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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Shumaker walks off Kent State to snap losing skid

Stewart strikes out 12 in career day
Totus Tuus Keely
Senior catcher/outfielder Ellis Erickson rounds third base in an NIU softball home game against Kent State University on Friday. Erickson scored the game-winning run to seal the Huskies’ 3-2 walk-off victory over the Golden Flashes. (Totus Tuus Keely | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU softball (8-19, 2-5 MAC) entered its MAC home opener Friday as the loser of its past six games, including a 17-5 trouncing in its home opener just three days earlier. After falling into a 2-1 deficit against the MAC’s second-ranked team, the streak seemed in danger of growing to seven.

But senior infielder Caitlyn Shumaker had other plans.

Down 2-1, with two outs and bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, the former University of North Dakota transfer hit a two-RBI single to bring home the game’s tying and winning runs, completing NIU’s 3-2 comeback against the Golden Flashes of Kent State University (17-9, 3-1 MAC) at Mary M. Bell Field.

The Huskies secured their first home win of the 2024 campaign and nixed their own six-game losing skid. NIU also snapped the Golden Flashes’ 10-game winning streak while dealing them their first conference defeat.

Sophomore pitcher/utility Danielle “Dee Dee” Stewart recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts and pitched her fourth complete game of the season. The 2023 All-MAC First Team choice gave up six hits against the 28 batters she faced. 

“This team knows (that) if we have a chance to win in the seventh, they can pull through,” said NIU softball head coach Christina Sutcliffe via NIU Athletics. “Dee Dee was fantastic on the mound and was supported by great defensive plays throughout the game. It took many Huskies to rally in the seventh, and I’m proud of them for staying patient and battling.”

Kent State wasted no time in scoring, as senior first baseman/catcher Emily Lippe sacrificed herself with a line out, allowing junior utility Savannah Wing to deposit the game’s first run. The Golden Flashes struck again three innings later with graduate student infielder Julia Mazanec’s fourth-inning home run.

NIU broke through in the fifth inning when junior middle infielder/outfielder Jenna Turner doubled to send senior catcher/outfielder Ellis Erickson home.

Turner and Erickson shined once more as the scoring runners for Shumaker’s game-changing play. Turner was the first to reach home to tie the game. Erickson followed close behind with the game-winning run.


The Huskies will see the Golden Flashes twice more this weekend as they finish the series with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at Mary M. Bell Field. Both games will be streamed on NIU All-Access. Live statistics can be accessed on SIDEARM Sports.

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