Softball returns to its winning ways


Players and coaches huddle together to discuss strategies before a game earlier this season. The softball team won its two games in the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa Friday and Saturday. 

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB — Softball swept the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa Friday after scoring five runs in the top of the seventh inning against the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits.

NIU came into the weekend losing four of its last five games played. The Huskies (11-10) defeated the University of South Dakota Coyotes, 4-1, in their first game on Friday. A couple of hours later, the Huskies ran past South Dakota State, 6-2.

Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe said Friday was an all-around good day for the pitchers, hitters and defense and said that the defense helped minimize opponents scoring.

“Obviously, the offensive power of [senior middle infielder Kali Kossakowski] and [sophomore middle infielder Sam Schmidt] was great to see,” Sutcliffe said. “It felt like we got back into a groove [Friday and Saturday]. Hopefully, we can carry this performance into the Akron series [beginning Friday].”

University of South Dakota

Junior pitcher Keegan Hayes pitched four innings and gave up one earned run to pick up the victory, while sophomore pitcher Alex Frenz pitched the final three innings to get the save for NIU.

It was Frenz’s first save of the season. She faced 10 batters and struck out six of them.

Kossakowski finished the game hitting 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a stolen base and an RBI.

The Huskies hit the ground running when senior first baseman Kayti Grable singled-home Kossakowski in the first inning.

Kossakowski homered in the third inning to double NIU’s score, 2-0.

The Coyotes got one back in the fourth inning on a single by sophomore catcher Jessica Rogers that scored junior infielder Emily Winkler. Rogers had two of the Coyote’s four hits. A home-run to left by sophomore infielder Sam Schmidt and an RBI double by sophomore outfielder Katie Lamich in the sixth inning gave the Huskies a 4-1 lead.

South Dakota State University

The Huskies scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to rally back and defeat the Jackrabbits.

Grable singled home Kossakowski and advanced Bekah Harnish, junior catcher and infielder, to third base.

Schmidt reached base on a fielder’s choice after hitting a sacrifice bunt to score Harnish and give NIU a 3-2 lead.

Sophomore outfielder Jessica Rio singled to left center to bring home Schmidt and freshman middle infielder Kalalaelisa Toomalatai.

Rio reached second base on an errant throw by Jackrabbits’ sophomore outfielder Lyndsey Crist.

Lamich singled to score Rio and bring in the Huskies’ sixth and final run.

Grable and Kossakowski both went 3-for-4 at the plate. Kossakowsi scored two runs while Grable knocked in two RBIs.

Frenz picked up the victory, pitching three and 2/3 innings. Junior pitcher Tara Thacker pitched the first three and 1/3 innings, giving up three hits, four walks and two unearned runs.

Grable singled to bring Kossakowski home to open the game, but the Jackrabbits scored unearned runs in the second and third innings to take a 2-1 lead.