Softball heads to UIC


Senior left fielder Nicole Gremillion swings at a pitch against Buffalo Saturday at Mary M. Bell Field. The Huskies close out non-conference play against the Illinois-Chicago Flames at 4:30 p.m. today at Flames Field in Chicago.

By Frank Gogola

Something will have to give when softball (20-27) takes on the Illinois-Chicago Flames (12-24) at 4:30 p.m. today at Flames Field in Chicago.

The Huskies head to the Windy City on a three-game losing streak. The Flames enter the midweek matchup as the losers of five straight games.

The Huskies are coming off a weekend homestand that saw them go 1-3. They will close out their regular season on the road, with UIC being the lone non-conference opponent.

“Any time [we get] to see live pitching it’s a benefit,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “And just staying in the rhythm of playing helps. Could we use a day to prepare [for the conference games]? Sure. But, you can’t get anything like live pitching.”

The Huskies are 4-13 on the road, but they went 2-4 in their last six road contests. The Flames are 6-3 at home, but they lost their last two home games.

The Flames enter the midweek matchup as losers of nine of their last 11 contests.

“We’re looking forward to a tough fight,” Sutcliffe said. “Any time we play them they play us tough.”

At the plate, the Flames boast three batters hitting over .400.

Junior outfielder Paige Peterson leads the Flames in batting average (.416), triples (two) and on-base percentage (.477).

Senior infielder Jacki Fletcher is second on UIC in batting average (.409), runs scored (19), RBIs (22), total bases (59) and slugging percentage (.536).

Senior infielder Natalie Hernandez, who is third on the Flames in batting average (.402), is arguably UIC’s most-complete player. She leads the Flames in runs scored (31), hits (49), doubles (10), home runs (eight), RBIs (33), total bases (85), slugging percentage (.697) and stolen bases (10).

“They’re very disciplined and well-coached,” Sutcliffe said. “We have to try to keep them off balance and guessing [at the plate], and we’re going to have to keep making adjustments.”

In the circle, no UIC pitcher has a record better than .500.

Sophomore pitcher Bridget Boyle has posted a 5-9 record with 4.89 ERA in a team-high 16 starts and 23 appearances.

Sophomore pitcher Alice Fitzpatrick has gone 3-9 with a 4.12 ERA in 12 starts and 20 appearances.

The Flames’ two other pitchers have combined to go 4-6 in eight starts and 18 appearances.

“We’re looking to get our offense going because we’re in a slide,” Sutcliffe said. “We want to get in a rhythm; we’re not looking to put monster numbers up, just to get [some runs] on the board.”