The Northern Illinois University softball team split its first two games of the Coach B Classic hosted by Southern Illinois, defeating Wright State in the opening game Saturday before dropping an extra inning affair with SIU-Edwardsville.
Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) led the way in NIU’s (4-6) 5-1 victory over the Raiders of Wright State. Miller, a sophomore, went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and two runs scored.
She provided the spark for the Huskie offense, blasting a two-out, two-run homer over the left field fence to give NIU a 2-0 first inning lead.
Miller also played a factor in NIU’s three-run third. With one out, a run in and a runner at third, she reached on an error by the shortstop, allowing Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) to give NIU a 4-0 lead. Miller scored the fifth and final run of the game for NIU when Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) grounded out to second.
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) did an outstanding job setting the table from the leadoff slot, going 3-for-4 with a run scored.
“Shelby [Miller] really stepped up in the four spot,” NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said. “She made good adjustments and hit in a bunch of runs for us. Nicole was really good in the first game. She made a good transition to first base.”
Freshman Megan Dortch (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue), shut Wright State down, allowing one unearned run on three hits, while striking out nine.
In the nightcap, NIU battled back from a 3-1 deficit, but fell, 4-3, in extra innings to SIUE. Trailing 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) singled to keep the inning alive for Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield). Parrish belted a home run over the right field fence to tie the game, 3-3, and send it into extra innings.
“Dani came up big,” Chouinard said. “She’s been doing a good job for us all weekend. We talked a lot about the game and how things tend to even out. She did a really good job of doing the things we were asking her to do in the first game and was rewarded for that in the second game.
“Home runs don’t happen all the time. I think it has a lot to do with making your own luck and she did a really good job of doing that.”
SIUE took advantage of its at bat, scoring a run in the top of the eighth. Unfortunately for NIU, the Huskies were unable to scratch across a run in the bottom of the frame.
Despite the loss in game two, Chouinard felt her pitching staff performed well, allowing three earned runs on the day.
“Megan [Dortch] and Jessica [Sturm] did a really good job today. Ally [Hecht] pitched well in relief,” she said. “Giving up three earned runs in two-plus games of work in softball today is a great performance out of the freshmen. They all did a really good job.”
NIU concludes play in the Coach B Classic Sunday when the Huskies face Western Illinois at 9 a.m. and the host Southern Illinois at 1 p.m. Fans can follow all the action live via Gametracker.
For more information about NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.