1975 Women's Softball Team
It didn’t take long for anyone who saw the 1975 Bearkitten softball team to know they were watching something special. A common cliché in sports says “defense and pitching wins championships.” That was a perfect way to describe the game plan for this team. In fact, this philosophy carried them all the way to the only Women’s College World Series appearance in program history.
Northwest had just the right mix of pitching and defense starting with the “W” staff which included ace Arlene Weldon, who went 9-2, and was backed by sophomore, Cindy Williams and freshman Sheryl Wurster. The Bearkitten defense made a habit of shutting down opposing teams to the delight of their fans. Catcher Linda Painter would routinely throw out runners trying to steal without leaving her crouched position. Outfielders B.J. Pratt, Vicki Milner, Rose Bishop, and Dianne Withrow all produced unfathomable numbers at the plate, but again it was their defense that often stood out. The corner outfielders would cut-off hits to the gap limiting opposing hitters to singles, and the brave who dared to take that extra base were shot down by the strong arms and sure-handed gloves in the field. These skills kept them in every game they played and contributed to an impressive seven shutouts on the season.
After a 2-5 finish to the 1974 season, there was a lot for the 1975 team to prove. But after an early season double-header split with defending national champion Southwest Missouri State, coaches Debbie Jones and Sherri Reeves knew they had something special. Following a 13-2 thrashing of the Bears in the second game of the double-header, Northwest would rattle off 11 straight wins and 12 of their last 14 including a sweep of Kansas State to close out the regular season.
Northwest would make a run to the MAIAW State tournament title game against the University of Missouri. After splitting the first two games, the teams matched up in a winner take all third game. Their hopes for a run to the College World Series were in question; however, the Bearkittens would jump out to an early 3-0 lead and hold on for the championship victory over the Tigers.
While at the World Series, Northwest would get off to a rough start dropping a heartbreaker to eventual third place finisher Michigan State, 3-1, before bouncing back with a decisive 14-3 win over Texas Women’s . Unfortunately, the season would come to an end in their next game against Northern Colorado. The Bearkittens finished the season with a 22-7 overall record, thus completing the most successful season in Northwest softball history.