Huskie offense erupts in series opener
The Huskie (16-23, 5-6) offense unloaded three games of frustration on the Golden Flashes (22-19, 8-3) pounding out 10 hits on the afternoon.
Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) led the NIU offense, going 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Senior Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln) was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
“We did a good job today,” said NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. “The hitters did a good job. The defense obviously made a lot of great plays. Steph did a great job in center field. Sheppard made some great plays at short and the pitchers came to throw today.”
After falling behind, 3-0, following a three-run third inning by Kent State, the Huskies scored four runs on four hits and an error.
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) led off the inning with a triple and Tofft drove her in to put the Huskies on the board. Two batters later, with runners on first and second, Barnett singled to drive in Tofft and move Parrish to third.
A sacrifice fly by Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) tied the game up at 3-3. Barnett, who advanced to second on a throw to the plate during her at bat, moved up to third on the sacrifice fly by Sheppard. Barnett scored the go-ahead run when the catcher, who thought there were three outs after a strikeout by Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa), rolled the ball to the pitcher’s circle and walked off the field. Barnett, recognizing there were just two down, sprinted home and scored to give NIU a 4-3 lead.
Northern Illinois tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth but freshman Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard), who came in to pitch for starter Ally Hecht (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) in the fourth inning, shutdown the Golden Flashes for the final four innings.
“She did a great job and her defense did a great job helping her out,” Chouinard said of Sturm’s performance. “She did a good job moving the ball around. When she was keeping it down, she was getting us ground balls and that’s what this team needs to be successful.”
The Huskies are back in action Sunday, April 15, when NIU closes out its series with Kent State at Mary M. Bell Field. First pitch for Senior Day is set for 1 p.m. Central Time. Fans can follow all the action live via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.