Panthers rally late to steal two contests from Huskies

By Carl Ackerman

With the taste of victory on the tip of its tongues, NIU’s softball team was poisoned with a mouthful of disappointment on two late-inning comebacks from guest Adelphi University Monday.

NIU (10-15-2) surrendered five runs after a 4-1 lead in game one. The outburst came after two outs in the seventh inning and gave AU a 6-4 win. The Huskies led 2-1 in game two until AU scored one in the sixth inning of the game which ended 2-2.

“Certainly, part of our downfall has been in the late innings. We have the ability to come back, but we didn’t. Our pitching and defense hasn’t been able to keep us in the game. I thought we should have won,” said coach Dee Abrahamson.

In the first 10 pitches of the sixth inning, AU exploded for five runs on five hits and a crucial error for a 6-4 lead. The two-out rally started with a single to center by Debra Larson. Dionne Lembo smacked a shot down the leftfield line, and a bloop single to rightfield loaded the bases. The next batter sent a grounder to NIU’s second baseman Kim Crotinger, whose error resulted in two runs. The Panthers took the lead on a two-run single to center and added an insurance run with another single down the rightfield line.

“At home, we need to be more aggressive. This is our field, our team and we need to play like that and win,” said Abrahamson, whose team is winless at home this season (0-2-2).

NIU was up 2-0 early and added a run in the fourth on a fielders choice with the bases loaded. AU cut the lead to 3-1 in the fifth, but NIU’s Lori Reimer answered that with a basehit up the middle to score Ree Zenner, who reached base on a two-out double.

AU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning of game one. The lead-off batter walked, stole second and scored after two sacrifices. The Huskies doubled that score in the second inning on a two-out rally. After an infield single and a hits- batsman, Jean Leahy doubled to left to put NIU up 2-1.

Once again, the strike of the Panthers occurred. A walk to Jennifer Cardone coupled with an error by the catcher and a sacrifice fly put the tying run on third. AU’s Lesley Perkins bashed a single to right which scored Cardone. Both teams threatened in the final inning but neither could break the tie.

NIU travels to Iowa (25-15) today for a 3 p.m. doubleheader.