Softball ends Frost Classic with 4-4 overall record

Senior infielder Katie Keller led the team in hits for the weekend, including a game winning grand slam.


Courtesy of NIU Athletics

Senior infielder and catcher Katie Keller assumes her batting stance during a game. (NIU Athletics)

By Jordan Radloff

DeKALB — The NIU softball team won both matchups on the first day of the Frost Classic Tournament Friday in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Huskies came out on top with a 6-1 victory over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga followed by a 10-3 win against Butler University.

Day one, game one: NIU 6, UT Chattanooga 1

NIU was pitted against the tournament host team for the first game of the evening. The Mocs were the first to score in the second inning, but NIU junior starting pitcher Delaney Ostrowski did not allow any further runs for the remainder of the game.

Senior outfielder Kara Apato and senior infielder Katie Keller were key hitters for the Huskies. Apato led the team with two hits and three runs scored. While Keller only had two earned runs-batted-in, she was a catalyst in each of the scoring rallies for the Huskies in the third, fifth and seventh innings.

Sophomore pitcher Claire Norred came in to relieve in the final inning and had two strikeouts to help close out the game for an NIU win.

Day one, game two: NIU 10, Butler 3

The Huskies showed even more hitting prowess in their second game of the evening against the Bulldogs. There were many errors on both sides, with a total of 12 for both teams, but NIU was able to secure a decisive victory. 

The game remained scoreless until halfway through in the bottom of the fourth inning when Butler finally scored the first run. NIU retaliated with multi-run innings through the end of the game while the Bulldogs were only able to score on two other occasions.

Multiple Huskie hitters shared the glory at the plate. Keller led the team with three hits. Sophomore catcher Ellis Erickson and freshman infielder Avery Carnahan both had two hits each to contribute to NIU’s success.

Starting sophomore pitcher Emily Dato was relieved in the fourth inning. Norred came in to pitch for her second appearance for the day and added three more strikeouts to her total.

Day two, game one: NIU 12, Eastern Kentucky 1

The first game of the second day of the tournament was a blowout win for the Huskies, ending after the fifth inning by mercy rule.

Keller and Apato were key hitters for NIU once again, having four and three hits respectively. Keller ended the game by inciting the run rule with a grand slam, bringing home junior Kelly Walinski, senior Mackenzie Mahy and Apato to score.

Day two, game two: Southern Illinois 11, NIU 3

NIU’s following game of the day had the opposite result for the Huskies. The team was unable to keep up with the Salukis after only being able to score three times.

Despite a two-run home run from Keller to give the Huskies an early lead in the first inning, other batters were unable to match the same hitting success throughout the rest of the game. Southern Illinois racked up 16 hits against NIU pitchers Dato and Ostrowski which led to more consistent scoring for the Salukis to win the game.

The fifth and final game of the tournament for NIU against Butler University was cancelled Sunday.

Looking ahead to next weekend

The NIU softball team has now brought their season record to an even 4-4 after competing in two non-conference tournaments. The Huskies will see their next action Friday when they travel to Clarksville, Tennessee for the Austin Peay Tourney. NIU’s first matchup of the tournament will take place 1 p.m. Friday against the Bellarmine University Knights.