Softball sweeps Eastern Michigan

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB — Softball completed its first conference sweep of the season when the Huskies beat the Eastern Michigan University Eagles in three games this weekend.

The Huskies (27-18, 13-8 Mid-American Conference) scored 26 runs against the Eagles (15-32, 3-8 MAC), 21 of which came in Friday’s doubleheader.

The Huskies won the first game, 13-5, and took the second matchup, 8-3, and the final game, 5-2.

Junior pitcher Tara Thacker continued a string of strong performances with two complete games. Thacker (8-9) won her last four contests and has an ERA of 1.00 during that span.

“Pretty much everything’s been working,” Thacker said. “We’ve been moving the ball around a lot [in] different areas, and I think that’s been working out really well for us.”

Friday’s game one

The first inning lasted 45 minutes with the teams combining to score 11 runs, eight of which came from NIU.

The game lasted just five innings because the Huskies were up by eight runs after the fifth inning.

NIU scored in each of the these innings except the fourth inning.

All hitters in the Huskies starting lineup reached base. Senior middle infielder Kali Kossakowski was the only one player in the starting lineup without a hit, but the shortstop drew two walks, scored a run and collected an RBI.

Sophomore utilityman Abby Howlett went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, a run scored and a walk.

Alaynie Woollard, junior catcher and infielder, went 1-for-3 with three RBIs, one run scored, a walk and a stolen base.

Sophomore pitcher Alex Frenz (12-6) picked up the victory for NIU. Frenz relieved junior pitcher Keegan Hayes in the first inning and gave up two earned runs on five hits in four and 2/3 innings.

The Eagles used four pitchers in the game. Freshman pitcher Savannah White was the only Eagles pitcher to pitch at least a full inning. White gave up two earned runs on two hits in three innings.

The Huskies collected 13 hits and eight walks.

Friday’s game two

The Eagles scored three runs in the third inning, but Thacker held them scoreless after that.

Thacker pitched seven innings, giving up two earned runs on two hits, with one walk and one strikeout.

Sophomore outfielder Jessica Rio went 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.

Woollard went 1-for-2 with two RBIs, one run scored and a walk.

Sophomore infielder Sam Schmidt went 1-for-3 with one RBI, one run scored, a stolen base and a walk.

The Huskies had 10 hits, drew five walks and committed two errors.

NIU’s offense answered the Eagles with three runs of its own in the bottom of the third inning and took a 4-3 lead on Woollard’s home run in the fourth inning.

Woollard walked with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to score Rio.

NIU tacked on three more runs in the sixth inning when senior first baseman Kayti Grable singled to score Rio and sophomore outfielder Jenny Van Geertry. Senior pitcher Skylar Weinstein singled to left center field to score Bekah Harnish, junior catcher and infielder.

Saturday’s game

Thacker pitched her second complete game of the weekend. The junior pitcher worked out of a couple of bases-loaded jams in the second and fifth innings and held the Eagles to two runs and seven hits.

Kossakowski went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, one RBI, a walk and a stolen base.

Woollard went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a walk.

Harnish was 1-for-3 with three runs scored, a walk and a stolen base.

“Anytime you can win three games from an opponent in conference is a good thing,” Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe said. “Hopefully we can carry that momentum into next week and finish strong.”

Harnish singled to start the fifth inning, stole second base and scored on a single from Kossakowski to make it a 3-1 game.

NIU tacked on two unearned runs before the seventh inning.

Eagles sophomore infielder Amanda Akles homered in the seventh inning, but that is all the offense the Eagles could muster.

The Huskies play a single game against the University of Wisconsin Badgers 4 p.m. Tuesday in Madison, Wisconsin.