The Northern Illinois University softball team won its sixth-straight league game and swept its second-straight doubleheader Sunday when the Huskies took two from Buffalo at Nan Harvey Field.
The Huskies (17-26, 7-7) went into extra innings to defeat Buffalo in Game One, 6-4, and shutout the Bulls (12-26, 5-9) in second game.
Sophomore Emily Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) improved to 9-16 on the season, picking up the win in both games. She came in to pitch in relief in the first game, pitching the final two innings and pitched a two-hit shutout in Game Two to complete the sweep.
“I think she pitching good pitches according to the counts,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We’ve been talking about that as a pitching staff, pitching the right pitch according to the count. I think the day off yesterday was in her favor to come in a little bit fresher today.”
NIU used the long ball to break a 3-3 tie in the top of the eighth of Game One.
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) belted a two-run homer over the right field fence, to give Northern Illinois a 5-3 lead, while Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) followed with a home run of her own over the right field fence to give Northern Illinois a three-run advantage.
“Jess [Sturm] threw a pretty good game in the first game,” she said. “They got a lot of dink hits off her. Then Emily [Norton] was able to come in and close the door. We were able put two home runs on the board in the eighth and shut them down in the bottom of the inning.”
A four-run second inning gave Norton and the Huskie defense more than enough runs in Game Two. A bases-loaded walk by Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) and bases loaded single by Murielle Vansach (Chicago, Ill./Gordon Tech) gave the Huskies a 2-0 lead. Back-to-back singles to left field by Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) and Gremillion pushed the NIU advantage to 4-0.
NIU extended its lead to 5-0 when Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) scored on an error by the left fielder and Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) capped the Huskies’ scoring with a solo home run in the top of the fifth.
Gemillion led the way for the Huskie offense, going 4-for-8 with three RBIs and two runs scored on the day doing most of her damage in the first game going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
The Huskies belted three home runs on the day with Barnett (3), Gremillion (4) and Sturm (2) all going yard.
“It’s nice to see we’re having some power production out of seven or eight hitters in the line up,” Sutcliffe said. “It’s not something we’re relying on, but it’s definitely exciting to watch.”
The Huskies return to the diamond Tuesday when NIU welcomes in-state rival Western Illinois to Mary M. Bell Field. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.