The Northern Illinois University softball team split its final doubleheader at the Jayhawk Invitational shutting out Jackson State and falling to Nebraska at Arrocha Ballpark Saturday.
The Huskies (9-11) posted an 8-0 win over Jackson State and suffered a 10-2 loss to Nebraska in the tournament finale.
NIU pounded out 10 hits and scored in every inning except the first, while holding the Tigers to four hits in five innings to cruise to its second shutout win of the season.
Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) led the way for the Huskies going 2-for-3, including a home run, an RBI and a run scored. Pitcher Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) helped her own cause going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
“Shelby had a really good day,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “It was nice for her to come in on the last day in front of her home crowd and have a good showing. Having a walk-off home run is always a good memory.”
After a scoreless first inning, NIU scored two runs in the next three innings. A one-out RBI double by Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) scored Sturm and open the game’s scoring. Rebecca Rupard’s (Normal, Ill./Normal West) sacrifice bunt scored Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) and give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
RBIs from Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) and Phelan in the third inning extended NIU’s advantage to 4-0. Kayti Grable (Santee, Calif./Santana) hit a one-out home run over the left field fence and Kopp reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Erika Oswald from third on the play, to give the Huskies a 6-0 advantage.
Phelan scored on a groundout to second in the fifth inning and Miller homered to left field in the sixth to end the scoring and the game.
The Huskies were unable to do much in their tournament finale with Nebraska. NIU fell behind 6-0 through the first four innings, allowing two runs in the first, three in the second and one in the fourth. NIU pulled to with four with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth.
The Cornhuskers put up a four spot in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 10-2 and end the game.
NIU went 2-2 on the weekend, but Sutcliffe was pleased with the team’s performance during its spring break trip to Kansas.
“Offensively we got into a groove,” Sutcliffe said. “Prior to the Kansas game they did a good job of staying within themselves and getting the correct pitches. I think defensively we grew as a team, learning the game of softball and learning some positions and buying into what we want to do.”
The Huskies return to action Sunday, March 23, for a doubleheader at Iowa State. First pitch for Game One is set for noon CT.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.