Huskies gain more than split, but less than sweep

By Roger Moreano

Even Ernie Banks would have hesitated to say, “let’s play two” after feeling the biting cold during Tuesday’s NIU-Illinois State softball doubleheader.

The Huskies (20-19-1) defeated the Redbirds (18-24-1) in game one 2-1, but then the teams slugged it out for ten innings in the cold of game two only to end in a draw.

NIU’s Kristin Vandenhouten pitched well in shutting down the Redbirds and holding them to just one run on seven hits.

But the story of game one was the brilliant individual effort by Huskies shortstop Lori Reimer.

Reimer was a wizard with her glove and made a spectacular catch in the top of the fifth inning, as she robbed ISU’s Carmen Hulit of a hit when she snagged a soft liner heading to centerfield. Reimer dove and fully extended herself to haul it in.

For her encore, Reimer stepped up in the bottom half of the fifth and drove in what proved to be the game-winning run. With two out, Reimer stepped up and singled to right to score Niki VanHooreweghe.

NIU would eventually take a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning only to have ISU load the bases. However, NIU escaped danger when Mandy Clothier caught a line shot and doubled ISU’s lead runner off third base. NIU hung on for the 2-1 win.

“Reimer single-handedly beat the Redbirds,” said NIU coach Dee Abrahamson. “She had the game-winning hit and, defensively, she played great and kept us out of trouble.”

Game two saw the Huskies jump out to a quick 2-0 lead after 3 innings. Ree Zenner’s single to left scored Stacy Paller in the first inning. Reimer scored on a wild pitch in the third.

ISU would come back to tie the contest at 2-2 in its half of the fifth. The game eventually went to 10 innings, only to be called because of darkness.

The Huskies and Redbirds both squandered several chances to win the contest. NIU failed to score in the bottom of the seventh when they had the bases loaded and no outs. ISU blew a similar chance when it had the bases jammed and one gone in the ninth.

NIU’s Dawn Worden collected four hits in the nightcap, including a double, and pitcher Kim Compton endured the cold, 11 Redbird hits and the late ISU rallies to pitch the full 10 innings and preserve the tie.