The Northern Illinois softball team‘s bats erupted in its 7-3 victory over host Florida Atlantic on the final day of play in the FAU “Strike-Out Cancer” Tournament Sunday.
The Huskies (5-5) pounded out eight hits and capitalized on four Owl errors to rally for the victory.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the second, NIU erupted with a five-run inning to take a 6-3 lead. The Huskies scored five runs on one hit, two base on balls and four Florida Atlantic errors.
“We definitely capitalized on every error they made, said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Getting a run in the bottom of the first, after they scored the two in the top of the inning was huge for us to give us confidence since went yesterday without scoring.”
After back-to-back one out walks put a pair on for NIU, Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) reached on an error to load the bases for Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins). Gremillion drove in the innings first run when she reached on a fielder’s choice and Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) scored on an error by the first baseman.
Two more runs scored on a FAU error when Delani Vest (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) reached on a fielder’s choice and Madison Murphy (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart) and Phelan scored on an error by the Owls’ catcher. Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncali) singled to left, driving in Vest, who advanced to third on the hit and scored on a throwing error by the left fielder, and Gremillion.
“It was nice to see Bryanna [Phelan] have a good day. She’s been working really hard and trying to getting back from an injury in the fall,” she said. “JB [Barnett] has been steady all along. That’s been really good for us.”
Barnett led the Huskie offense in the top of the order going 2-for-4 with two RBIs from the three hole. Phelan provided the pop from the bottom of the NIU line up as she went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
“We mixed the line up up this last game to see if we could get a little more run production,” Sutcliffe said. “Nicole had been doing really well getting on base, so we took her out of the three spot and put her up at the top and see what we could do. It seemed to work.
“We started the rally [in the fifth] with the bottom of the line up. They got things going, then our top of the line up was able to do what they do and get them in.”
The Huskies return to the diamond Saturday, March 2, when NIU travels to Carbondale, Ill. to compete in the Coach B Classic hosted by Southern Illinois. Northern Illinois opens the tournament against in-state rival Western Illinois with first pitch set for 10 a.m. CT.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.