Softball looks to get back in win column

By Frank Gogola

Softball will stay in DeKalb but will take a break from conference play for a midweek, non-conference doubleheader.

The Huskies (11-16) will take on North Dakota (3-18) at noon and 2 p.m. today at Mary M. Bell Field.

The Huskies, losers of five of their last six games, will attempt to avoid their third three-game losing streak this season. North Dakota brings with it a two-game winning streak after dropping 18 of its first 19 games.

“People’s records sometimes don’t mean as much in softball as they do in other sports,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Sometimes you just have a game where bloop [hits] fall in or umpires have different strike zones. All we can do is concentrate on playing our game.”

Offensively, North Dakota averaged 11.5 runs per game in its last two games; however, it averaged only 2.5 runs per game through its first 19 games. Compared to the 3.3 runs per game and the .250 batting average North Dakota has averaged this season, it has allowed an average of 9.95 runs per game and a batting average of .410.

In their first meeting, the Huskies beat North Dakota, 10-3, March 9 in Wichita, Kan., as part of the Shocker Softball Classic. Junior pitcher Allyson Hecht gave up three runs, one earned, on seven hits, pitching all seven innings.

“I expect it to be a much closer game this time,” Sutcliffe said. “When we first played, that was their first weekend of the season. They’re a completely different team now. I expect it to be more competitive, and I expect our offense to get rolling.”

The Huskies are coming off a 1-3 weekend, their first weekend of conference play. They split a Friday and Saturday two-game series against the Bowling Green Falcons before they dropped a Sunday doubleheader against the Toledo Rockets in the Huskies’ first home and first MAC games.

“I thought we played nervous this weekend,” Sutcliffe said. “With it being their first conference weekend, I think they made it more than it needed to be.

“I just want them to communicate better. Over the weekend we had some balls dropped because of lack of communication. We definitely need more energy in the first inning instead of waiting until the sixth or seventh inning for that energy. We need to have that [energy] consistently for an entire game.”