Prep softball: Northwestern’s Ellie Peterson is ‘dominant’ pitcher and a ‘force at the plate’

The Tigers sophomore has an ERA of 0.75 and 238 strikeouts, while also batting .516 with 28 RBIs.

Pitcher throws a pitch.
Northwestern’s Ellie Peterson (4) fires a pitch in the first inning of the Tigers' playoff game with Barron in Brule on Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

BRULE — Northwestern pitcher Ellie Peterson was cruising through the Barron lineup for the second time Tuesday when she hit a speed bump.

Peterson was perfect through four innings, but in the fifth the Golden Bears’ Cameron Mulliken drew a walk and broke up her bid for a third perfect game and fifth no-hitter in Northwestern’s last six games.

Peterson responded by striking out the next two batters in the 9-1 win in the WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal. The Tigers’ sophomore allowed two hits and one run over seven innings and struck out 13 batters, but that’s what Peterson has done all season.

Through the regular season, Peterson finished 17-3 with a 0.75 ERA and 238 strikeouts, making her one of the top pitchers in Wisconsin, regardless of division.

Pitcher winds up.
Northwestern’s Ellie Peterson (4) winds up as she fires a pitch in the first inning of the Tiger playoff game with Barron in Brule on Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“She just throws flat-out hard,” Northwestern coach Scott Janigo said. “It’s hard for kids to catch up to, that’s pretty much it. She’s always around the plate and that team we just beat, this is our third time beating them. They know coming into this game what they’re going to face, so that definitely can be an intimidating factor.”


In fact, Barron’s one run Tuesday was the first time a team has scored a run on Peterson since May 5, when Cameron plated two in a 14-2 win for the Tigers.

Peterson credited her coaches and her dad, Jesse Peterson, with helping her improve her spin, speed and even her endurance.

“I take a little bit from everyone and I do a lot of weight training,” she said. “I got to ETS — a strength place in Duluth — and then I just take the extra time. My dad will sit on a bucket and catch me, he’s caught millions of pitches, and I just work out the kinks.”

Barron coach Kristin Sigurdson said Peterson is “one of the best pitchers” in the Heart O’ North Conference.

“She hits her spots, she’s got speed,” Sigurdson said. “We’re not the top hitting team, but she’s got that nice slight rise, which is always helpful, and her bunt coverage is great … And the whole game, the speed doesn’t slow down, so she’s got great endurance.”

Tigers catcher Emma Wennersten said Peterson’s strength isn’t just velocity, but an ability to read a batter’s preferences and force them into tough situations.

“Ellie is good at adjusting,” Wennersten said. “Every time we’ve got a good hitter at bat, she knows whether they like high one or they can’t hit outside. She’s good at adjusting to different hitter strengths. She’s also good at persevering — if she gets three balls, she’ll come back with three strikes.”

While Peterson can be “intimidating” to opposing hitters, she’s causing pitchers nightmares too.


Pitcher throws to first.
Northwestern’s Ellie Peterson (4) throws a ball to first base after fielding a ball in the third inning of the Tiger playoff game with Barron in Brule on Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“It’s not just that she’s dominant on the mound, she is also a force at the plate,” Sigurdsen said.

Peterson is batting .516 with 28 RBIs, including two against Barron, and eight extra-base hits, but her priority isn’t just getting on base.

“She’s a good situational hitter,” Wennersten said. “She knows when there are people on base, she’s got to hit it to a certain area to score. It’s more than just her getting on base, it’s more about helping the team move around.”

Her emergence, not just as a strong pitcher in conference, but as one of the best players in the area, may have been unexpected to some, but not to Peterson.

“I want to go out there, I want to throw hard and I want to strike people out,” Peterson said. “I feel like it may be a surprise to some, but I always knew I could do it — I knew I had it in me. I just had to put the work in, listen to my coaches and work with them.”

The Tigers picked up the No. 1 seed in their half of the WIAA Division 3 tournament and will play Somerset in the regional final Thursday in Brule.

With Peterson pitching and the Tigers’ hitting — Wennersten is hitting .432 with 24 RBIs and four other players are batting at least .350 with 13 RBIs — they believe they can do some damage.

“As long as we’re giving 100%, I feel like we might be able to make it to state,” Wennersten said. “That means diving for balls and working our defense if people get a hit off her — IF.”


While Peterson might be the driving force in a state tournament run, she knows she won’t go much of anywhere without her teammates with her.

“We work really well as a team,” Peterson said. “We don’t make too many mistakes, a couple here and there, but we always fight back. We always pick each other up no matter what. When I walked that girl, they helped me out — they gave me courage. Everyone helps me and I know we can do it. We all want to do it, we talk about it every day.”

Player slides under tag at home.
Northwestern’s Ashlyn Sutherland (15) slides safely under the tag of Barron’s Kylyn Duncan (2) in the second inning of the playoff game in Brule on Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Player dives for ball.
Northwestern’s Ashlyn Sutherland (15) lunges to catch a ball in the sixth inning of the Tiger playoff game with Barron in Brule on Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Players fields ball.
Northwestern’s Angela Brinker (24) fields a grounder in the fourth inning of the Tiger playoff game with Barron in Brule on Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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