Softball takes 4 of 5 in the Billiken Spring Tournament


Northern Star File Photo

Softball takes 4 of 5 in the Billiken Spring Tournament

By Khobi Price

DeKALB — The softball team ended its five-game losing streak and won four of its five games in the Billiken Spring Tournament Thursday-Saturday in St, Louis, Missouri. The Huskies totaled 43 hits and 27 runs in the tournament, moving to 13-14 on the season.


Thursday – NIU 8, Saint Louis University 3

NIU opened the tournament with an 8-3 victory against the Saint Louis Billikins. The Huskies struck first scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. 

Junior infielder Anne Allen and first year outfielder Katie Keller came home after a fielding error. Senior outfielder Katie Lamich smacked her first career home run to left field to give NIU its third run of the game in the second inning.

The Billikins scored their first run of the contest when junior outfielder Maria Balistreri scored off a first-year designated hitter Allie Herron double to reduce their deficit to 3-1.

Keller scored off a first-year infielder Bianca Barone Allen to give NIU a 4-1 lead in the fourth. Allen scored off a Keller RBI single to put the Huskies up 5-1 before Keller was brought home by a senior outfielder Jenny Van Geertry RBI single.

Keller later hit a 2-RBI home run in the sixth, for her first career homer, to bring in Allen and ice the game for the Huskies. The Geneva, Illinois native finished hitting 3-3 with 3 RBIs and scored four runs.

“Lamich and Keller picked a great time for their first career home runs,” Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe said to NIU Athletics. “We needed an offensive boost and I’m happy they were able to provide it. [Sophomore pitcher Mackenzie Bryan] did a nice job in the circle today and battled through her complete game.”


Friday morning – NIU 2, University of Nebraska at Omaha 1

The Huskies won their first Friday game 2-1 off a first year infielder Hannah Goerke walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh.

Omaha scored the first run of the contest in the top of the third on an RBI double. Van Geertry tied the game at one with a solo home run in the fourth. Neither team scored in the following two innings.

First-year outfielder Kara Apato singled up the middle with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Apato advanced to second on a senior infielder Abby Howlett sacrifice bunt. Apato scored the game deciding run off Goerke’s double to give NIU its second straight victory of the tournament.

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“It was nice to see our offense break through and carry us this afternoon,” Sutcliffe said. “For [Goerke]’s first career collegiate hit to be a walk off is a pretty special moment.”

Senior pitcher Alex Frenz recorded the win, pitching a complete game. She allowed one run and three hits while striking out three batters.


Friday afternoon – NIU 8, University of Northern Colorado 3

The Huskies struck first against Northern Colorado when Barone smacked a 2-RBI triple to right center in the top of the first inning, bringing in Van Geertry and Allen.

The Bears scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the first when Northern Colorado first-year infielder Dani Young knocked an RBI single to bring in senior infielder Cheyenne Talmadge to reduce their deficit to 2-1.

Sophomore catcher Kira Mickleson smacked a solo home run to left center field in the fourth to give the Huskies a 3-1 advantage. First-year outfielder Amberly Rodriguez pushed NIU’s lead to 4-1 after she scored on an Allen RBI single in the fifth.

The Huskies’ lead ballooned to seven after a 2-RBI double and Allen 2-RBI single in the sixth. Northern Colorado scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to finish the scoring for the contest, giving NIU an 8-3 victory.

Bryan improved to 7-6 on the season after allowing two runs and six hits in five inning pitched as the Huskies picked up their third win of the season.


Saturday morning – NIU 5, Detroit Mercy 3

NIU’s defense locked down in the final five innings of its fourth game of the tournament, conceding only three hits and not allowing a run after the second inning of its 5-3 win against Detroit Mercy.

The Titans jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after a Detroit Mercy first-year outfielder McKenna Tanguay 2-RBI triple.

Howlett scored the Huskies first run of the game in the top of the third on a fielder’s choice. Rodriguez came home on a Keller ground out to second base to reduce NIU’s deficit to 3-2.

Keller continued her tear hitting two RBI doubles, one in the fifth and seventh inning, to give the Huskies their first lead at 4-3. Allen scored the final run of the game on a fielder’s choice to give NIU its fourth consecutive victory of the tournament.

Keller finished with 3 RBIs on 3-4 hitting. Frenz picked up the win, striking out three batters and allowing one hit in two innings pitched.


Saturday afternoon – Southeast Missouri State University 14, NIU 4

The Huskies would like to forget their final matchup against the Missouri State Redhawks. NIU finished the tournament with a 14-4 loss. The Redhawks scored in all five innings and won by the run-ahead rule.  

“It was great having a successful weekend going 4-1,” Sutcliffe said. “We look forward to moving into conference and seeing where the next part of our season will take us. Now the real work begins.”

NIU will now start Mid-American Conference play 2 p.m. Friday against the University of Buffalo Bulls in Buffalo, New York.