Softball takes three of four in tournament

By Frank Gogola

Softball (5-4) took three out of four games this weekend after inclement weather forced scheduling changes.

The Huskies swept Friday’s games against the Fairfield Stags and the Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla.

Rain forced Saturday’s matchup against the Albany Great Danes to be completed Sunday, with Huskies losing. Still, they closed out their weekend with a win over the Delaware Blue Hens Sunday.

Against Fairfield, senior pinch runner Erika Oswald scored on a passed ball that put the Huskies up for good, 3-2, in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore catcher Emily Naegele drove in two runs — the first of which proved to be the game winning run — in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Huskies went on to win, 7-3, behind junior pitcher Allyson Hecht’s four innings of two-run ball and freshman pitcher Skylar Weinstein’s three innings of one-run relief. Hecht picked up her first win of the season and Weinstein picked up her first save of the season.

“We just did a really good job of putting the ball in play and capitalizing on the other teams’ mistakes [Friday],” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “That’s what we struggled with in the first weekend.”

In the nightcap, the game remained scoreless until the NIU offense came to life in the bottom of the sixth inning. Junior pitcher Jessica Sturm (RBI double), freshman center fielder Jordyn Bowen (two-run double) and freshman pinch hitter Rebecca Rupard (RBI single) strung together back-to-back-to-back hits, providing all the runs the Huskies needed.

The Huskies went on to win 4-0, as Sturm hurled a six-hit, one-walk, complete-game shutout.

“[IPFW has] a good balance of speed and power, so it was good to see Jess handle that,” Sutcliffe said. “It was one of the best games Jess has pitched this season. She got hit around a little bit and really stood up to that.”

The Huskies dropped a 3-1 decision to Albany Sunday after the game was suspended in the top of the fourth inning due to starting two hours late and being delayed twice because of rain.

The Great Danes opened the first inning with three runs, and the Huskies never caught up. NIU added a run on an Ashley Kopp RBI sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third.

The game resumed Sunday, but neither teams added any runs.

“After the delay, I don’t know if we were ever zoned in,” Sutcliffe said. “Today, they came out and played really well. We tried to play catch-up the entire game.”

Due to scheduling conflicts, the Saturday night game against N.C. State was canceled, and the Huskies took on Delaware Sunday instead of the previously scheduled Lehigh Mountain Hawks.

The Blue Hens took advantage of two NIU errors in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.

The Huskies scored all the runs they would need in the fifth inning, as Bowen singled, Kali Kossakowski drove Bowen in with a triple and Rupard drove Kossakowski in with a pinch-hit squeeze.

NIU defeated Delaware, 2-1, as Sturm went all seven innings.

“It was a real nice come-from-behind win,” Sutcliffe said. “We didn’t do that yet this season, so it was nice to do.”