Softball picks up finale

By Jarrod Rice

NIU committed seven errors in two losses this weekend against Central Michigan, but the Huskies’ defensive effort was a main reason they closed the series with a win Saturday, coach Donna Martin said.

Of the Huskies 17 runs they gave up in Friday’s doubleheader, six were unearned. While committing no errors in Game 3, NIU shut out the Chippewas 1-0.

Second baseman Shelby Bernard made a diving stop to get the force out at second for the final out and clinch the game for the Huskies (21-24 overall, 6-11 MAC).

“Defense is very important to us,” Martin said. “Defense keeps you in games and it’s not what we did [Friday], but today it gave us an opportunity to win.”

Senior Kathy Dearborn scored the only run on a double by center fielder Kelly Drozd, and junior Lindsey LaChiana provided the pitching with a complete-game shutout.

“I really mixed my pitches well,” LaChiana said. “In the end of the series they knew I pitched inside so [Saturday] I pitched outside.”

On Friday, the Huskies broke out of their offensive slump, but the pitching couldn’t slow the bats off the Chippewas (24-13, 14-5).

In Game 1, the Huskies led 6-5 after six innings, but a three-run seventh by CMU put the Huskies down for good.

“We had (CMU) right where we wanted them,” Martin said. “When you have a chance to win a game against a team that’s as good as Central heading into the seventh inning, you have to find a way to close it out.”

Their five errors in Game 2 proved to be too much for the Huskies to overcome.

A two-run single by CMU right fielder Jacque Benedict capped off a four-run fourth that sealed the Huskies’ fate.