‘Cardiac Kids’ rally twice; break DePaul’s win streak

By Jeff Kirik

If the NIU softball team plays many more games like it played Thursday, the team’s coaches and fans might develop heart trouble.

The Huskies escaped with a doubleheader sweep over the Blue Demons of DePaul, but had to do it in thrilling fashion. NIU, 17-15, produced rallies in the bottom of the seventh inning in both games to grab the wins and stop a DePaul eight-game winning streak. The Blue Demons fell to 22-13 after the losses.

The twin bill, which was played at Katz Field in DeKalb because of a saturated Huskie Field, started out ominously for the hosting Huskies.

NIU hurler Shari Edwards gave up three runs on five hits to DePaul in the first inning of the opener.

“She was warming up on another mound,” NIU Coach Dee Abrahamson said. “When she got to the mound (of the playing field which was used) she felt like she couldn’t get loose.”

It did not take long for Edwards to warm up though, as she shut down DePaul on two hits the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the NIU offense started to perk.

The Huskies tallied two runs in the bottom of the fourth when shortstop Amy Veld doubled in a pair. The score stayed at 3-2 until the seventh inning.

“It (the three run deficit) didn’t get us down,” center fielder Jill Justin said. “We were hitting the ball hard and we knew they had an inexperienced pitcher.”

The drama started when NIU second baseman Laura Peterson reached first base on an error by the DePaul shortstop. It looked as though the rally might be short-lived as the next two batters made outs while only advancing Peterson to second.

owever, Justin, who entered the game hitting .500, stepped to the plate with the game on the line. She then took the first two pitches for called strikes.

“I was just trying to get on base,” Justin said. “I knew if I was swinging hard I would probably pop it up so I was just trying to make contact.”

And make contact she did. Justin lambasted the next ball over a scrambling right fielder’s head. The sophomore slugger wound up at third with a game-tying triple on a ball that would have been well over the fence for a home run at Huskie Field.

Fueled with new life and momentum, the Huskies ended the game in the next at-bat. Designated player Heidi Hutchison then grounded a single up the middle to score Justin and hand DePaul a 4-3 loss.

NIU picked up in the second game where it left off at the end of the first game. Behind the pitching of Beth Schrader, the Huskies held DePaul scoreless for the first five innings.

In the meantime, the Huskies had at least two base runners in the first three innings, but could only manufacture one run. That run came when left fielder Lynn Lacy doubled in Hutchison.

“I thought she pitched really well,” Abrahamson said of Schrader, who was nursing a sore knee she bruised against Western Illinois Tuesday. “She said her knee wasn’t bothering her and the way she pitched it didn’t appear to.”

DePaul rallied to tie the game in the sixth inning but that just set the stage for more Huskie dramatics.

Pat Faletti and Justin hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Once again it was Hutchison at the plate in the clutch situation. Hutchison grounded the ball to the second baseman who tossed to the shortstop to get a force play at second. However, in an attempt to get a double play, the shortstop overthrew the first baseman allowing Faletti to score the winning run in a 2-1 decision.