The Northern Illinois University softball team swept its first two games of the USF Tournament, defeating Towson University and Bryant University at Eddie C. Moore Field Friday.
Northern Illinois (12-10) posted a shutout victory over Towson, 7-0, in the opening game of the tournament and held on to defeat Bryant University, 7-6, in the nightcap. Both victories were complete team wins, with all three phases playing key roles.
“It was nice to see production out of every part of our lineup today,” NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said. “That’s why we scored so many more runs. We got some good production from the middle of the lineup and continued to get production from the top and bottom.”
Like many of the games on their trip to the Sunshine State, the Huskies scored much of their runs in the later innings. In its victory over Towson, NIU put up a three-spot in the fifth inning, with the big blow coming off the bat of Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa). Miller blasted her seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot to center field. The Huskies tacked on four more in the sixth on five hits.
Miller went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and a run scored, while Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln) was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
As impressive as the Huskie offense was, Megan Dortch (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue) was equally impressive from the pitching circle. The freshman hurler threw a complete game, one-hit shutout against Towson. Dortch, allowed only three base runners on the day, walking two batters, while striking out 12.
“Megan set a good tone today,” Chouinard said. “She came out and threw a lot of strikes. The defense played great for her. The defense was also great for Jessica against Bryant.”
Pitcher Jessica Strum (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) and the defense held off Bryant long enough for the Huskie bats to heat up again late in the game.
Northern Illinois took a 3-0 lead with a three-run second inning, highlighted by Dani Parrish’s (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) two-run triple. The Huskies extended their lead to 5-0 with a pair of runs in the third inning. However, the Bulldogs battled back to tie the game in the fifth.
With the score tied 5-5 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Northern Illinois bats came alive again. After a leadoff single by Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins), Tofft drove her home with her second triple of the season. Miller picked up her third RBI of the day when she singled up the middle to drive in Tofft.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.