Lack of scoring leads to team’s dismal outcome

By Bob Regan

Scoring runs wins ballgames. But the NIU softball team’s one run in 28 innings of play over the weekend left the Huskies winless in their own tournament.

Illinois State and Wisconsin-Parkside played the role of spoiler for NIU. The Redbirds claimed the tournament title in dominating fashion by compiling wins of 5-0, 2-0 over NIU and 13-6, 2-0 against UW-P. Parkside placed second in the tourney by downing NIU 5-1, 2-0.

The Huskies solo run came in Saturday’s loss to Parkside when Lori Reimer scored following an error by left fielder Tracy Burbach. The run gave NIU its only lead of the weekend, but was quickly dismissed when the Lady Rangers tied the game in the fifth inning and proceeded to orchestrate a four-run sixth inning.

Head softball coach Dee Abrahamson said her team has not had many practices prior to the weekend series and that was an indicator of the Huskies dismal play. ISU had been practicing for a couple of weeks and that aided the Redbirds in their quest of winning the tournament.

The Huskies lost six seniors when the spring 1989 season came to a close. One of the key contributors who said goodbye to NIU competition was All-American Jill Justin. Now the Huskies have to break in six freshman who look to fit into the Huskie mold.

“There’s a transition because they’re young and there’s so much to cover,” Abrahamson said. “We only see them (the players) three days a week and only once as a team because of class schedules. We need to spend more time working on some things.”

aving once relied on a potent offense, the NIU defense is feeling the pressure now and Abrahamson is well aware of the situation.

“I think we’ve got some things to work on,” Abrahamson said. “Our freshmem found out it (NCAA competition) is more of a mental game than it ever was in high school. In high school you can get away with the physical part. We made two mental mistakes in the last game in the first inning. Now it’s just a question of working on it.”

In Saturday’s first game, NIU pitcher Maria Leake suffered the loss to ISU. Kristen Vandenhouten took the defeat in the second game against Parkside. On Sunday, Vandenhoten held ISU to only two runs, but still suffered the loss. In the final game of the tourney, Huskie freshman Racheal Ortiz took the loss.

The final game ended on a controversial call at third base. An NIU player was initially called safe at third base, but when the call was appealed by Parkside’s head coach the call was reversed, therefore ending the inning and the game—as well as NIU’s chances of winning at least one game.

NIU’s weekend showing is in strong contrast to the strength the Huskies have shown over the last couple of years. Two seasons ago NIU made it to the college World Series before being defeated in the early games. And last season NIU put together a strong campaign, but was not invited to compete in post-season play.

Abrahamson and her entourage take to the road this coming weekend to compete in the Illinois Central Classic in Peoria, Ill. Teams playing in the ICC include Illinois Central, Bradley, Indiana State, Ball State and Southern Illinois-Carbondale.