Softball opens conference play with doubleheader split

By Eddie Miller, Sports Reporter

DeKALB – Mid-American Conference play began for NIU Softball (10-12, 1-1 MAC) Sunday against the University of Akron Zips (11-9, 1-1 MAC) in a doubleheader. 

The Huskies fell short in extra innings in game one, then took a low-scoring game two to earn a doubleheader split.


Shaky pitching bit NIU in an extra-inning 12-9 loss in the first game. An early lead and 12 hits kept the Huskies in the game despite two pitching changes. 

After previously being down 7-3, Akron freshman infielder Brooke Sivek evened the game 9-9 at the top of the seventh inning when she scored on a throwing error from freshman utility player Cara Cruthers. The Huskies closed the seventh inning scoreless leading to extra innings. 

The Zips sealed the game when sophomore outfielder Autumn Bailey, Sivek and redshirt junior outfielder Tiffany Stevens scored off a throwing error by Cruthers bringing the score to 12-9. 

Junior pitcher Claire Norred started the game for the Huskies before being replaced by junior pitcher Emily Dato in the sixth inning. Freshman pitcher Lily Cassell closed out the game for the Huskies after replacing Dato in the eighth inning. 

Norred finished the game pitching five innings, allowing eight runs with 29 batters faced. Dato pitched two innings where she walked four batters and allowed three runs. Cassell closed the game allowing one run in her one inning of work. 

Akron redshirt junior infielder Jaiden Bryant put the game’s first run on the board in the second inning with an RBI (run batted in) triple allowing sophomore infielder Alexis Campbell to score. Redshirt junior catcher Laurel DeVoe extended Akron’s lead to 2-0 after an RBI single. 

The Huskies responded in the bottom of the second inning with freshman outfielder Brianna Pechman scoring off an Akron error. Sophomore outfielder Kacie Quick then doubled, bringing Cruthers to home plate. NIU finished the inning with a 3-2 lead following a bunt from junior infielder Caitlyn Shumaker that scored Quick. 

Bryant tied the game 3-3 for the Zips early in the third inning with an RBI single that scored freshman outfielder Meagen Lee. 

In the bottom of the third, NIU regained the lead, scoring on back-to-back pitches. Senior pitcher Delaney Ostrowski singled, bringing in senior infielder Kelly Walinski for the RBI. Cruthers extended the lead to 5-3 with an RBI single, scoring Ostrowski. 

In the top of the fourth inning freshman outfielder Ally Rodriguez scored off of an Akron error to first base. Shumaker then scored on a bunt by junior outfielder Courtney James to stretch the lead to 7-3. 

DeVoe broke the Zips’ cold streak in the fifth inning with an RBI double, leading Campbell to score. The Zips then narrowed the deficit to 7-6 when Stevens tripled to score both DeVoe and freshman infielder Abigail Scheller. Junior infielder Kalli Macintosh-Houlder tied the game with an RBI single, Stevens scoring. 

Akron took the 8-7 lead at the top of the sixth when Bryant doubled to left field, bringing in redshirt junior outfielder Molly McChesney. The Huskies struck back in the bottom half of the inning to take a 9-8 lead when Walinski singled to score both Shumaker and Rodriguez.


Four stolen bases helped NIU in the second game 4-2 over Akron. Both teams combined for just nine total hits. 

Freshman utility player Danielle Stewart opened the game pitching for the Huskies. Cassell ended up closing the game for the Huskies after subbing in for Stewart in the sixth inning. 

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning. Shumaker tripled for NIU’s first hit of the game, then Rodriguez singled to send Shumaker home giving NIU a 1-0 lead.

Later in the fourth inning, Stewart was walked leading to Rodriguez scoring after a throwing error from Scheller. On the next pitch, Stewart extended the Huskies’ lead to 3-0 by scoring on a wild pitch from Akron freshman pitcher Haley Croyle. 

In the top of the sixth inning, Stevens put Akron on the board with an RBI double, scoring junior infielder Carley Auten and DeVoe.

The Huskies went into the bottom of the sixth inning up 3-2. After stealing second base, Shumaker reached third on a throwing error from Scheller. On the next pitch, NIU sealed the 4-2 victory when Walinski grounded out to first base, allowing Shumaker to score.

NIU will continue MAC play at 2 p.m. Friday. The Huskies will face Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Live stats will be available on SidearmSports.