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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Softball splits Saturday action, wins series over Toledo

Huskies walk off Rockets in extra innings
Totus Tuus Keely
Sophomore pitcher/utility Danielle Stewart swings and hits a homerun Friday at Mary M. Bell Field. Stewart hit a home run and pitched five innings as the Huskies split Saturday’s doubleheader with the University of Toledo. (Totus Tuus Keely | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU softball (12-25, 5-10 MAC) split Saturday’s doubleheader action against the University of Toledo (19-16, 10-5 MAC) to take the season series over the Rockets.

“Winning the series is what we came into the weekend to do,” said NIU softball head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Not getting the sweep is a little disappointing when we had a chance to do it. Just got to figure out how to win the games that we’re in down the stretch, but overall, we had a great weekend.”

Sophomore pitcher/utility Danielle “Dee Dee” Stewart started in the circle for the Huskies in the first game. Stewart held Toledo scoreless for the opening four frames. In the second game, she hit her fifth home run of the season and third in the past week.

“(I’m) just allowing myself to relax and trust that if I don’t get it done, the person behind me or the rest of the lineup’s going to get it done,” Stewart said.


Toledo broke onto the scoreboard first with a home run into left field by senior outfielder Lauren Erickson in the fifth inning. One inning later, NIU freshman middle infielder/outfielder Alana Powell was walked on bases loaded, sending Stewart home for the tying run. Both teams combined for just one hit in the seventh inning to force extra innings.

After senior pitcher Claire Norred worked a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the eighth, sophomore catcher/utility Trinity Jones Estrada launched an RBI double into left field. Jones Estrada’s shot evaded the clutches of the Rocket left fielder, allowing Stewart to make her second trip across home plate for the game’s winning run.

“I just knew I had to believe in myself,” Jones Estrada said. “And I told myself to keep my hands above the ball, tried to drive left and that’s exactly what happened.”

The victory boosted NIU to its longest winning streak of the season at three games.


Senior catcher/outfielder Ellis Erickson got the action started early with a leadoff double on Toledo’s first pitch of the game. Two plays later, Erickson crossed home off an error for the first run of the contest. Stewart followed with a two-run shot into center field to extend NIU to a 3-0 lead after one inning.

Toledo quickly responded with two runs off three consecutive hits in the second inning, leading an NIU pitching change from sophomore pitcher Lily Cassell to senior pitcher Emily Dato.

From there, the MAC rivals exchanged one-run innings. NIU led 5-4 by the end of the sixth inning. Norred, who replaced Dato during the fifth inning, then surrendered five hits and two runs to give Toledo their first lead of the game. NIU found itself unable to respond, leading to its 6-5 defeat and the end of its short-lived winning streak.

After the game, NIU honored its seven graduating seniors as part of its Senior Weekend celebration: Dato, Erickson, Norred, senior outfielder Courtney James, fifth-year first baseman Delaney Ostrowski, fifth-year middle infielder Isabel Shafer and senior infielder Caitlyn Shumaker.

The Huskies have a short turnaround ahead as they face Western Michigan University for a doubleheader starting noon CT Tuesday at Ebert Field in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Streams for both games will be available on Bronco All-Access. Live statistics will be presented by StatBroadcast.

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