Softball wins close series

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB — Softball won its three-game weekend series against the Kent State University Golden Flashes in three tightly contested games.

The teams split Saturday’s doubleheader with Kent State (15-21, 5-6) taking the first game, 6-5, and NIU winning the second game, 7-6.

The Huskies (18-15, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) took the rubber match, 8-6, Sunday. The game was rescheduled for Sunday after inclement weather caused a rainout Friday.

Saturday’s game one — Kent State 6, NIU 5

The game went into extra innings after NIU tied the game, 5-5, in the top of the fifth inning.

The Huskies went scoreless in their half of the eighth inning, leading to sophomore utilityman Bailey Brownfield’s go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring senior infielder Maddie Grimm for Kent State.

Sophomore outfielder Jessica Rio went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Bekah Harnish, junior catcher and infielder, went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and senior infielder Kali Kossakowski was 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored.

Junior pitcher Emma Ray pitched four innings, giving up three hits, three walks and no runs with one strikeout.

Junior pitcher Tara Thacker pitched two and 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs on five hits with three walks.

Sophomore pitcher Alex Frenz took the loss and pitched one and 1/3 innings, giving up one run on one hit.

The Huskies got on the board early behind a RBI single from Harnish and a two-run home run by Alaynie Woollard, junior catcher and infielder.

Kent State tied the game, 3-3, in the bottom of the first inning behind RBIs from Brownfield and sophomore utilityman Hunter Brancifort and a NIU throwing error.

The Golden Flashes took a 5-3 lead after the third inning, but the Huskies tied it on runs scored by Rio in the fourth inning and Harnish in the fifth inning.

Saturday’s game two — NIU 7, Kent State 6

The Huskies held off Kent State’s late rally to take the second matchup of Saturday’s doubleheader.

NIU scored five runs in the fifth inning, including a two-run home run by first baseman Kayti Grable, to take a 7-1 lead.

Kent State scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, including a three-run homer by Grimm, to make it a one-run game, but Frenz closed out the game.

“We stayed patient with their pitcher and finally got at her and [were] able to capitalize on some bloop hits,” said Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Kayti came in and hit the home run. That helped as well. All around, we played two great games.”

Frenz went the distance to pick up the victory, giving up five earned runs, on 10 hits, with three strikeouts and a walk.

Grable went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. Sophomore infielder Sam Schmidt also went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a stolen base and a run scored.

The Huskies totaled 10 hits and left five runners on base. The Golden Flashes committed two errors that led to two unearned runs for NIU.

Senior pitcher Janel Hayes (7-6) took the loss for Kent State, giving up two earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Madi Huck pitched three innings, giving up an earned run, on three hits, with two strikeouts and a walk.

Sunday’s game — NIU 8, Kent State 6

The Huskies scored six runs in the third inning and never relinquished their lead.

Grable went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and hit her second home run of the series.

Harnish and Rio both finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

Sophomore outfielder Katie Lamich went 1-for-2 with a RBI, a walk, a stolen base and a run scored.

Frenz pitched three and 1/3 innings, giving up six earned runs on eight hits with three walks and one strikeout.

Thacker pitched the final three and 2/3 innings without giving up any runs or hits. Thacker walked three batters and struck out one batter.

Senior pitcher Ronnie Ladines pitched five and 1/3 innings and took the loss for Kent State, giving up six earned runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

NIU finished with nine hits, no errors and five runners left on base. Kent State finished with eight hits, three errors and eight runners left on base.

NIU returns home 2 p.m. Wednesday for a matchup with Ball State University at Mary M. Bell Field.