Huskies, Beacons split weekday doubleheader

NIU+freshman+utility+player+Danielle+Stewart+%2822%29+reaches+for+the+ball+as+junior+catcher+Ellis+Erickson+%2823%29+passes+it+to+her+at+home+plate+during+NIU+Softballs+home+game+against+Central+Michigan+University+March+31+at+Mary+M.+Bell+Field.+%28Tim+Dodge+%7C+Northern+Star%29

Tim Dodge

NIU freshman utility player Danielle Stewart (22) reaches for the ball as junior catcher Ellis Erickson (23) passes it to her at home plate during NIU Softball’s home game against Central Michigan University March 31 at Mary M. Bell Field. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

By Eddie Miller, Assistant Sports Editor

DeKALB – NIU softball (18-18, 8-6 MAC) faced off against the Valparaiso University Beacons (5-29, 1-12 MVC) splitting wins in a doubleheader. Poor hitting hurt NIU in the first game, but the Huskies bounced back with seven runs in the second game. 

GAME ONE 

Shaky pitching and one hit as a team cost NIU a 3-0 loss to Valparaiso in game one. Valparaiso fifth-year infielder Taylor Herschbach finished with two hits, two runs and an RBI. 

Finishing with five batters walked and giving up three runs off five hits, NIU freshman pitcher Lily Cassell opened the game for the Huskies. Cassell pitched six innings before getting replaced by junior pitcher Claire Norred. Norred closed the game by walking one batter and giving up one hit in one inning pitched. 

Senior pitcher Easton Seib pitched a complete game for the Beacons. Seib gave up one hit with no runs allowed and struck out four batters. 

Valparaiso put the first runs on the board in the top of the first inning with an RBI single from junior outfielder Regi Hecker, scoring Herschbach. In the top of the third inning, Herschbach extended Valparaiso’s lead to 2-0 after stealing home plate. 

Valparaiso sealed the 3-0 win when Herschbach cracked an RBI single, scoring junior catcher Autumn Acord.  

GAME TWO  

Efficient hitting led to the Huskies taking game two 7-1 over the Beacons. Five Huskies logged an RBI, including a home run from freshman utility player Danielle Stewart.

Junior pitcher Emily Dato pitched a complete game for the Huskies, allowing just one run on five hits and six strikeouts. 

Junior pitcher Caitlyn Kowalski started on the mound for the Beacons until she was replaced by sophomore pitcher Kaiah Fenters in the third inning. Pitching part of the third inning, Fenters walked two batters and gave up three runs on two hits before being replaced by Kowalski. 

Kowalski pitched four full innings, allowing four hits, four runs and five walks. Freshman pitcher Cadence Augustine came in during the bottom of the sixth inning and closed the game allowing no runs and two hits. 

The Beacons got off to a quick start with an RBI double from Hecker that brought senior infielder Lauren Kehlenbrink in for a 1-0 Valparaiso lead. 

NIU bounced back in the bottom of the first inning when freshman utility player Cara Cruthers notched an RBI single, scoring senior infielder Kelly Walinski. Junior infielder 

Caitlyn Shumaker gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning after an RBI double that scored freshman utility player Emma Giese. 

In the bottom of the third inning, freshman outfielder Fiona Crane extended NIU’s lead to 3-1 with an RBI double, scoring Stewart. On the next pitch, NIU went up 5-1 with both Crane and Cruthers scoring off an RBI single from senior infielder Izzy Smith.

Stewart added to the Huskies’ lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, rocketing her solo home run to left-center field and putting NIU up 6-1. 

NIU sealed the 7-1 victory in the bottom of the sixth inning when freshman outfielder Brianna Pechman scored off an RBI double from sophomore outfielder Kacie Quick. 

UP NEXT

The Huskies resume MAC play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mary M. Bell Field, where they will face off against Ohio University in a doubleheader. Live stats will be available on SidearmSports