Huskies swept by Akron at home, return favor to Ohio

By Andrew Hanson

NIU softball coach Donna Martin’s plan heading into this weekend’s four-game series was to sweep all the games.

Unfortunately for Martin, the plan was foiled after the first game. The Huskies were swept by Akron before picking up two victories against Ohio to split the weekend series.

The weekend started off rough for NIU (19-23 overall, 7-10 MAC) as it went into a doubleheader Friday against Akron (23-19, 12-5), the top team in the MAC East at the time.

The Huskies lost a pitching duel to Akron , 1-0, in the first game of the doubleheader at Akron. Neither team could find its offense, and NIU was held to two hits.

Akron’s lone run came on a two-out double off senior Lindsey LaChiana,, knocking in a lead-off walk. For the game, LaChiana allowed one earned run off four hits, with one walk and six strikeouts.

“We pride ourselves on good defense and good pitching,” Martin said. “But good hitting is harder to control.”

In Game 2, Akron found its offense and beat the Huskies 8-2 on 13 hits, including a five-run second inning. The Huskies played a part in Akron’s offense with four errors in the game.

The Huskies threatened a comeback when senior Kelly Drozd singled and senior Elyse Jamrozy walked to put NIU runners on first and second. Junior Ellen Stoddard scored Drozd on a single and freshman Katie Colby, pinch running for Jamrozy, scored on sophomore Michelle Nendza’s ground out.

Stoddard led the Huskies’ offense, going 2 for 3 with one RBI.

NIU turned its performance around to sweep Ohio (24-34, 6-11) Saturday and Sunday at Athens, in what amounted to two must-win games to get a spot in the MAC tournament.

Before the weekend, NIU was tied with Ohio for the final spot in the eight-team tournament.

“They were really big wins,” Martin said. “Especially after losing two games to Akron.”

The offense started early for NIU, scoring a run in each of the first two innings, as the Huskies defeated Ohio 8-0 Saturday for their first MAC road win of the season.

Nendza had a lead-off single to start the second and sophomore Bailey Ouellette singled to put NIU runners on the corners. With Ouellette getting thrown out trying to steal second, junior Kelly Park scored Nendza on a single.

NIU scored two more runs in the fourth, three in the fifth, and a final run in the last inning.

NIU proved to be just as dominant in Sunday’s game, again shutting out Ohio in a 4-0 victory.

The Huskies scored three runs on one hit due to three Ohio errors.

Ouellette started the run when she reached first on an error and Park advanced her to second with a single. Freshman Jenna Roberts scored Ouellette and reached first on an error to the shortstop. Krista McPherson reached first on another Ohio error and scored park.