Softball splits home opener against Ball State

Khobi Price

DeKALB — The softball team split its 2019 season home opener against Ball State University Tuesday at Mary M. Bell Field.

The Huskies won the first game of the doubleheader after taking a six-run lead in the fourth inning and fighting off the Cardinals’ comeback attempt in the sixth and seventh. Junior infielder Anne Allen and first-year outfielder Katie Keller combined for 7-7 at the plate, four runs scored and four RBIs.

Sophomore pitcher Mackenzie Bryan had a no-hit bid through 5.2 innings in the victory and finished within two hits allowed, two earned runs allowed, six walks and eight strikeouts through seven innings.

In the second game of the day, NIU relinquished a five-run lead and fell to Ball State after the Cardinals scored two in the ninth inning. The Huskies gave up 13 hits in the contest after allowing two in the first game.


Game One – NIU 7, Ball State 6

After 2.5 innings without a run scored, the Huskies opened the scoring for the game with three runs in the bottom of the third.

Senior outfielder Jenny Van Geertry hit a single to center field to give NIU its first runner on base of the inning. In the next at-bat, Allen smacked a double down the left-field line, advancing Van Geertry to third.

Keller blasted a 2 RBI triple to center field to bring in Allen and Van Geertry. First-year infielder Bianca Barone brought in Keller with a sacrifice bunt and reached first base safely to give the Huskies their third run of the inning.

NIU continued to pile on the runs in the fourth. After being walked with two outs in the bottom of the inning, Van Geertry advanced to second on an Allen single to left field.

Related: Softball drops 2 of 3 against Ohio University

Keller hit a 2 RBI double, bringing in Van Geetry and advancing Allen to third, to give NIU a 4-0 lead. Bianca Barone hit a 2 RBI single to center field to give the Huskies their largest lead of the game, 6-0.

Bryan’s no-hit bid ended in the top of the sixth. With two outs and the bases loaded, the Ball State first-year pitcher hit a 3 RBI double to left center to reduce the Cardinals deficit to 6-4.

Allen hit an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to put NIU up 7-4, but Ball State continued its comeback in the top of the seventh when first-year infielder Mackenzie McCarty smacked a 2 RBI homer to make it a one-run game with two outs in the innings.

Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe told NIU Athletics Allen has put together an impressive run.

“[Allen] absolutely carried us today,” Sucliffe said. “That’s the great thing about this team: somebody different can carry us every day, and today was her day. Honestly, she’s having a great year so far.”

Bryan picked up the victory and retired the next batter to give the Huskies a 7-6 victory. NIU tallied seven runs on 11 hits for the game.


Game Two – Ball State 7, NIU 5

For the second game in a row, the third inning was a favorable one for the Huskies. First-year outfielder Kara Apato opened the inning with a single.

Van Geertry hit a double to right center field, advancing Apato to third. Allen smacked an RBI single to right field, bringing in Apato and advancing Van Geertry to third. Allen stole second, and Keller was walked to load the bases with no outs.

Van Geertry scored on a pass ball, advancing the other bases runners. Keller and Allen scored on a fielder’s choice to give NIU a 4-0 advantage. The Huskies scored one unearned run to conclude the inning and their scoring for the game.

Ball State scored five runs through the fourth and sixth innings to tie the game at 5. Neither team scored for the following two innings.

Sutcliffe said her team put up a fight but fell short in the second game.

“You’re going to beat Ball State by outhitting them,” Sutcliffe said. “That’s just the fact of the matter. We hung with them, but we just couldn’t get the hit when it mattered.”

Bryan conceded back-to-back solo homers in the top of the ninth to give the Cardinals a 7-5 lead. NIU wasn’t able to tally a run in the bottom of the inning, dropping the final game to Ball State, 7-5.