The Northern Illinois University softball team busted out the big bats Saturday as it posted a 10-1 victory over Western Michigan in five innings at Mary M. Bell Field.
“Our kids did a good job offensively of not letting the umpire’s strike zone get into their heads,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “They stayed patient. In the first big inning, I think we got four runs before they even recorded an out. We didn’t do it with power in that six-run inning. We did it one single at a time.”
After falling behind, 1-0, after the first inning, NIU (14-16, 2-3) tallied six runs in the bottom of the second and put up a four spot in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of a Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) grand slam.
Pitcher Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) was impressive in the circle. The junior southpaw threw five innings of three-hit softball as she and the Huskie defense held the Bronco (11-13, 2-3) offense in check.
Sturm began the scoring when she took home when Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) reached on a fielder’s choice. Nicole Gremillion’s (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) RBI single to left gave NIU a 2-1 lead over Western Michigan.
After a Rebecca Rupard (Normal, Ill./Normal West) RBI single made it 3-1 Huskies, Kayti Grable (Santee, Calif./Santana) delivered the big blow of the inning with a two-run RBI single up the middle. Ruppard later scored on a passed ball to put NIU up by five.
With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, Miller hit her fourth home run of the season with the first grand slam of her career depositing the Allyson Kus’ pitch over the right centerfield fence. Sturm retired the Broncos in order in the top of the fifth to seal the win for NIU.
Miller went 1-for-2 with four RBIs and a run scored on the afternoon. The top of the order did a nice job of setting the table for the middle of the order. Gremillion went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored in the leadoff spot, while Rupard was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored in the two-hole.
The Huskies return to action Sunday, when NIU plays host to Western Michigan in the series finale at Mary M. Bell Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.