DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois University softball team split its doubleheader with Akron at Mary M. Bell Field Friday.
Northern Illinois (18-28, 8-8) took Game One, 3-0, before falling 7-5 in eight innings to the Zips (19-24, 5-11) in the second game.
“We’re doing a better job of putting up runs on the board earlier in the game and not have to fight out of a whole,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Unfortunately we had to do that in the second game a little bit.”
Emily Norton was masterful in the first game of the day, shutting out Akron. She allowed one hit while striking out seven. Norton struck out the side in the third, one of three one-two-three innings for the sophomore pitcher.
With the game scoreless through three-and-a-half innings, the Huskies broke through with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Nicole Gremillion opened the inning with a leadoff triple. Jennifer Barnett drove in her first run of the game with an RBI single to left field. A sacrifice bunt by Shelby Miller scored Delani Vest, who was pinch running for Barnett, from third to give NIU a 2-0 lead.
Barnett capped the scoring for NIU in the bottom of the fifth when she singled to right field to drive in Bryanna Phelan. Barnett led the way for NIU going 3-for-3 with two RBIs, while Gremillion was right behind her with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with a run scored.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh of Game Two, the Huskies rallied to tie the game. With the bases loaded and one out, Miller doubled to right centerfield to drive in a pair and pull NIU within a run. Barnett tied the game when she drove in her first run of the game and third of the day on a groundout to third.
However, a two-run homer by Rachael Ratcliffe in the top of the eighth gave the Zips the lead and momentum heading to the bottom of the inning. Akron pitcher Erin Sieler kept NIU off the board in the bottom of the frame to pick up the win.
NIU returns to the diamond Saturday when the Huskies welcome Ohio to DeKalb this weekend. Saturday and Sunday’s games will be 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively. Fans can follow all the action live via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.
This weekend is Alumni Weekend at Northern Illinois. NIU Athletics would like to welcome all former Huskie softball players, coaches and their families to Alumni Weekend April 26-28. There will be a reception at Fatty’s Pub and Grille following Saturday’s game and a pregame tailgate Sunday before the Huskies take on the Bobcats. For more information or to RSVP, contact assistant director of development Kyle Skarb at 815-753-9198.