Softball drops final three games at San Diego State Tournament


Wes Sanderson

Then-junior pitcher Delaney Ostrowski winds up a pitch during a game against Ball State University Wednesday April 6, 2022

By Alex Crowe, Assistant Sports Editor

DeKALB – NIU softball struggled in the pitcher’s circle during its final three games of the San Diego State Tournament, falling by identical final scores of 8-2 to the University of Notre Dame and California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Saturday and 11-1 to host San Diego State University (SDSU) Sunday. 

The Huskies finished the tournament with a 1-4 record, splitting games against Memphis University and Arizona State University Friday. 

Pitchers had a rough two days in the circle, surrendering 27 runs combined in the three contests. Junior pitcher Emily Dato pitched in all three games, totaling 4.1 innings pitched (IP), allowing eight earned runs (ER) on seven hits. Senior pitcher Delaney Ostrowski (3.3 IP, 3 ER), freshman pitcher Lilly Cassell (4 IP, 7 ER) and freshman pitcher Danielle Stewart (7 IP, 6 ER) also pitched over the three games.

Huskie pitchers also allowed 33 combined hits during the three-game stretch. 

The highlight for Huskie pitchers was Stewart, who struck out a season-high three batters in Sunday’s loss. 

The bats were quiet for NIU, as the offense mustered just five runs on 16 hits across the three games. Freshman catcher and infielder Trinity Jones Estrada led the Huskies at the plate with two RBIs (runs batted in) over the three games, both against Notre Dame. Freshman outfielder Ally Rodriguez and Stewart drove in the two NIU runs against CSUN. Senior infielder Kelly Walinksi had the lone RBI for NIU against SDSU.


Notre Dame grabbed the early lead, plating five runs in the second inning on Dato. The Huskies cut the deficit to 5-2 in the fourth inning when a base hit by Jones Estrada drove in junior catcher and outfielder Ellis Erickson and freshman utility player Rylie Hartman. 

That was as close as NIU would get. Notre Dame wasted no time extending its lead. The Irish brought three runs across in the very next inning to take an 8-2 lead. 

NIU searched for more offense in the remaining three innings, but were unable to bring another run across to seal an 8-2 victory for Notre Dame. 


NIU was able to hang with CSUN for four innings before the Matadors broke the game open in the fifth inning. 

To start the game, a CSUN double gave them the early lead. NIU was able to knot the game at 1-1 after a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez brought home junior outfielder Courtney James in the top of the third inning.

The back-and-forth middle innings saw CSUN regain the lead in the bottom half of the third frame to take a 2-1 lead. The Huskies had an answer on an RBI single by Stewart in the top of the fourth inning to even the score at 2-2. 

Those two runs were all NIU would get, as CSUN broke the game open from the fourth inning on. Two fourth-inning runs extended the CSUN lead to 4-2. Four more Matador runs in the fifth inning helped secure the final score of 8-2. 


The Huskies struggled in all aspects of Sunday’s tournament-finale, surrendering 11 runs on 14 hits and only posting one run on just six hits. 

The rough game started in NIU’s favor. Base hits from Rodriguez and freshman utility player Cara Cruthers led to a sacrifice bunt by Walinski, which plated Rodriguez for a 1-0 lead. 

The game broke down in the third inning for NIU. SDSU posted four runs in the third inning to grab a 4-1 lead. Three fifth-inning runs and four sixth inning runs by SDSU put the mercy rule into effect, ending the game in the sixth inning at 11-1. 


Despite a tough opening weekend, head coach Christina Sutcliffe said the team is ready to get home and get to work.

“We are excited to get back to DeKalb and get to work,” Sutcliffe said via NIU Athletics. “This team has a ton of potential, and we are excited to watch ‘Team 65’ grow and develop.”

The Huskies return to the field to open the Liberty Tournament for a double header against Marshal University and Liberty University at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Friday.