The NIU softball team lost its doubleheader with Loyola in non-conference action Wednesday at Loyola Softball Park.
NIU (19-24) suffered a 4-3 setback to the Ramblers (19-27) in the first game, while dropping the second game, 10-9, in 10 innings after giving up a five-run lead in the bottom of the seventh.
“We have to figure out a way to close the door on the seventh and finish the game,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “It was good to see our offense putting runs on the board early and often.”
Loyola opened the scoring in game one with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer by Lauren Moore. The Huskies scored three runs in the top of the second to take a 3-2 lead.
Sophomore Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) led off the inning with a single to left and advanced to third on a Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) groundout. A single by Rebecca Rupard (Normal, Ill./Normal West) put runners at the corners with one out. Rupard stole second on a strikeout by Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale).
After a Kali Kossakowski (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) walk loaded the bases, Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) to score Naegele, while Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) knocked in a run with a single to right field. Kossakowski scored on an error by the right fielder to make the score, 3-2.
However, the Ramblers responded with a run in the bottom of the third to tie the game, 3-3, on an RBI double. Jacquelyn Murphy homered to centerfield to break the tie and give Loyola a 4-3 lead.
The NIU offense came out hot in the second game, scoring in five of the first seven innings. The Huskies opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second when Rupard scored on an error by the centerfielder.
After the Ramblers took a 2-1 lead with a pair in the bottom of the second, NIU retook the lead, 3-2, with two runs of its own in the top of the third. A two-run triple by Naegele and an RBI groundout by Rupard in the top of the fifth gave the Huskies a 6-2 advantage. However, Loyola would not go away, plating a pair in the bottom of the frame to pull within two.
A Kayti Grable (Santana, Calif./Santee) RBI single in the sixth extended NIU’s lead to 7-4. The Huskies added two more insurance runs in the top of the seventh, but it wouldn’t be enough. Loyola rallied with five runs on four hits and capitalized on two Huskie errors to tie the game, 9-9, and send it into extra innings.
The Huskie offense was shut down from the eighth inning on, mustering just one hit and two walks in the final three innings.
After back-to-back walks to start the inning, a sacrifice bunt pushed the runners to second and third. An intentional walk loaded the bases setting up a force out at every base. However, Tarran Shaffer singled to left to plate the winning run.
The Huskies return to action Friday when NIU welcomes Kent State to Mary M. Bell Field. First pitch for game one is set for 1 p.m. with the second game to follow.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.