With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the first two Tulsa batters reached via a pair of Huskie (2-3) errors. A sacrifice bunt moved the two runners to second and third, while the next batter was intentionally walked to load the bases and give NIU a force out at every base.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, Jessica Sturm’s (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) pitch hit Erica Sampson to force in the winning run.
The Huskies manufactured a run in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead.
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) led off the inning with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South). Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) drove Gremillion in from third on a sacrifice bunt.
Tulsa rallied in the bottom of the second to tie the game, 1-1, on a two-out single by Maggie Withee to score Aimee Creger.
It was a pitcher’s duel the next five innings.
NIU’s best scoring chance came in the top of the fifth as Jordyn Bowen (Libertyville, Ill./Grayslake) reached on a Tulsa error. After advancing to second on a Kali Kossakowski (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) sacrifice bunt, she was thrown out at third when Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) reached on a fielder’s choice.
“Jess pitched a phenomenal game,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We fought hard all weekend and are walking away with a lot of positives. We will go back to work for two weeks and make sure to learn from our mistakes and be a better team in Orlando.”
The Huskies return to action Friday, Feb. 21, when NIU travels to Orlando, Fla., to compete in the Disney Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. NIU will open the tournament against Fairfield. First pitch is set for 12:15 p.m. CT.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.