Softball will end season on the road vs. Western Michigan

By Brian Thomas

With one final weekend series remaining, NIU softball will travel to Kalamazoo, Mich. to take on MAC opponent Western Michigan in it last two games of 2012.

The Huskies (19-32, 7-13 MAC) were rained out Tuesday, which gave them an extra day to practice and get ready for the Broncos (23-21, 9-9 MAC).

“We just practiced yesterday instead of playing,” said NIU coach Lindsay Chouinard. “We still have three more days of practice before we play this weekend, and because of the rain, we’ve been practicing inside, working on our pitching and hitting.”

Western Michigan comes into this series against NIU losers in its last two games against Bowling Green and is looking to bounce back.

“They won the conference last year and the conference tournament,” Chouinard said. “So they are a seasoned team. They return most of their key players, which I guess is to our advantage because we have seen them.”

The Broncos are a strong pitching team, as they are third in the MAC with a 2.67 earned run average and second in the MAC with 302 strikeouts.

15-game winner Meredith Whitney and Becca Shemberger have pitched 272.1 innings for Western Michigan. Whitney is third in the MAC with 188 strikeouts.

The Huskies will continue to rely on Megan Dortch and Jessica Sturm , as they are their two most consistent pitchers. Dortch leads the team with 11 wins and 158 strikeouts.

“The pitchers are going to have to pitch their games,” Chouinard said. “Getting ahead in the count, and making the Bronco’s hit their pitches.”

NIU will have to be aware of Tara Buchanan, as she leads the team with a .320 batting average, eight home runs and 26 RBIs.

Nicole Gremillion and Stephanie Tofft will need to keep producing, for the Huskies as they are batting .398 and .379 respectively. Tofft has 30 RBIs, while Gremillion leads the team in runs with 46.

“It’s the last two games of our season, and they are very critical games for us looking ahead,” Chouinard said.