It will be a mini Mid-American Conference Tournament of sorts at Mary M. Bell Field this weekend as Northern Illinois University, Bowling Green, Toledo and Western Michigan will play eight MAC softball games in DeKalb starting Friday.
NIU and Western Michigan, travel partners in the MAC for softball, were originally slated to open MAC play at Bowling Green and Toledo this weekend. However, unplayable conditions on BGSU’s Meserve Field and Toledo’s Scott Park Softball Complex have forced the games to be moved to Mary M. Bell Field.
The Huskies (10-13) will be the designated AWAY team for all four of their games this weekend. NIU opens play with Bowling Green (9-14-1), playing single games with the Falcons on Friday and Saturday. First pitch for Friday is scheduled for 4 p.m., while Saturday’s game is slated for 2 p.m. NIU will wrap up play with a doubleheader against Toledo (8-18) Sunday with first pitch for game one set for 2 p.m. with the second game to follow.
NIU, which is coming off a loss to Northwestern in Rosemont Wednesday, enters MAC play looking to build momentum versus league compettion. The Huskies earned a fourth seed in the 2013 MAC Softball Tournament and advanced all the way to the MAC championship game before falling to Central Michigan.
NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe said being able to start conference play at home will help increase those chances.
“Not having to travel is key,” Sutcliffe said. “Instead of traveling, we’ll be working on our field. Any time you can play at home, you’re at a little bit of an advantage. The key is just getting games in at this point and get on the field.”
The Huskies swept Toledo and Bowling Green at Mary M. Bell Field last season, as NIU won seven of their last eight MAC games heading into the conference tournament. NIU leads the all-time series with Toledo, 33-19, while Bowling Green holds an 18-24 advantage between the two schools.
Be sure to check NIUHuskies.com for further updates on any possible changes to this weekend’s schedule.