Softball closes out series against Broncos with a win


Junior pitcher Tara Thacker pitching during a March 31 game against the Bowling Green Falcons. The Huskies won their series against Western Michigan University. 

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB — Junior pitcher Keegan Hayes pitched two out of three games, both wins, for NIU as they defeated the Western Michigan University Broncos.

Hayes pitched four innings in Friday’s 6-5 Huskie (20-16, 8-6 Mid-American Conference) win in the first game of the series before the Broncos won 7-2 (16-23, 4-11 MAC) in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.

Hayes pitched four and 2/3 innings in Saturday’s rubber match, giving up one run in the 4-1 win for NIU.

Friday’s game one — NIU 6, Broncos 5

Alaynie Woollard, junior catcher and infielder, doubled to center field in the top of the fourth inning to score senior first baseman Kayti Grable to give the Huskies a 6-3 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Broncos senior utilityman Abby Stoner hit a home run that scored her and junior outfielder Aspen Williams, cutting NIU’s lead to 6-5.

Junior pitcher Tara Thacker threw the final five outs of the game to pick up her third save of the season.

Hayes (5-2) pitched four innings for the win, while she gave up two earned runs on three hits, with three strikeouts and a walk.

Sophomore pitcher Alex Frenz pitched an inning and 1/3, giving up three earned runs on four hits.

Woollard went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a walk.

Sophomore outfielder Katie Lamich was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a walk.

The Huskies totaled 11 hits to the Broncos seven hits.

Friday’s game two — Broncos 7, NIU 2

Home runs from Grable and sophomore outfielder Jenny Van Geertry were all the offense that the Huskies could muster in Friday’s second matchup with the Broncos.

Junior pitcher Anissa Sanchez (5-5) threw innings for Western Michigan. The pitcher gave up two earned runs on five hits, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Thacker (5-8) took the loss, pitching three innings and giving up two earned runs on six hits, with two walks and a strikeout.

Junior pitcher Emma Ray threw two innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits with a strikeout.

Frenz pitched one inning, giving up one hit and a walk.

Saturday’s game — NIU 4, Broncos 1

Senior infielder Kali Kossakowski and sophomore infielder Sam Schmidt powered the Huskies’ offense in the final game of the series.

Schmidt hit a home run to center field to score her, sophomore outfielder Jessica Rio and Woollard to give NIU a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning.

Kossakowski tacked on another run for the Huskies when she sent a pitch over the fence in right-center field in the top of the fourth inning.

The Broncos got one back in the bottom of the fifth inning when Marlee Wilson, redshirt junior first baseman, singled to score Stoner, but that was the only run the Broncos would get.

“Sam did a nice job of putting us ahead and Kali gave us an insurance run,” Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe said. “Overall, we played a nice weekend and need to keep winning series.”

Hayes got her second win of the series, going four and 2/3 innings and giving up one earned run on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Frenz pitched two and 1/3 innings and only gave up one hit.

Schmidt went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.

Kossakowski went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.

NIU’s next game is 1 p.m. Friday when they travel to Mount Pleasant, Michigan for a three-game series against Central Michigan University.