Softball defeats Zips in first home series of season


Members of the softball team gather at the mound in Friday’s first game against University of Akron Zips. The Huskies went on to defeat the Zips in this game 3-1.

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB — Softball won its home and Mid-American Conference opening series this weekend against the University of Akron Zips behind strong pitching from sophomore pitcher Alex Frenz. The teams split Friday’s double-header, with NIU (13-11, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) winning the first game, 3-1, and the Zips (12-15, 1-2 MAC) taking the second game, 10-2. The Huskies won the final game of the series, 3-0, on Saturday.

Friday’s game one

Frenz (9-2) pitched six innings, and junior pitcher Tara Thacker got the final three outs for her second save to give the Huskies a 3-1 victory.

The Huskies totaled eight hits with sophomore outfielder Jessica Rio going 2-for-3 with one run scored.

The Zips finished with five hits.

Akron pitcher Lexi Handley (10-7) pitched six innings and struck out five batters. She gave up three earned runs and walked three.

Alaynie Woollard, junior catcher and infielder, singled up the middle to score Bekah Harnish, junior infielder and catcher, and tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.

Harnish singled to right field to bring home sophomore outfielder Jenna Van Geertry to give NIU a 2-1 lead.

The Huskies tacked on one more in the bottom of the sixth when third baseman Rebecca Rupard singled to score Rio.

The Zips scored their only run in the top of the first when catcher Alyssa Nicholas singled up the middle to score outfielder Ashley Sims.

Friday’s game two

The Zips broke out for five runs in the top of the fourth inning and added four more runs in the top of the seventh inning and defeated NIU 10-2.

Runs by sophomore infielder Sam Schmidt and Rio in the bottom of the fourth and a homer by Van Geertry in the bottom of the seventh inning was all the Huskies could muster.

The Huskies drew seven walks and left six on base.

“I think we were only one or two hits away from that game being a lot tighter,” said NIU Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe. “[Grable] had a great shot with the bases loaded. If that ball drops, two or three runs score. The next inning, we had the bases loaded again and came up a hit short.”

Sutcliffe said the first game went as expected, and Akron made them pay for their mistakes in the second game.

Thacker gave up five earned runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in two innings and two batters faced.

Junior pitcher Keegan Hayes gave up four earned runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

Junior pitcher Emma Ray struck out one and gave up a homer in one inning of work.

Saturday’s game

Frenz (9-2) went the distance, giving up two hits and two walks, while striking out three batters to pick up her ninth victory of the season and to clinch the series with a 3-0 victory.

Sutcliffe said it was the type of game the team expected on Saturday.

“[Frenz] did an awesome job today holding them and shutting them out after the offense Akron displayed yesterday,” Sutcliffe said. NIU had nine hits with Harnish going 2-for-4 with a run scored and Van Geertry going 2-for-3 also with a run scored.

The Huskies struck out just once, walked five times and left 10 runners on base.

“I think we left way too many runners on base,” Sutcliffe said. “I think we could’ve opened the game up even more, but the fact [that] we came out to win the series, that’s what it’s all about.”

Sophomore middle infielder Kali Kossakowski’s home run in the bottom of the third was the first hit for the Huskies and put them on top, 1-0.

Schmidt reached base on an Akron error that allowed Harnish to score all the way from second base to double NIU’s lead.

Senior first baseman Kayti Grable tacked on another run with her hit to left centerfield that allowed Van Geertry to score from second.