Softball blows up Flames


Senior Nicole Gremillion waits on a pitch in a game against Buffalo Saturday. The Huskies lit up UIC Tuesday, winning 12-4.

By Frank Gogola

Softball’s offense couldn’t be cooled down after it took a few innings to heat up in its final non-conference game.

The Huskies’ (21-27) bats carried the team while the relief pitching sealed the deal in a 12-4 beatdown of the Illinois-Chicago Flames (12-25) Wednesday at Flames Field in Chicago.

The Huskies pounded out 15 hits, which tied their season high. They drove in 12 runs, their second-highest total this season.

“I was definitely excited with our offense,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Once they got going, they all got rolling. They did a great job of staying patient and then just kept scoring.”

At the plate, the Huskies did the majority of their damage in two innings, posting a pair of crooked numbers.

Trailing 3-0, the Huskies plated five runs in the fourth inning to go ahead for good. After the Flames cut NIU’s lead to 5-4, the Huskies blew the game wide open with a six-run sixth inning. They added one run in the seventh inning.

“Their pitcher was doing a good job of painting the outside corner,” Sutcliffe said. “Her changeup kept [our batters] off balance. But, we made some adjustments at the plate and got going.”

Freshman first baseman Kayti Grable (1-for-5) and sophomore catcher Emily Naegele (2-for-5) led the Huskies with three RBIs apiece.

Senior left fielder Nicole Gremillion (3-for-5) paced the Huskies with three hits, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

Freshman Becca Rupard (2-for-3) and senior Ashley Kopp (0-for-3) each drove in one run.

The Huskies’ two other runs came on non-batting errors by the UIC infield.

Rupard hurled four innings of one-run ball after she replaced junior pitcher Jessica Sturm in the circle following the third inning. Sturm surrendered three runs, two earned, on three hits.

“They worked really well together because they’re different pitchers,” Sutcliffe said. “Jess does it with her speed. Becca does it with finesse. Together, they threw a really good game.”

The Flames jumped on Sturm for one run in each of the first three innings, including a pair of solo home runs. In relief, Rupard allowed one run, which was unearned. Sturm picked up the win and Rupard grabbed the save.

“Jess gave up a couple long balls … but they were all solo shots,” Sutcliffe said. “You always can come back from one run. It’s when you’re giving up three or four runs at a time [that it hurts].”