The Northern Illinois University softball team battled, but came up short Friday in both games of its Mid-American Conference opener against Miami
The Huskies (12-18, 0-2) suffered an 8-5 loss to the RedHawks (19-10, 2-0) in the first game and dropped a 7-6 affair in extra innings in the nightcap.
Northern Illinois fell behind early in both games, but kept battling. In the second game, NIU overcame a five-run Miami first inning. NIU clawed back with an RBI double by Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forrest) in the second and a run in the bottom of the fourth on a Miami error.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Huskies put up a four spot to take a 6-5 lead.
After RBI doubles by Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln) and Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan/Ottawa) pulled NIU within a run, Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) tied the game on a triple down the right field line. She scored the go ahead run on an Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) sacrifice fly.
Unfortunately, the lead was short lined as the RedHawks tied the game with a run in the sixth. The game was sent into extras when neither team was able to scratch across a run in the final inning-and-a-half. The RedHawks took advantage of its scoring opportunity when Daniela Torres hit a one-out double to score Kirstie Fehrenbach, who led off the eighth with a double.
NIU had a chance to respond in the bottom of the inning. The Huskies loaded the bases with one out; however, Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) and Tofft both struck out to end the game.
The Huskies fell behind, 3-0, in the first game of the day on a three-run homer by Torres over the centerfield fence in the third inning.
NIU came back in the bottom of the frame with a pair of runs when the Miami third baseman threw the ball into right field attempting to throw out Parrish, who laid down a sacrifice bunt, scoring Kaitlyn Barrett (Monticello, Ill./Monticello) and Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins).
The two squads exchanged runs in the fifth inning, with the Huskie run coming off the bat of Miller, who hit her team-leading eighth home run, to make the score 4-3.
Miami delivered the big blow in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs in the inning. The Huskies came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to pull within three. Unfortunately for NIU, that would be as close as the Huskies would get.
NIU continues MAC play Saturday when it plays host to Ball State in the first game of a two-game series. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. Fans can follow all the action live, via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.
For more informatin on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.