RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Northern Illinois University softball team ended its spring break trip with a 7-0 shutout victory over UC Riverside in the final game of the Highlander Classic Sunday afternoon.
“We finished the week on a high note playing great softball,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Jessica pitched a great game. We were able to capitalize on our lead runners getting on base and continued to score and put pressure on the defense every inning. We played a total team this weekend and hope to build off our successes.”
The Huskies (10-17) pounded out 11 hits on the afternoon with Bryanna Phelan setting the tone from the top of the order, while Ashley Kopp delivered the pop from the bottom of the line up. Phelan went 2-for-3 three with three runs scored and Kopp wrapped up an outstanding tournament with a 2-for-3 afternoon with an RBI and a run scored.
Nicole Gremillion put the Huskies on the board first with an RBI double to left center to drive in Phelan. Kopp added to NIU’s 1-0 lead with her second home run, a shot over the left field fence, in the top of the fourth. Jennifer Barnett knocked in a run in the top of the fifth with an RBI single to score Phelan.
Northern Illinois added to its 3-0 lead in the seventh with a four spot. With the bases loaded and one out, Barnett coaxed a walk to drive in a run. Shelby Miller’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded drove in the second run of the inning and fifth of the game for NIU. Gremillion, who advanced to third on the sacrifice fly, scored on a wild pitch to make the score 6-0. Delani Vest wrapped up the scoring with an RBI single.
Jessica Sturm was solid in the pitcher’s circle for the Huskies, throwing the complete game shutout. She allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four in seven innings of work. The Huskies return to the diamond Mar. 27 when NIU plays host to Loyola in a doubleheader in the home opener. First pitch for Game One is set for 4 p.m. with the second game to follow.