The Northern Illinois University softball team took its offensive frustrations of the weekend out on UIC as the Huskies posted a 12-4 victory over the Flames at Flames Field Tuesday.
The Huskies (21-27) pounded out 15 hits on the day with Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) leading the charge going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Shelby Miller snapped out of her slump, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while freshman Kayti Grable (Santana, Calif./Santee) was 1-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored.
Sophomore Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) and Rebecca Rupard (Normal, Ill./Normal West) provided the pop in the middle of the order. Naegele went 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs, while Rupard was 2-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored.
“After their starter was having success early on, we were able to make some adjustments and get her out of the game,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We were able to hit the next two kids pretty good. Once Shelby got going it was kind of like getting the monkey off our back.”
After falling behind 3-0 as UIC (12-25) scored a run in each of the first three innings, NIU exploded with a five-run fourth to take a 5-3 lead. With the bases loaded and two outs, Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) scored the first run on an error by the catcher. Gremillion then singled up the middle to score two more. Miller then walked setting the table for Grable who doubled to left center to clear the bases.
UIC scored a run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Huskie lead in half. However, two innings later, NIU added to its lead in the sixth inning in a big way by knocking out five hits and taking advantage of two Flame errors to plating six runs and take an 11-4 lead.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Grable reached on an error by UIC’s third baseman to score Phelan. Naegele then singled to right to drive in Gremillion and Grable to make the score 8-4. Grable scored when she took home as Kali Kossakowski (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) stole second and reached third on an error by the second baseman. Kossakowski then scored on a Rupard single to left field to make the score 10-4 and still no outs.
With two outs and runners at second and third, Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Rupard and give NIU an 11-4 lead. The Huskies added a run in the top of the seventh for good measure on a RBI double by Naegele.
Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) picked up the win, allowing three runs, two earned on three hits and Rupard, who came in to pitch the final four innings collected the save allowing one run, unearned on four hits and two walks.
“Becca came in and shut them down,” Sutcliffe said. “Jess was getting out of innings, holding them to single runs which was good because a couple of their innings could have exploded on us. Both made the pitch when we needed them to. It was nice for them to get some work in, but not overuse them.”
The Huskies return to the diamond Friday, when NIU travels to Akron for a doubleheader with the Zips. First pitch is scheduled for noon CT.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.