven career pitching categories, is a big part of that plan, along with Rudd. A Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, Rudd was Softball America’s 2022 NCAA Defensive Player of the Year.
From her perspective in the outfield, says Shellmyer, “I see Jordyn and Danielle as a direct line. I really feel the energy they have and the connection they have. And I love how they bring that connection and energy to the rest of the team.”
On and off the field, the returning players know they have a responsibility to shape the next generation of Wildcats. Shellmyer says that means modeling steadiness and calmness. Rudd and Williams emphasize focusing on the team goals rather than outside expectations, while remembering the importance of keeping the game fun.
“Our young players help us remember the real joy of the game,” says Rudd. “And we get to teach them how to do things the Northwestern way.”