NIU softball: Huskies split pair of doubleheaders

By Chris Loggins

Softball split a pair of series over the weekend for a 2-2 record.

The Huskies (23-19, 7-5 MAC) got things started against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (24-19, 8-6 MAC), defeating them 2-1 in game one of the series before the RedHawks took game two by a score of 4-3 Friday in Oxford, Ohio. They had a similar series against the Ball State Cardinals (24-21, 10-3 MAC), taking game one, 4-2, in extra innings before the Cardinals defeated them in a 7-6 showdown in game two Saturday in Muncie, Ind.

The weekend gave the Huskies an overall road record of 5-8, opposed to their home record of 8-3 and neutral record of 10-8.

“We definitely have to a better job there,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Obviously, the MAC Tournament isn’t at home, so we have to figure out [how] to play better on the road. I think the doubleheaders are trouble right now. We win the first game of a doubleheader and lose the second. It’s just maintaining the stamina and the focus that it takes for six hours of playing.”

Also continued on the weekend were the fielding woes of the team, totaling seven in the last four games and leading to unnecessary runs.

Fielding is “definitely a point of emphasis for us right now,” Sutcliffe said. “We’re concentrated on it. The first game against Ball State we played, I think, a mostly complete game. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Miami game one

How it happened

Game 1 was quiet until the third inning when the RedHawks got on the board after a few fielder’s choices and throwing errors by the Huskies.

In the top of the seventh, the Huskies finally got going on the offensive end, beginning with a solo home run from freshman infielder Alaynie Woollard.

They eventually took the 2-1 lead on a game-winning RBI single by senior left fielder Bryanna Phelan.

In the circle

Freshman Keegan Hayes pitched a complete game for the Huskies, giving up only one run on eight hits and striking out four in the process for her 12th win. Amber Logemann took the loss for the RedHawks, pitching a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out seven.

At the plate

Woollard went 1-3 for the Huskies, with her hit being a home run in the seventh inning. Phelan’s lone hit proved to be the game-winning single. For Miami, Remy Edwards and Tiyona Marshall both knocked two hits.

Miami game two

How it happened

The Huskies put the first run of the game up in the fourth inning on an RBI single by designated player Jessica Sturm, giving them a 1-0 lead that lasted until the fifth inning.

The RedHawks struck back with a three-hit, two-run inning after a pair of RBI singles.

In the top of the sixth, Sturm came through again, tying the game up at 2-2. In the seventh, outfielder Caitlyn Warren gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead after hitting a solo home run.

In bottom of the seventh, fielding errors and a few advancements gave Miami the eventual win, with Shanyn McIntyre hitting the game-winning double that gave Miami the 4-3 win.

In the circle

Sturm took the loss for the Huskies, giving up four runs on four hits in her time. Logemann got the win for the RedHawks, giving up three hits and two runs in only two innings of work.

At the plate

Sturm went 2-3 for the Huskies, driving in two of its three runs on the day. McIntyre went 3-4 for Miami, knocking in three of its four runs.

Ball State game one

How it happened

Ball State got on the board first, scoring a single run in the second inning on a sac fly, but NIU was able to come back fast with a run of its own, scoring on an RBI double by junior catcher Emily Naegele.

In the top of the fifth, Naegele doubled again for another RBI, giving the Huskies a 2-1 lead. Ball State was able to score again, but the game remained tied through the seventh, sending the 2-2 game to extra innings.

In the top of the ninth, the Huskies put two runs up, scoring on an error and an RBI single by Naegele. The Cardinals got a shot at winning in the bottom of the ninth, but their efforts were strongly fought off, giving the game a 4-3 score in NIU’s favor.

In the circle

Tara Thacker picked up the win for the Huskies, pitching four innings and giving up no runs for her second win. Nicole Steinbach took the loss for the Cardinals, pitching all nine innings, striking out seven, giving up eight hits and allowing four runs.

At the plate

Naegele had a huge game for NIU, going 3-5 with two doubles and a single, driving in three runs. Outfielder Loren Cihlar went 2-4 on the day for the Cardinals.

Ball State game two

How it happened

In the first inning, infielder Bekah Harnish drove in the first run of the game on an RBI double, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Ball State retaliated quickly, scoring two runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning.

NIU didn’t take long to come back again, scoring four runs on four hits with a pair of home runs in the second inning. The back-and-forth game continued throughout, with the score reaching 6-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth. The Cardinals took the lead on a sac fly, which ended up being enough to hold the Huskies off for a 7-6 win.

In the circle

Thacker got her second loss of the season, pitching three innings and giving up four runs on six hits. Kelsey Schifferdecker took the win for Ball State, giving up only one run in 5.2 innings for her second win.

At the plate

Shortstop Kali Kossakowski went 1-2 on the day, but drove in three big-time runs for the Huskies. Cihlar went 3-4 on the day with one RBI for the Cardinals.

Up next

After a 2-2 weekend, the team is looking forward to MAC Tournament play.

“I think it showed us that we can compete with the top of the MAC and we can truly beat anybody on any given day,” Sutcliffe said. “You win two and you lose two by one run.”

The Huskies will be back home to play a doubleheader against the Eastern Michigan Eagles 1 p.m. Friday at Mary M. Bell Field.