The No. 3 seed Northern Illinois University softball team suffered a 4-1 loss Wednesday to Central Michigan in its opening game of the 2011 Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
Trailing 1-0, CMU (30-19), the No. 6 seed, broke through in the top sixth with three runs on two hits and one error to take a 3-1 lead. Pitcher Kari Seddon began the rally reaching on a one out error. A single and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Pinch hitter Summer Knoop tied the game at 1-1 when she singled to left to drive in Seddon.
With the bases loaded and still only one out, the Chippewas’ Ashley Gilson was hit by a pitch to drive in the go-ahead run, and Cory DeLamielleure coaxed a bases loaded walk to give Central Michigan a 3-1 advantage. CMU added an insurance run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Klosterman to extend the lead to 4-1.
The Huskies (26-26) opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln), the 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year and first team All-MAC selection, set the table for with a lead-off walk
She moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Andrea Colosimo (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) for Zoe Sinner (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) who singled up the middle to drive in Tofft from second base.
NIU starting pitcher Morgan Bittner (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) took the loss, allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits and two Huskie errors. She struck out five while walking four in seven innings of work. She allowed just two Chippewas hits through five innings, keeping NIU in the game, however, the Huskies were unable to get that timely hit, stranding 11 runners, and leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning.
“We clearly didn’t do what we needed to do when it mattered,” said NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. “We didn’t play like we wanted to win a championship. We played tentative and nervous. You don’t win a ballgame that way.”
Seddon allowed one run on five hits and six walks in the complete game victory.
The Huskies will face No. 7 seed Miami at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12. The two teams split their meeting May 6 with the RedHawks posting 1-0 victory in Game One and NIU taking the nightcap, 4-1.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.