The Northern Illinois University softball team came out swinging Saturday in their first two games of the DeMarini Invitational at University Field.
NIU (7-7) posted an 11-3 victory over Alcorn State in five innings and a 5-1 win over Boise State in the nightcap.
“The offense got off to a good start in both games, which is obviously important with a young pitching staff,” NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said. “It really set the tone for us. The pitchers did a really good job and the defense played great behind them. The girls really put it together today in every facet and got good results.”
Northern Illinois jumped out to a 3-0 lead against the Lady Braves in the first game of the day, batting around in the first inning. With runners on second and third with no outs, Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) hit a sacrifice fly to give the Huskies a 1-0. An RBI double by Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) extended the lead to 2-0.
Carly Norton (Oak Forrest, Ill./Oak Forrest) capped the scoring when her single up the middle scored Parrish.
The Huskies delivered the big blow in the second inning, scoring five runs on two hits to take an 8-0 advantage. NIU batters showed their patience in the inning, coaxing four-straight walks. Norton collected three more RBIs in the game when her triple to right cleared the bases to give NIU a 7-0 lead. Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill/Glenbrook South) completed the scoring when she earned a bases loaded walk, to drive in pitcher Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard)
Northern Illinois posted a three-run third inning to take an 11-0 lead. Norton collected her fifth RBI on the day when she reached on a fielder’s choice to score Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln).
Alcorn State (6-15) got on the board in the fourth, scoring two runs, and added a run in the fifth. However, the Lady Braves were unable to cut the lead to seven and the game ended in the fifth.
Norton led the way for the Huskie offense, going 2-for-3 on the day with five RBI. Parrish also turned in a solid performance from the plate, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
“Carly really stepped up as a senior,” Chouinard said. “Her and Dani both hit in a bunch of RBIs for us in that first game. It’s great to see her [Carly] step up. She’s doing a really good job of making adjustments at the plate.”
Strum pitched well to pick up her first collegiate victory. She allowed three runs, one earned, on two hits and three walks in five innings of work.
The bats remained hot and the Huskie defense was sound against the Broncos in the second contest of the day.
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) provided the catalyst to the NIU offense, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored from the leadoff spot. Miller went 1-for-3, her lone hit was a solo home run to left field in the first inning.
The Huskies capitalized on a Boise State (14-10) error in the second inning to extend their lead to 4-0. With one on and two out, Oswald reached on a fielding error by the shortstop. After a Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) single drove in one run, Gremillion cleared the bases with a three-run homer to right field.
Freshman pitcher Megan Dortch improved to 6-3, going seven innings and allowing one run on five hits and five base on balls.
NIU returns to the diamond Sunday when the Huskies face Boise State at 10 a.m. and No. 12 Missouri at 12 p.m. 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.