Softball wins midweek battle


By Krystal Ward

DeKALB — A solid performance from junior pitcher Tara Thacker sent the Huskies past the Loyola University Ramblers, 7-4, on Wednesday.

The Huskies (14-11, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) powered 10 hits in the game, with the first three batters going a combined 6-for-9.

Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe said sophomore utilityman Abby Howlett had the key at-bat in the game.

“[Howlett] had a 10-12 pitch at bat and was able to come through with a hit,” Sutcliffe said. “If she doesn’t do that, I don’t know how the game comes out.”

After giving up three runs in the first inning, Thacker settled in and finished the game with eight strikeouts through six and 1/3 innings. She allowed four earned runs on seven hits and walked two batters.

“I think almost everything was working,” Thacker said. “I was just mixing it up at different speeds, different heights, and it was just working for me.”

Sophomore pitcher Alex Frenz came in for relief of Thacker and faced two batters to pick up her second save of the season.

Sophomore pitcher Kiley Jones (10-7) picked up the loss for the Ramblers, whose losing streak stretched to four games.

“We showed a lot of tenacity, both offensively and defensively,” Sutcliffe said. “To come up and match the three runs… We did it our own way; [we] were able to get through it, and Tara settled in obviously and figured it out.”

Thacker said the team answering the Rambler’s three runs in the first inning was a huge help for her.

“Knowing that they had my back really helped calm me down and settle me into the game,” Thacker said. “I just focused on each batter at a time and didn’t try to look too far ahead into the game.”

Senior first baseman Kayti Grable went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Bekah Harnish, junior catcher and infielder, finished 1-for-1 with two RBIs and a run scored. Sophomore outfielder Jessica Rio went 2-for-4. Alaynie Woollard, junior catcher and infielder, doubled to right field to score Harnish and advance Grable to third base in the bottom of the first.

Howlett singled to right field to score Grable and Woollard and tie the game at 3-3.

Grable had an RBI single in the bottom of the second to give NIU a 4-3 lead.

The Huskies tacked on two more runs behind a Loyola error and a Harnish single in the bottom of the third.

The Ramblers picked up one run in their late rally at the top of the sixth inning.

The second game scheduled for 5 p.m. was cancelled due to a threat of inclement weather.

NIU continues its homestand 3 p.m. Friday when they start a three-game series with Bowling Green State University at Mary M. Bell Field.