Softball to face Illinois State in home opener

NIU Huskies softball teamThe Northern Illinois University softball team returns from its 27-game road trip Tuesday afternoon to face Illinois State at Mary M. Bell Field.

First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Fans can follow all the action live via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.

“Being able to play at home, before we host Miami and Ball State this weekend is going to be really important,” NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. “Illinois State is having a great year and is a very good team. It’ll be a good opportunity for us.”

During their month-and-a-half away from home, the Huskies (12-13) are one game under .500 with two games cancelled due to weather. Northern Illinois enters play Tuesday coming off a 5-4 spring break trip to Florida.

NIU is outhitting its opponents, .286 to .249 with the top of the lineup doing much of the damage.

Sophomore Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln) leads the charge from the three hole with a .420 average with 34 hits, four doubles, three home runs and a pair of triples. She’s second on the team in runs batted in with 20 and runs scored with 21. Leadoff hitter Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) leads the team in hits with 35 and is batting .389 with a team-high 24 runs scored.

Megan Dortch
Megan Dortch

The Huskies’ young pitching staff has come along as the season has progressed led by freshman Megan Dortch (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue). Dortch has posted a 9-8 record with a 2.12 earned run average. She has struck out 121 batters, while allowing 68 hits. Fellow freshman Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) is 3-2 in 12 appearances with a 3.86 ERA.

Illinois State (18-13) enters Tuesday’s contest winners of five of their last six games, including a series sweep of Wichita State. The Redbirds are batting .263 as a ream with Laura Canopy leading the offense with a .359 average. Pitcher Jordan Birch leads the staff with a 2.02 ERA and an 11-8 record.

Tuesday’s game is a brief break from the road, as NIU will travel to Chicago to take on Loyola (6-12) in doubleheader action Wednesday.

Fans can follow all the action live via Gametracker. First pitch for Game One is set for 3 p.m. with Game Two to follow.

“Loyola is a team we played this fall and every preseason,” she said. “They’re both very good teams and provide a different variety. It should be great preparation for us for the weekend.”

For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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