NIU softball reaches .500 after four wins in Coastal Carolina Tournament

Jemea Green

DeKALB The softball team finished the 2020 Battle of the Beach tournament with a 4-1 record to improve its overall record to 5-5. 

Friday game one — NIU 8, Delaware State 5

NIU’s big first inning gave it the advantage over the Delaware State University Hornets in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. Sophomore first baseman Katie Keller started off the scoring when she doubled with runners on first and second and no outs. 

Junior catcher Kira Mickelson, who led the Huskies at the plate going 2-for-3, drove in her first of two RBIs on the day when she singled, and the Huskies went up 2-0. Mickelson got a run of her own after a double steal, putting the Huskies up 4-0. A single from senior utility player Kayla Scaperrotta put sophomore outfielder Amberly Rodriguez in scoring position. Rodriguez stole home, and NIU had a 5-0 advantage over the Hornets to end the first inning. 

Delaware State was slow to answer, scoring one run in the bottom of the second inning. The Hornets did not get close to the Huskies until the sixth inning when they came within three. NIU capped off the win with a run scoring to start the seventh inning. Delaware State was able to score a run in the seventh inning, but it was not enough to top NIU. 

Friday game two — NIU 3, College of Charleston 2

The Huskies picked up where they left off from the game against Delaware State, and scored quickly to start the second game of Friday’s doubleheader against the College of Charleston Cougars. NIU led the Cougars 1-0 after the first inning. 

Neither team scored again until the fourth inning. NIU was able to capitalize and score needed runs with the bases loaded and two outs. Senior utility player Anne Allen singled to center field to drive in two runs to extend their lead to 3-0. College of Charleston answered by scoring one of their own. 

The Cougars scored another run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but they came up short, giving the Huskies the win 

Saturday game one — NIU 16, Jacksonville State University 15 

NIU recorded a school-record 23 hits to put them over the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks. Heading into the 10th inning, the Huskies were down one run before first-year infielder Kelly Walinski doubled to drive in a run to tie the contest. The game ended with a walk-off single by Keller to bring in Walinski.

The entire game was a back-and-forth battle between the two teams. The Gamecocks scored two runs in the first inning, followed by NIU scoring two also. Both teams were scoreless in the second inning and came alive in the third. JSU took the lead, scoring seven runs, and NIU drove in six. 

Down by two, NIU’s bats got hot again scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth. JSU answered and scored two runs in the seventh inning, tying the ballgame. The game went into extra innings when the Huskies were not able to end the game in seven innings. 

“That is the hardest battled game I’ve been a part of,” Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe said in an NIU news release. “These Huskies never give up, down to the last out. I couldn’t be more proud of their attitude, effort and desire today.” 

Saturday game two — Coastal Carolina 15, NIU 2 

The Huskies were overpowered by the Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers in a short, five-inning game. NIU started off by scoring one run in the top of the first inning. CCU’s big bats led them to score four runs in the bottom of the first. 

NIU remained quiet in the second inning, but Coastal Carolina did not. The Chanticleers drove in three runs in the second inning. 

Mickelson hit a solo home run at the top of the third and that was the end of the Huskies’ scoring for the day. CCU scored two runs in the third inning followed by six in the fourth. 

Sunday morning — NIU 10, Delaware State 2

In the last game of the 2020 Battle of the Beach, NIU won a six-inning ball game against Delaware. The Huskies started off hot in the bottom of the first inning, scoring three runs. Allen tripled with one runner on base and scored a run on a wild pitch. Keller hit a solo home run to close out the first inning. 

Sophomore pitcher Amber Bumbalough pitched the entire game and allowed just two runs on seven hits, one walk and tallied four strikeouts. 

NIU bats were able to put the run rule in effect after tallying three runs in the fifth inning and ending the contest driving in two runs in the bottom of the sixth. 

NIU will continue tournament play the weekend of Feb. 28 through March 1, as they travel to Memphis, Tennessee to play five games in the Memphis Tournament.