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Friday doubleheader opens softball’s MAC play

March 29, 2012
Emily Woller

Emily Woller

The Northern Illinois University softball team opens up Mid-American Conference play this weekend when the Huskies welcome Miami and Ball State to Mary M. Bell Field.

The Huskies (12-16) will face MAC East foe Miami (17-10) in a doubleheader Friday and will take on Ball State (19-9) in single games on Saturday and Sunday. The RedHawks enter Friday’s action winners of six of their last seven, while the Cardinals open the weekend against defending MAC champion Western Michigan Friday.

First pitch for Game One of Friday’s doubleheader is set for 1 p.m. with Game Two to follow. Saturday’s game is set for 2 p.m., while Sunday’s finale will begin at 1 p.m. Fans can follow all the action live, via Gametracker.

Friday’s games will feature two of the top strikeout pitchers in the country. Miami’s Jessica Simpson has tallied 140 strikeouts, while NIU freshman Megan Dortch (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue) is close behind with 133.

NIU is looking to get back on the winning track after dropping their last six contests.

Defense, pitching and lack of timely hitting have plagued the Huskies of late. In this week’s three games, the Huskies are batting .253, but have left 24 runners on base.

Jessica Sturm

Jessica Sturm

Walks have hurt Northern Illinois as well. The Huskie pitching staff has given up 19 walks during the same stretch.

NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard knows those three factors are going to be the keys to success this weekend.

“We’ve got to play Huskie softball,” Chouinard said.

“We’ve got to be able to pitch, we’ve got to be able to hit in a timely manner and we have to be able to defend the ball. The girls understand that and the girls know that. The ability to play them at home this year instead of on the road to start will be good for us.”

Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) continues to stay hot at the plate. Miller, who is batting .370 on the season, posted a .556 average in three games this week, going 5-of-9 with a double and an RBI. She leads the team in home runs with seven and RBIs with 22.

For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit