NIU slaughters Loyola

By Jeff Kirik

Even though a doubleheader was scheduled, the NIU softball team decided to take batting practice Thursday against Loyola.

Showcasing their offense for all home fans to see, the Huskies swung their way to a pair of 10-0 wins over the Ramblers, 4-9, in NIU’s home opener.

owever, 14-14 NIU did not just hit the ball. The team used its all-around game in both wins, smacking 21 hits, committing no errors and getting strong pitching from all three of its pitchers.

The mound standout of the afternoon was NIU hurler Beth Schrader. She moved her record to 9-6 by tossing a one-hitter in the first game.

“I was really hitting my targets,” said Schrader, who lost her bid for a no-hitter with two outs in the fourth inning. “My outside curve was working especially well. They (the Ramblers) were all stepping out of the box and I was getting my pitches across.”

While Schrader was overpowering Loyola on the mound, a host of other Huskies were overpowering the Ramblers from the batter’s box. Scoring at least one run in eight of the nine innings in which they batted.

The top three batters in the order were especially hazardous to the weak Loyola pitching. Center fielder Jill Justin boosted her season average to .537 by going 4-for-4 in the second slot of the batting order. Meanwhile, leadoff hitter Pat Faletti and third-place hitter Heidi Hutchison each contributed three hits and three runs batted in apiece.

“It was difficult to adjust (to the slow pitching) as a team but we did a good job. We wanted to do well to get the weekend off,” said Faletti, who added that the coaches promised the team a practice-free weekend if it won both games.

“It’s not as easy as it looks to make that adjustment (from fast to slow pitching),” NIU Coach Dee Abrahamson said.

Abrahamson said she was pleased by the efforts of each of her pitchers. Freshman Maria Leake started the second game of the doubledip and worked out of bases-loaded first-inning jam by striking out the side. Leake went on to give up one hit and strike out six in her three innings pitched.

Sophomore Shari Edwards pitched the final two innings by retiring six straight after the first batter she faced singled. Schrader struck out nine and Edwards struck out four to bring NIU’s doubleheader strikeout total to 19.

The Huskies set up a road block when the Ramblers did manage to hit the ball, making it next to difficult for Loyola to get on base, much less score.

“When they did hit the ball, our defense played well,” Abrahamson said. “Everybody got to play even though there wasn’t much action for the people in the outfield. I’d say the only thing we could have asked for was to play on Tuesday (a rainout against Bradley).”

NIU will now look ahead to another home date against Western Illinois Tuesday.

“It was a good way to open the season,” Abrahamson said. “We’ve got Western Illinois on Tuesday and we’d like to come out and do the same thing.”