Softball takes series win over Toledo

Khobi Price

DeKALB — The softball team won its season series against the University of Toledo, defeating the Rockets in two of three games Friday and Saturday at Mary M. Bell Field to go 7-7 in Mid-American Conference play.

The Huskies won the first game of the series 6-5 behind clutch hitting. All six of NIU’s runs were scored with two outs. NIU was unable to overcome a an early five run deficit in the second game of the series, falling to Toledo 8-3.

The Huskies won the rubber match 4-1 behind sophomore pitcher MacKenzie Bryan’s performance on the mound.

Bryan only allowed one earned run and three walks to go along with five strikeouts in seven innings pitched. Bryan surrendered three runs on six hits in two innings pitched against the Rockets in the opening game of the series.

“It was nice to see her bounce back from [game one],” Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe said to NIU Athletics. “Obviously, to come back with a new mentality [in game three] and shut them down, allowing only one run, was huge.”

 

Friday – NIU 6, Toledo 5

The Rockets opened the scoring for the series with two unearned runs in the top of the first inning.

NIU responded in the bottom of the inning when senior infielder Abby Howlett hit an RBI single to center field to bring in first-year outfielder Katie Keller to reduce the Huskies deficit to 2-1.

Toledo scored another unearned run in the top of the second, taking a 3-1 lead. NIU tied the game in the bottom of the third. With two outs and no runners on base, sophomore catcher Kira Mickelson reached first with a single up the middle.

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In the next at-bat, Howlett smacked a two RBI home run to right field, bringing the score to 3-3. Senior outfielder Katie Lamich’s plate appearance in the bottom of the fifth was the game’s deciding at-bat.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Lamich hit a three RBI double to left center, bringing in senior infielder Dominique Greeno, first-year outfielder Amberly Rodriguez and senior outfielder Jessica Rio to give the Huskies their first lead of the game, 6-3.

“That was huge for us,” Sutcliffe said. “We were getting runners in scoring position a fair amount, we just couldn’t get the hit even with one out. For her to come through was big. I think all our runs might have come with two outs. So big clutch hitting with two outs.”

The Rockets added two runs in the top of the sixth, but weren’t able to score any more, giving NIU a 6-5 victory.

 

Saturday game one – Toledo 8, NIU 3

The Huskies dropped the second game of the series after falling behind 5-0 in the second inning. NIU scored its first run of the game in the bottom of the third when Rio scored off a fielder’s choice to bring the team’s deficit to 5-1.

A two RBI homer in the top of the fourth gave Toledo a 7-1 advantage that the Huskies didn’t overcome. Mickelson hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning while Rodriguez scored off a Greeno ground out to shortstop for NIU’s final run of the game.  

 

Saturday game two – NIU 4, Toledo 1

The third game of the series witnessed a pitcher’s duel between Bryan and Toledo sophomore pitcher Erin Hunt. Neither team scored a run through the first four innings and neither pitched allowed more than three hits in those innings.

“Compared to the other two games, we weren’t expecting what happened in game three after all the hitters seeing the pitchers so much for it to be a pitcher’s duel,” Sutcliffe said. “Hunt did a really nice job against us after seeing us that many times so kudos to her.”

The Rockets scored their first and lone run of the game in the top of the fifth with a senior infielder Katie Cozy solo home run to right field. Lamich opened the bottom of the fifth with a double down the left field line.

Senior outfielder Jenny Van Geertry singled up the middle and advanced to second on a throw, bringing in Lamich to tie the game at one.

During the next at-bat, junior outfielder Kayla Scaperotta hit an RBI single down the left field line to bring in Van Geertry and give NIU a 2-1 advantage.

Senior infielder Sam Schmidt hit a 2 RBI homer in the bottom of the sixth to seal the victory for the Huskies and give them the season series win.

“When she can center the ball, it’s going to go,” Sutcliffe said. “She was due for one of those. She’s provided an awesome spark plug for us in down in the bottom of the order.”

The Huskies return to action Wednesday at Mary M. Bell Field when NIU host Loyola in a doubleheader. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.