The Northern Illinois University softball team rallied to defeat Eastern Michigan, 8-6, in 11 innings Saturday at Varsity Field.
Trailing 4-2 in the top of the seventh with two on and two outs, NIU’s (19-21, 7-6) Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) singled to left field to drive in pinch runner Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) to pull within a run. Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) then tied the game, 4-4, on a RBI single to right center.
“I feel like we’ve lost a couple games in the seventh with two outs,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “It was nice for us to have a little payback and see us come out on top in the seventh.”
With the score tied, 4-4, in the top of the ninth, Naegele homered over the left center fence to put the Huskies up, 6-4. However, Eastern Michigan (9-30, 0-11) would not go away as the Eagles plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to extend the game further.
In the top of the 11th with runners on second and third with out, Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) singled to the pitcher to score Sturm from third. An RBI single by Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) plated another run to give the Huskies an 8-6 advantage.
Sturm, who came in to pitch in the top of the 10th, gave up a lead off double to start the bottom of the 11th. She would strand that runner as retired the next three batters to end the game and pick up the win.
Naegele and Kayti Grable (Santee, Calif./Santana) led the way each going 3-for-6 with a run scored. Naegele drove in a game-high three runs, while Grable was right behind her with two RBIs. Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) went 1-for-4 with two runs scored. Gremillion did a great job setting the table, going 3-for-5 with two walks and an RBI from the leadoff spot.
“Naegele’s been pretty consistent for us throughout the year,” Sutcliffe said. “The home run was huge. It put us up two. She did a great job for us today and has been a pretty solid force for us.”
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.