NIU, Fighting Irish battle to split

By Roger Moreano

NIU head softball coach Dee Abrahamson isn’t making excuses.

The NIU women’s softball team (16-16) entertained Notre Dame Tuesday in doubleheader action that saw the Huskies fail to take advantage of many scoring opportunities in the first game and end up splitting the twin bill with the Fighting Irish (18-14).

In the first game, the Huskies failed to capitalize on their opportunities and on the fine pitching performance by Kristin Vandenhouten who went the distance—allowing one run on eight hits while striking out two.

NIU had its best opportunity in the bottom of the seventh inning when Vandenhouten singled to lead off the inning. Mandy Clothier then moved Vandenhouten to second with a sacrifice


When Allyn Jeffrey failed to hit safely, Stacy Paller stepped up and singled sharply to center field. Vandenhouten tried to score, but the throw from center field was perfect and Vandenhouten was called out.

Notre Dame took the 1-0 lead in their half of the eighth inning with two out. Sara Hayes drove a shot in the gap in right-center field. Huskie center fielder Ree Zenner made a diving attempt and got a glove on the ball, but the ball popped loose and the run was able to score from second base.

NIU had one last hope when it put two runners on in its half of the eighth but couldn’t get the job done.

“We didn’t play very good offensively,” Abrahamson said. “We had a couple of opportunities but didn’t get the people over when we had to.”

In game two, NIU jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. Amy Sharlau led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a Clothier sacrifice bunt. A single to center by Kim Compton and a bunt single by Jenny Warno loaded the bases for Denise Bloy.

Bloy singled sharply to left field scoring Sharlau, and Compton scored shortly thereafter on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 2-0.

Compton pitched superbly allowing only two hits and striking out two in six complete innings, including a no-hitter through the first four innings. Tracey Meade then came on in the seventh inning and struck out one to close the door on the Fighting Irish.

“Kim and Tracy pitched well,” Abrahamson said. “We wanted to give Tracy an inning before tomorrow (at Iowa).”

And now on to Iowa and the Hawkeyes.

“Iowa is very good and they will tough. People expected them to walk through the Big Ten (Conference) this year.”