The Northern Illinois University softball team suffered a 4-3 setback to Eastern Michigan in eight innings Sunday at Varsity Field.
Playing in its third straight extra inning game, Eastern Michigan (10-30, 1-11) entered the bottom of the seventh trailing the Huskies, 3-2. With two outs and runners at the corners, the Eagles scored on RBI groundout by Abby Davidson.
NIU (19-22, 7-7) went down in order in the top of the eighth, giving the Eagles a chance for the win in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Abi Clark singled to left field to score Amanda Stanton, who reached on a hit by pitch to lead off the inning, from third for the victory.
After Eastern Michigan took an opening, 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the first, NIU came back with three runs in the top of the fourth.
A leadoff walk by Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) and a single by Kayti Grable (Santee, Calif./Santana) set the table for sophomore Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest). Naegele homered to left center, her second in as many days. Unfortunately, that would be all the runs the Huskies would score.
Rebecca Rupard (Normal, Ill./Normal West) was solid in the pitcher’s circle, going four-and-a-third innings, allowing two runs, while scattering five hits. Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) came in to pitch the final three innings, but was unable to close out the game for Rupard.
“Becca did another great job on the mound,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We are just leaving too many runners on base and not capitalizing with runners in scoring position.
“We need to get back to basics this week in practice and refocus for Loyola, Kent State and Buffalo.”
Grable led the way for the Huskie offense, going 3-for-3 with a run scored, while Naegele went 1-for-3 with three RBIs.
The Huskies return to the diamond Wednesday when NIU travels to Chicago to take on Loyola in a doubleheader. First pitch for game one is set for 3 p.m. For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.