Surging NIU to face Notre Dame

By Roger Moreano

Just one week ago, the NIU softball team was 7-14 and looking to improve many facets of its game, not to mention its record.

In the past week, the Huskies have done just that by winning eight out of nine games and nine out of 10 overall—including a nine-game winning streak—while improving their mark to 15-15.

Huskies’ head coach Dee Abrahamson is pleased with her team’s efforts in the past week, especially this past weekend’s action at the Illinois State/Subway Classic.

“We’re playing pretty well now and much better than earlier in the season,” Abrahamson said. “It meant a lot to beat (7th ranked) Missouri (2-1 Saturday at Illinois State). It was really a big win for us.”

NIU’s only regret was not being able to repeat the feat in Sunday’s championship game against Missouri. The Tigers ended the Huskies’ nine-game streak with a 5-1 win and captured the crown. NIU had to settle for second place at the Classic for the second consecutive season.

“In the championship game, we gave up an early run, but then we came back and tied it up,” Abrahamson said. “Then we lost our concentration and made some errors that put them ahead.

“We still put people on base later, but we didn’t get the hits when we needed them. We played really well and the players put out a lot of energy.”

Now the Huskies must focus their energy on Notre Dame who will today at 2 p.m. be at Huskie Softball Diamond for a doubleheader. Abrahamson is wary of the Fighting Irish who not only bring with them the school’s national prestige but also a solid 17-13 record.

“The name ‘Notre Dame’ itself attracts a lot of talented athletes to that (university),” Abrahamson said. “They’ve been a club team for a long time, but now they’re a very good Division I team.

“They just swept Evansville over the weekend and they’ve beaten South Carolina, which is nationally ranked, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin Green-Bay and Indiana State.”

The Huskies will try to climb over the .500 mark for the season and begin another winning streak, which won’t be easy when facing a team like Notre Dame.

“Our players know what they (Notre Dame) are capable of,” Abrahamson said. “So we know that we are going to have to play well to win.”