Cruthers, Mallinder, Shumaker help Huskies sink Miami

By Zachary Bertram, Senior Sports Reporter

DeKALB – NIU softball (11-12, 2-1 MAC) opened up its three-game series against the Miami University RedHawks (14-10, 2-2 MAC) with a 3-2 win. Junior infielder Caitlyn Shumaker led the way for the Huskies, going 3-for-3 with two stolen bases, one run scored and one RBI.

NIU freshman utility player Danielle Stewart and Miami graduate pitcher Brianna Pratt each pitched complete games for their teams. Stewart gave up two earned runs on four hits in seven innings pitched, while striking out six batters and issuing two walks. Pratt allowed three earned runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. Pratt registered a season high 11 strikeouts while allowing just one walk. 

The Huskies started the scoring immediately with two runs in the top of the first inning. Freshman utility player Cara Cruthers notched a two-out RBI (runs batted in) single to score Shumaker and put the Huskies up 1-0. Senior utility player Sam Mallinder followed with an RBI triple to score Cruthers and give NIU a 2-0 lead. 

NIU added to the lead with another run in the top of the second inning. Shumaker hit an RBI single to score freshman outfielder Kiley Conner, putting the Huskies up 3-0. 

The RedHawks plated their first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning with a sacrifice fly from graduate catcher Riley Coyne to score sophomore outfielder Jenna Golembiewski, cutting the deficit to 3-1.

After the first two innings, Stewart and Pratt settled in and held the offenses at bay. No runs were scored between the third and sixth innings. The Huskies escaped a third-inning RedHawk scoring threat when Stewart struck out graduate infielder Allie Cummins and junior catcher Ellis Erickson threw out graduate utility player Maddi Banks at second base for an inning-ending double play. 

The RedHawks turned an inning-ending double play started by junior infielder Karli Spaid in the top of the sixth inning to keep the score at 3-1 heading into the seventh. 

Down to their final three outs, Golembiewski hit a lead-off home run for the RedHawks in the seventh inning, trimming the lead to 3-2. Following the homer, Stewart retired the next three Miami batters in order, sealing the 3-2 win for the Huskies. 

The Huskies continue their series against Miami with a doubleheader. Game one will begin at noon and game two will start at 2 p.m. Sunday in Oxford. 

The games will be streamed live on Chatterbox Sports YouTube. Live stats will be available via SideArm Stats.