The Northern Illinois University softball team split a pair of games, defeating Iona, 3-2, and falling to Central Florida, 3-2, at the UCF Softball Complex Wednesday.
Once again it was the top of the line up providing the pop in the Huskie (10-9) offense. Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln) went 3-for-3 in the game with a run scored in the three hole, while Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) was 2-for-3 with a runs scored from the leadoff spot.
Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa), who batted clean up, was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
“Steph and Nicole are doing a good job at the top of the line up,” said NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. “We’re doing a good job scoring runs late in the game. Now we just need to close them.”
Megan Dortch (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue) picked up the win to improve to 8-5, allowing two runs, one earned run on two hits and six walks while striking out 11.
With the score tied 1-1 headed into the top of the seventh, Northern Illinois strung together some hits and capitalized on a pair of Iona defensive miscues to score two runs and take a 3-1 lead.
After a leadoff single by Tofft, Miller singled up the middle and advanced to third on an error by the second baseman. Tofft, who advanced to second on the hit, scored on an error by the centerfielder to give NIU a 2-1 lead. Miller scored on a passed ball to give the Huskies a two-run lead.
Iona cut the deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the seventh with one-out, but that would be all the Gaels would muster as Dortch struck out the final two batters to secure the win.
The defense let the Huskies down in the second game of the day as NIU committed four errors leading to two unearned runs and a 3-2 loss to Central Florida (18-9).
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Tofft blasted a two-run homer to right centerfield to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead. However, the Huskie defense gave the two runs right back on a pair of errors in the bottom of the inning. With runners on first and second and nobody out, UCF pulled off a double steal.
Tofft, who was playing catcher, attempted to throw out the runner stealing third, but her throw ended up in left field, and was misplayed by left fielder Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City), allowing both runners to score and giving the Knights a one run lead.
Northern Illinois had an opportunity to take the lead in the first inning. The Huskies had the bases loaded with one out, but were unable to take advantage, stranding the three runners.
NIU is back in action Friday, March 16, when the Huskies travel to Clearwater, Fla. to compete in the USF Invitational. Northern Illinois will face Towson at 1:15 p.m. and Bryant at 5:45 p.m. all times Central. Fans can follow all the action live via the Tournament Central at USFseries.com.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.