The Northern Illinois University softball team fell to host Southern Illinois, 12-4, in its final game of the Coach B Classic Monday afternoon.
“We obviously needed to have a better performance in the circle from our pitching staff,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe.
“It was nice to see us put together some offensive numbers on the board because we had been struggling on the offensive side of the game. I think we handled their pitcher really well. We kept fighting back.”
The Huskies (6-7) jumped on top early with an RBI single by Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) in the first inning to give NIU a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the lead would be short lived. The Salukis took a 6-1 lead with a pair of runs in the first, second and third innings.
Northern Illinois cut the deficit to four with a Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) single to score Jillian Mattor (Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Beach) from third. However, a three-run Southern Illinois’ fourth allowed the Salukis to push their lead to 9-2.
NIU’s offense came back in the top of the fifth when Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) belted her second home run in as many days with a two-run shot to pull within five, 9-4. The SIU bats answered one last time with three more runs in the bottom of the inning to win the game in five innings.
The Huskie offense pounded out nine hits and coaxed three base on balls. Miller led the way going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Gremillion was on base three times from the lead off spot, going 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
“She put a lot of work into her hitting this week,” Sutcliffe said of Miller. “Hopefully some other people will follow her lead on that and understand it takes that much work at this level.”
The Huskies return to the diamond Friday, March 8, when NIU travels to the San Luis Obispo, Calif., to compete in the Mustang Classic, hosted by Cal Poly. The Huskies open the tournament with Nevada. First pitch isset for 11 a.m. CT.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.