The Northern Illinois University softball team complete the series sweep of Kent State, defeating the Golden Flashes 9-4 on Senior Day at Mary M. Bell Field Sunday.
“Kent’s a great team, they were at the top of the conference coming into this weekend,” said NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. “After Friday, the girls did a really good job of responding.”
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) opened the game’s scoring, blasting a three-run homer over the right field fence to give the Huskies (17-23, 6-6) a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Northern Illinois added two more runs in the bottom of the third when Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) singled to right to drive in a pair and give NIU a 5-0 advantage.
Sturm pitched out of a jam in the top of the fourth.
The Golden Flashes (22-20, 8-4) loaded the bases with two outs, but came up empty handed when Kim Kirkpatrick flied out. NIU kept the momentum going in the bottom of the frame, plating a pair on a two-run home run by senior Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield).
Kent State mounted a rally in the top of the fifth, scoring four runs on five hits to make the score, 7-4. The Huskies responded in the sixth inning, scoring a pair on a single by designated player Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli).
“The offense did a great job of setting the tone early,” Chouinard said. “Responding after they scored I think was really the difference in the game even though we won by five. The fact that we responded took the wind out of their sails.”
Ally Hecht (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison), who came in to pitch in relief for Sturm in the sixth inning, closed out the game. She allowed one hit in two innings of scoreless softball, while Sturm improved to 7-9 on the season, allowing four runs on nine hits. The Huskie pitching staff stranded 10 runners on the day.
Gremillion, who usually bats in the leadoff spot for NIU, was batting in the ninth spot day and did it pay dividends. The junior outfielder went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Parrish was 2-for-4 on the day with two RBIs and a run scored.
“Putting Nicole in the nine spot, she’s one of our best hitters,” she said. “We just had a lot of opportunities in the lower part of our line up to score runs and she came through for us big.”
The Huskies return to the diamond Wednesday when NIU travels to Chicago for a midweek contest against UIC. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. Central Time.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.