Softball rallies for win in regular season finale

Huskies edge Bowling Green, 5-4, on Senior Day

Jennifer Barnett

Jennifer Barnett

The Northern Illinois softball team rallied to win its sixth straight Sunday, posting a 5-4 victory over Bowling Green at Mary M. Bell Field on Senior Day.

“I’m kind of glad today was a tight game to put a little pressure on us to show we can play under it,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “The coaching staff knew we clinched the No. seed during the game, but I wanted them to play under pressure. From here on out, it’s going to be that way.”

With the score tied, 4-4, in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and two outs, senior Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) singled down the left field line to drive in Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) from third to give NIU (24-29, 14-8) a 5-4 lead.

“It’s pretty cool both seniors ended up being the reason we won that game,” Sutcliffe said. “It’s a cool moment for them. This whole weekend, for them to finish their career the way they did is very special for them.”

Kristyn Barrett (Monticello, Ill./Monticello) was caught in a run down on the play to end the inning, however, the one run lead was all pitcher Emily Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) would need as the sophomore hurler retired the side to give the Huskies the victory and complete the weekend sweep. NIU has won 13 of its last 14 MAC contests.

Bryanna Phelan

Bryanna Phelan

After Bowling Green (26-22, 9-13) took a 1-0 lead with a run in the first, the Huskies came back to score three runs in the bottom of the third. With runners at first and second with two outs, Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) singled up the middle to score Phelan from second to tie the game. Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) then drove in a pair on a single to centerfield to give NIU a 3-1 lead.

A two-run home run by Paige Berger and an RBI single by Chloe Giordano gave the Falcons a 4-3 advantage in the top of the fifth. The Huskies responded with a run in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double by Miller to tie the game, 4-4 heading into the sixth inning.

Miller led the way for Northern Illinois at the plate going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Barnett finished her final game at home with a 2-for-4 performance and driving in the game-winning run. Phelan went 3-for-4 with two runs scored from the leadoff spot, while Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) was 2-for-2 with two runs scored.

The Huskies enter the 2013 MAC Softball Tournament in Akron, Ohio, as the No. 4 seed and will play the winner of the No. 5 Miami-No. 8 Toledo game Wednesday, May 8. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. CT.

For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

Seniors Bryanna Phelan (third from left) and Amanda Sheppard (third from right) celebrate with their parents.

Seniors Bryanna Phelan (third from left) and Amanda Sheppard (third from right) celebrate with their parents.

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