Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday, the Northern Illinois University softball team scored a pair of runs but was unable to complete the comeback as the Huskies fell to UIC, 5-4, at Mary M. Bell Field.
“We made a couple of defensive miscues that they capitalized on,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “When push comes to shove, we’re going to fight until the end. That’s kind of been our theme this year.”
With two outs, two runs in and Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) on second, Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) lined a single over the third baseman’s head and into left field. Barnett was waved home, but was thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw by Courtney Heeley to give the victory to the Flames (19-20).
“In hindsight, I probably should’ve held her up,” Sutcliffe said. “We still had to get another hit at that point. I’m risking that throw coming into her, or sliding into the catcher. It had to be a perfect play. She’s got to throw through the runner and still make a tag. They were able to execute.”
The Huskies’ (17-27) first three batters reached to load the bases with no outs. Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale) hit a sacrifice fly out to left field, scoring Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City,/Elkins) from third and moving the runners up a base. Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) then flied out to drive in Allyson Hecht (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) from third and pull NIU to within a run. However, Barnett was unable to advance from second.
UIC opened a 2-0 lead with a run in the first and a run in the third. An RBI groundout by Barnett scored Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest), who led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on an errant throw by the centerfielder. The Flames opened a 5-1 lead with a three-run fifth.
Barnett led the way for the Huskie offense going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Sheppard and Miller also turned in multi-hit games with each going 2-for-4.
The Huskies return to the field Friday when NIU welcomes Akron to Mary M. Bell Field for a doubleheader. First pitch for Game One is set for at 1 p.m.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.