The Northern Illinois University softball team split a pair of games on the second day of the Highlander Classic Saturday.
The Huskies (9-18) suffered a 2-0 loss to Notre Dame in their third straight extra inning contest before knocking off Iona, 11-3, in five innings.
“It was another great day for the Huskies,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We had many contributors throughout the second game.”
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) and Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) led the way for the Northern Illinois offense which pounded out a season-high 11 hits against the Gaels. Gremillion was 1-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Kopp went 2-for-3 and two runs batted in. Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ind./Coal City) set the table for the Huskies from the lead-off spot going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
The Huskies did much of their damage in the second inning, scoring eight runs on eight hits and one Iona error. Six Huskies reached base and three runs scored before an out was recorded in the inning. Delani Vest (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland), Jessica Sturm (Goddard, Kan./Goddard), Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa), Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) and Gremillion all collected RBIs in the inning.
NIU added three runs in the bottom of the fourth on two hits and two Gael errors.
With two on and no outs, Gremillion drove in two when she reached on an error and later scored on a Jillian Mattor (Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Beach) single to right field. Iona responded with three runs in the top of the fifth, but Northern Illinois was able to maintain its eight-run lead and it won the game in five.
Emily Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) turned in another solid effort in the pitcher’s circle against Notre Dame, holding the Irish scoreless through seven innings of work. She allowed two runs on two hits in the eighth inning.
Unfortunately, the NIU offense was unable to answer in their half of the inning and Norton dropped to 2-8 on the season.
“We are getting into a rhythm and playing how we know we are capable of,” Sutcliffe said. “Hopefully we can finish the weekend on a strong note and leave California knowing we can compete with anyone.”
The Huskies return to the diamond today when NIU resumes play in the Highlander Classic hosted by UC Riverside by taking on the host Highlanders. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m. Central Time.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.