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The 2013 season marks the 25th anniversary of Northern Illinois softball's run to the Women's College World Series in 1988. We caught up with the head coach of that team, Dee Abrahamson, to get her best memories from that season.
Q: Heading into the 1988 season, did you think that this team could make a run at the Women's College World Series?
Dee Abrahamson: "Well, it was kind of a different time when I came to NIU. We were still playing under the AIAW system, since the NCAA didn't sponsor softball and wasn't doing women's sports, in general. We had been pretty successful going to regionals through the AIAW system. When the NCAA started championships in 1982, that changed the whole format of everything. It was different and it changed the whole power structure. Under the AIAW, the middle of the country was really the heart of softball. Illinois was really good. Northwestern was very successful. Western Illinois, Texas, Missouri, Iowa. The middle of the country was really the heart of softball. When the NCAA took over championships, it spread out a lot more, mainly on the west coast. The Pac-12 started putting more money into their programs to be competitive. More recently, the SEC has put more money into their programs to be competitive. It was just a different time. We were successful in the AIAW regionals, so when the NCAA took over, it was a different format, different time. We thought we were playing very well. We thought we had a good opportunity at regionals again, but when you get to that level, you have to be good and you have to be lucky. You have to get a hit at the right time. You have to get an out at the right time when the other team has the bases loaded. In regionals, we turned a triple play, which is not something you expect to happen, but it got us out of a huge jam. We were in a position where the people who were involved in that play could make it happen and we got ourselves out and hold onto our lead. So, if you did ask me at the beginning of the year if we would make it to the Women's College World Series...everybody's always hopeful, but realistically, no, we didn't think we were going to make it there. We did think that we were good enough to be in regionals. When you get to a four-team region - there were only 32 teams in the tournament, so you had to be in the top 32 - all four teams are going in thinking the same thing that 'Wow, we got a chance, now who is going to make it work.'"
Q: After notching a few big wins early in the year against Florida State, Northwestern and Western Illinois, when did the team believe that 1988 could be a special year?
DA: "I think it was the way they felt about each other. This particular group of people bonded really well and I think you need that. The people who were not playing as much, certainly not as much as they wanted to, were very supportive of the people who were playing. That's a special thing because it is hard to be selfless sometimes and realize that 'I would love to be out there, but this person is on a hitting streak or this person can run faster than I can, so they deserve to be in the lineup.' It was really that we felt that we were a really good, tight unit. When you feel like that, you feel a little more invincible where they can count on each other to find a way to get ourselves out of jams and be successful. After our Florida trip that year, we felt very good about that. Beating Northwestern, certainly at that time since they were a powerhouse in the country, just kind of added fuel to the fire that we could go a long way here if we stay healthy."
"We had two really key players in the mix. Beth Schrader was a very special pitcher at the time. She was going to be able to fight for us in the circle and make a huge difference for us on defense. On offense, we had Jill Justin who was an incredible hitter. She was one of the best hitters in the game. It was kind of unfortunate that there weren't Olympics around at the time. When she played in the summer, she played for arguably the best women's team in the country and most of those players, the younger ones, went on to be Olympians and were very fortunate. That's a great one-two punch. If you got a pitcher who can keep the other team from scoring and you got a hitter who can provide the offense on your side, you can win a lot of games."
Q: After coming from the brink of elimination and knocking off Illinois State with two wins in the regional final, what was the first thing that went through your mind when you realized "We're going to the WCWS"?
DA: "My thought was 'Wow, how are we going to do this?' We believed all along we had a chance. We got up that day; we were coming out of the loser's bracket, so we had to win two to knock them off. We talked on the bus about doing what it took for as long as it took and giving ourselves a chance to be there. When we actually got that final out, it's all the things going through your head like 'What next?' You want to be happy and you want to celebrate, but in my brain, it's thinking about 'Okay, now what are the next steps?' because we had never been there. So when am I going to get information about hotel and flights and I have to get a bus and a van and my mind was racing. I wanted to figure out the next step to make this an even better experience than we had at regionals. For the first hour or two, it was my mind racing about the things that needed to be done and the people I needed to talk to - the media folks, the people at home, our athletic director. All of those things, it wasn't until we were on the bus on the way back that I got to sit back and say 'Wow, that was amazing and hopefully we can make this next step amazing, too.' I should really ask some other people about what that's like, if they have the same thing that they can't get their mind to stop racing about all the next steps until they sit back."
Q: Your first opponent in the WCWS was UCLA, a team that had won three of the first six NCAA Division I softball national titles. Were there any nerves heading into that first game?
DA: "We knew that we were definitely the underdogs going in. We were not a big name school going in with a long tradition like other people did. That's kind of an NIU Athletics feeling anyway that, in most respects, we were an underdog. We kind of embraced that role of 'We know more about them than they know about us.' We just needed to take advantage of that. We had obviously seen them play, especially for me because I had worked the WCWS for so many years. I've seen UCLA play. I've seen how they coach. I've seen their players. They haven't seen us, that's for sure, so we might have a little advantage going in. They may be looking forward to the next team in their bracket and the tough team to beat and figure that they'll beat Northern Illinois. We were hoping to assume that role that NIU often assumes, which is fly under the radar and play hard and give yourself a chance to win. We did, but we didn't quite finish. We were in the game right to the end and had a chance. We just didn't get a hit where we needed it."
Q: Overall, what was your best memory from that year?
DA: "That's a really hard question because there were so many good ones. A lot of them happened on the field. Probably, the best one was seeing the joy on those kids' faces when they actually were able to do what they set out to do, which was play great softball. Just how happy everybody was. You work your tail off to do lots of things. Sometimes, when it works out for you, it's just incredibly happy. Just how happy they all were as a group and happy for each other."
"We had an amazingly tight team. We had a lot of good junior and senior leadership. I had a great assistant coach (Donna Martin) who had been with me for a long time. Everybody knew what their role was and did it. That's definitely a thing to celebrate when everybody knows what's needed and they get it done and it works in your favor."
Northern Illinois senior student-athletes Lauren
Eberts (women's soccer), Samantha Grams (volleyball), Shaakira Haywood (women's
basketball), Jenelle McCalla (track & field) and Amanda Sheppard (softball)
have been honored as 2013 Outstanding Women Student Awards for their
contributions to Northern Illinois University. Awarded annually since 1980, the
honor is given by the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women to 48
women across all disciplines.
Eberts, who has a 3.762 GPA in public health, played
in every minute of the team's 2012 season. The senior defender helped NIU allow
the fewest goals in the Mid-American Conference and the second-fewest shots on
goal in NIU's program history.
Grams maintains a 3.805 GPA as a health sciences
major. The Forest Park, Ill., native earned Academic
All-MAC honorable mention laurels during her senior campaign with the Huskies
after playing in 24 matches and 62 sets in 2012. Grams totaled 28 kills, 39
blocks and 14 digs during the year, scoring 48 total points during the season.
Haywood has a 3.687 GPA in psychology.
in all 30 games, starting 12 at center in 2012-13 and has played in 37 straight
games dating back to February of 2012. Haywood scored a career-high 73 points,
averaging 2.4 points a game, shooting 43.3 percent (26-60) on the season.
McCalla, who has a perfect 4.0 GPA in psychology, holds the NIU school
record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:01.76. This year, the Whitby,
Ontario, Canada, native qualified for the MAC Indoor Championships in the 60
hurdles, while also contributing on NIU's 4x400 relay teams.
Sheppard has a 3.495 GPA in kinesiology and helped the Huskies reach
the 2013 MAC Championship game. The Oak Forest, Ill., native batted .298 and
ranked second on the team with a .470 slugging percentage, while playing in all
57 games. Sheppard also was second on the team with 18 extra-base hits,
including a team-best 12 doubles and five home runs.
Track & Field: NIU took 11th place at the MAC Outdoor Championships over the weekend. Janay Mitchell accounted for eight team points by finishing third in the 100 meters and seventh in the 200 meters. Meanwhile, Sidra Sherrill (shot put), Natalie Tarter (heptathlon) and Jamie Burr (800 meters) also scored points for the Huskies.
Track & Field: Northern Illinois closed out their regular season over the weekend with a busy three meet schedule. At the Penn Relays, the Huskies got a MAC auto bid from Sidra Sherrill in the shot put, while Janay Mitchell solidified her spot in the 100 meters. Meanwhile, NIU got strong showings at West Chester and UW-Whitewater. Men's Tennis: Northern Illinois saw their season come to an end as they hosted the 2013 MAC tournament. The Huskies advanced to their first title match since 2004 when they upset No. 1 Ball State, 4-2, Friday. Their run ended Saturday, though, when they fell to Western Michigan, 4-3.
Track & Field: Northern Illinois dominated the competition at the Huskie Open with nine event titles. Megan Gregory (100 hurdles, 200 meters), Janay Mitchell (100 meters), Ida Burbulla (high jump), Sidra Sherrill (shot put), Alex Schad (long jump) all earned wins, along with the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. Out west at the Beach Invitational, Meghan Heuer earned an automatic bid to MACs in the 800 meters. Men's Tennis: Northern Illinois closed out their regular season Sunday with a big 4-3 win over Buffalo. The win helped secure NIU a spot in next weekend's MAC Championships, which the Huskies host.
Track & Field: Northern Illinois took third place at the Chicagoland Championships in Romeoville, Ill. Natalie Tarter, Sidra Sherrill and Megan Gregory each claimed event titles for the Huskies, while Tarter's 4,206 points in the heptathlon set a new school record.
Baseball: The Huskies moved to 4-2 in MAC play this weekend with a three-game sweep of Akron in Avon, Ohio. The series began Friday with a tight 4-3 win courtesy of two runs in the top of the ninth. NIU got another one-run win Saturday with a 2-1 win behind Eli Anderson's complete game performance. Northern got the sweep on Sunday by crushing the Zips, 14-4. Track & Field: Northern Illinois had several strong performances over the weekend at the Texas Relays and Raleigh Relays. Megan Gregory and Meghan Heuer each clinched MAC automatic qualifying marks to highlight the split-squad weekend.
Northern Illinois' 2012-13 season came to a close Monday night with a tight 45-44 loss at Eastern Michigan
. Aksel Bolin and J.J. Cravatta each scored nine points to pace the Huskies.
Track & Field: The Huskies kicked off their outdoor season Friday in Tampa, Fla., with several quality performances. Meghan Heuer won the 1500 meters, while 10 different individuals combined for 14 top 10 finishes.
Northern Illinois dominated their Senior Night showdown with Eastern Michigan, winning 194.775-192.550
. Megan Melendez, Jaelyn Olson, Kim Gotlund and Natalie Sutter all won individual honors on the night.
Baseball: Northern Illinois went 1-2 at Minnesota's Dairy Queen Classic with all three contests coming down to the last inning. In Friday's tournament lid-lifter, the Huskies fell to Utah, 6-1. On Saturday afternoon, NIU and Dartmouth were locked in a pitchers' duel, but it was the Big Green who came away with a 1-0 win. In the tournament finale, Alex Klonowski's complete game two-hitter lifted the Huskies to a 2-1 win over the host Golden Gophers. Softball: NIU split their Sunday doubleheader in Carbondale, Ill., as part of Southern Illinois' Coach B Classic. In the first game, the Huskies squeaked out a 3-2 win against Butler, but lost in extras to Saint Louis in the second game.
NIU split a pair of Saturday contests
at home. In the first match, the Huskies swept Western Illinois, 7-0, before falling to the Green Bay Phoenix, 4-1.
The Huskies took second place Saturday
at the 36-hole Forest Hills Collegiate. Bryce Emory paced NIU with a fifth place showing.
The Huskies got their first two MAC wins of the year, both coming on the road. NIU shot 59.2 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from three-point range Wednesday to down Ohio, 73-52
. Sunday at Kent State, the Huskies topped the Golden Flashes, 52-47
Northern Illinois continued to struggle at home, but did pick up a midweek win on the road. NIU started the week off with a rain-soaked 2-1 loss
to Northwestern at Geneva's Elfstrom Stadium on Tuesday. The Huskies rebounded with a dramatic 11-9 win
at UIC Wednesday. However, Central Michigan added to Northern's home woes, sweeping the Huskies in the three-game set with scores of 11-2
The Huskies' season came to an end over the weekend as they dropped two games to Western Michigan. After leading early in Saturday's tilt, NIU fell to the Broncos, 5-3
. Things were very similar in the second game of the series on Sunday, as NIU took a 2-1 lead through the first inning and a half. However, WMU put up one run in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-2 decision
Northern Illinois finished in seventh place
as hosts of the 2012 Mid-American Conference Championships
at Rich Harvest Farms after the final round of the tournament was cancelled due to inclement weather. Individually, freshman Thomas Dunne led the way for the Huskies with a tie for eighth place.
Two Huskie squads - baseball and track & field - are in action during finals week. The track & field team heads to Central Michigan for the 2012 Mid-American Outdoor Championships, which take place Thursday through Saturday. For baseball, they head to Kalamazoo Friday for a pivotal three-game set against the Western Michigan Broncos.
Northern Illinois went 2-3 during the week, but grabbed a critical series victory during the weekend against Eastern Michigan. After a 13-2 loss to UW-Milwaukee
and a 4-3 defeat at Bradley
, the Huskies rebounded with a tight 1-0 victory
in the series opener against the Eagles of EMU. The home-standing Eagles would even the series
with a 7-5 win on Saturday, but NIU took the three-game set
with a 3-1 win.
The Huskies struggled in the diamond, but gained a big victory in MAC action. NIU began their week with a 12-3 loss against Northwestern
. Yet, Northern grabbed a big 4-3 win
against league-leading Bowling Green before losing the second game, 15-2. The Huskies would finish their weekend with two losses
in a Sunday doubleheader at Toledo by 10-0 and 4-3 margins.Track & Field:
Northern Illinois capped its regular season off on a high note over the weekend at the Drake Relays and UW-Whitewater Alternative Meet. In Des Moines, the Huskies posted two top-five finishes, including a third-place finish in the 4x100 relay, and broke five school records. At UW-Whitewater, NIU brought home six event titles, while seven different athletes set new personal records.Women's Golf:
NIU concluded its
with an eighth-place finish at the 2012 Mid-American
Conference Women's Golf Championships at Hawthorns Golf & Country
Club in Fishers, Ind. Sunday. Senior Kelsie Passolt finished her NIU career on high note, turning
in her lowest score of the season for a three-round event carding a 223
(78-80-75) to tie for eighth place, a career-best finish at the MAC
With a 3-2 lead late in the contest, the Huskies fell to Western Michigan
in the Mid-American Conference Tournament
semifinals, 4-3. The Huskies end their impressive 2012 season 21-7.
Northern Illinois dropped its quarterfinal
of the Mid-American Conference Tournament against the No.
2-seeded Akron Zips (22-3, 7-1 MAC) on Friday, 4-0. The loss marked the
end of the Huskies' season as the team finished with an 11-12 overall
record and a 2-6 mark in MAC play.
Three NIU teams will compete in the last week before final exams. Men's golf hosts the MAC Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., starting Friday. Meanwhile, baseball takes on Northwestern at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva, Ill., and travels to UIC before hosting Central Michigan in a three-game weekend series, while softball caps off their regular season with games at Notre Dame and Western Michigan.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch
showed that he plans a seamless transition into the starting role as he
threw for 402 yards on 29-of-44 passing with four touchdowns Saturday
at Huskie Stadium in Northern Illinois' Red-White Spring Football Game
Lynch led the Red team, composed of the Huskie starting units on
offense and defense, to a 31-6 victory over the White team in the final
spring football practice of 2012.
Despite strong pitching, the Huskies were swept at home over the weekend by the Toledo Rockets. The series opened with a 7-3 win by UT
despite the Huskies holding the lead through seven innings. The Huskie offense struggled again on Saturday with a 5-1 loss
, then dropped the finale in extras by a 4-3 margin
It was a rough week for Northern Illinois as they lost all five games during the week. The week began with a 6-1 loss at UIC
before hitting the road for two MAC series. Things did not improve at Ohio, though, as NIU dropped both games of a doubleheader
, 4-1 and 9-3. The Huskies fell Saturday at Akron, 8-6
, then closed out the week with a 12-6 defeat
against the Zips.Track & Field:
The Huskies had a big week at two major meets during the weekend, breaking five school records between the Kansas Relays and Mt. SAC Relays. On Thursday, Courtney Oldenburg broke her own NIU mark in the 1500 meters with a 4:27.64 run, while Juliane Totzke toppled the 10,000 meters record with a 36:23.93 clip. Friday saw Chanel Kellyman set a new record in the 100 meters and Roneisha Frye (100 hurdles) and Rebecca Cronin (800 meters) added their names to the record books on Saturday.Men's Golf:
The Northern Illinois men's golf team wrapped up the regular season
portion of its schedule with a seventh-place finish at the Boilermaker
at the Kampen Course on the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex.
Freshman Thomas Dunne was the top-finishing Huskie, taking 13th with a final round 75.
Men's Tennis: The Northern Illinois men's tennis team surpassed the 20-win plateau for
the first time since 1989 Friday with wins over Chicago State,
7-0, and Illinois-Chicago, 5-0. The Huskies close the regular season
with a regular season record of 21-6 and MAC record of 4-1.
The Huskies dropped their final two regular season games at home this weekend. NIU was swept by Akron, 7-0
, on Saturday, then dropped their Senior Day showdow
n with Buffalo, 5-2. The squad finishes their regular season at 11-11 overall and 2-6 in the MAC.
Huskie teams will compete this week. Three programs (men's tennis, women's tennis and women's golf) will head to their respective MAC Championships, including women's tennis hosting the conference tournament in DeKalb. In addition, softball hosts their final home game of the year Wednesday against Northwestern and baseball welcomes Milwaukee on Tuesday.
The Huskies' week got off to a rough start Tuesday when they were dealt a 22-3 loss
from Illinois State. The team rebounded quite well on Friday, as NIU took an 8-7 victory
against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks. Following Saturday's washout, the Huskies claimed the series behind a 7-5 victory
in Sunday's first game, then got the sweep in the night cap
with a wild 13-11 win against MU.
Northern Illinois went 2-3 during their week-long homestand at Mary M. Bell Field. On Tuesday, the Huskies' bats were silenced in a 6-1 decision
against DePaul. Things would not improve on Friday, as NIU got swept in a doubleheader
against Buffalo, 7-3 and 8-3. The team got back on the winning track Saturday with a 7-3 win against Kent State
, then completed the two-game sweep with a 9-4 win on Senior Day
.Track & Field:
The Northern Illinois track & field team closed out their weekend at
the Lee Calhoun Memorial Invitational on a high note, taking four event
titles Saturday in Macomb, Ill.
Despite holding several of
their top performers out of the meet, the Huskies took third place in
the 13-team field with 126 points. Marquette won the meet with 202
points, while host Western Illinois was runner-up with 165.5 points.Men's Golf:
Junior Kurtis Luedtke recorded his best collegiate tournament finish,
tying for eighth, helping lead Northern Illinois to a
tie for fourth place
at the COG Mizzou Intercollegiate. The Huskies
posted a final round score of 298 to finish the 54-hole event with a
total of 887, tied with IUPUI. Host Missouri won the team title
for the second consecutive season with a total score of 856, the Tigers'
Ryan Zech took individual medalist honors with an eight-under score of
208. Women's Golf:
The Huskies finished seventh at the Falcon
hosted by Bowling Green Friday and Saturday. Allie Parthie moved up seven spots after trimming two
strokes off her first round score of 80 to card a 158 and finish in
ninth. Senior Kelsie Passolt made the biggest jump, climbing 15
spots to 22nd after posting a second round 80 to finish with a 163.
Men's Tennis: NIU went 1-1 over the weekend in their final home matches of the season. The Huskies stopped Toledo Saturday, 5-2, to move to 3-0 in MAC play. However, the team's unbeaten streak came to an end Sunday when Buffalo topped Northern, 5-2, in Rockford.
The Huskies split their two MAC matches for the second straight week. On Friday, NIU was bested by conference-leading Miami (Ohio), 6-1
, in Oxford. The team ended their road trip on a positive note, though, with a tight 4-3 win against Ball State
Six Huskie teams are in action during the upcoming week. The big event in DeKalb this weekend in SpringFest, which takes place Saturday with the Spring Football Game, baseball playing Toledo and women's tennis battling Akron.
Northern Illinois came close to grabbing a win over the weekend, but Ohio emerged with a three-game sweep over the Huskies in DeKalb. The NIU bullpen lost control of the game Friday in a 13-2 Bobcat victory
. The two schools were locked in a pitcher's dual on Saturday - including NIU's Jake Hermsen throwing 138 pitches and getting seven strikeouts. Yet, Ohio got timely hitting for a 3-1 win
. The series concluded with a back-and-forth affair that saw both teams combine for 29 runs and 31 hits, but the Bobcats got the sweep in a 19-10 marathon
Northern Illinois rebounded from a tough first week of April to grab thee conference wins over the weekend. NIU would split a Friday doubleheader
with Eastern Michigan, dropping the first game, 2-0, before grabbing the second in a 4-0 win. Playing at Central Michigan on Saturday, the Huskies dominated the Chippewas in a 5-1 win
. The next day, NIU got a go-ahead two-run home run from Dani Parrish in the top of the seventh for a 4-2 win against CMU
.Track & Field:
The Northern Illinois track & field team won the Chicagoland
Friday in Chicago behind six event titles
and several top five finishes. NIU scored 174 team points on the
blustery day to take first in the 18-team field, followed by DePaul in
second place with 136 and UIC in third with 85.Women's Golf:
The Northern Illinois University women's golf team finished ninth at
the Marsh Landing Invitational
hosted by the University of Cincinnati
Tuesday. The Huskies were unable to move up the leaderboard after shooting
a final round 332 for a total of 697. Stetson won the event, carding
an 894, with SU's Alex Buelow winning the individual championship
posting a 217.
Gymnastics: Northern Illinois gymnasts Kim Gotlund and Tanya Rachan had mixed results in representing the
Huskies in the 2012 NCAA Gymnastics Champaign Regional on Saturday at
the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall. Representing NIU with two competitors in the NCAAs for the first time
since 2009, Gotlund had one of her best all-around scores of the season
while Rachan slipped up for the first time all season in the floor
Northern Illinois stayed unbeaten in MAC action with a 6-1 win against Ball State. After dropping the doubles point, the Huskies rattled off six singles wins to defeat the 2011 MAC champions. On Sunday, NIU lost 4-3 to Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis.
The Huskies split two conference matches in DeKalb over the weekend. NIU dropped a 5-2 match
to Eastern Michigan on Friday, but rebounded to knock off Toledo, 4-3
, on Saturday.
Seven Huskie teams are in action during the upcoming week. Softball hosts DePaul Tuesday, Buffalo Friday and Kent State Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, baseball hosts Illinois State on Tuesday and men's tennis welcomes Toledo (Saturday) and Buffalo (Sunday) to Rockford.
The Huskies posted a 3-1 record during the week with a quartet of home games. On Tuesday, NIU withstood a late Milwaukee rally to defeat the Panthers, 5-4
.In their Mid-American Conference home opener Friday, the Huskies defeated Akron, 10-5
. The Zips, though, evened the series with an 8-1 victory on Saturday
. Northern's offense awoke on Sunday with 11 hits in an 8-2 win in the rubber match
The Huskies opened their home slate Tuesday against in-state foe Illinois State. However, Northern Illinois was dealt a 5-0 loss by the Redbirds
. The next day, NIU dropped both games of a doubleheader
with Loyola, 10-3 and 9-1. In their conference opening doubleheader on Friday, the Huskies suffered two narrow defeats to Miami (Ohio)
with an 8-5 loss in game one and a 7-6 extra innings heartbreaker in the nightcap. NIU grabbed their first MAC win of the season Saturday with a 12-5 throttling of Ball State
before falling 11-10 in eight innings
on Sunday to the Cardinals.Track & Field:
Northern Illinois broke three school records
over the weekend with athletes competing at both the Texas Relays and the adidas Raleigh Relays. In Austin, Texas, the 4x400 relay team of Chanel Kellyman, Rebecca Cronin, Julianne Cronin and Rasheta Butler set the new NIU standard with a 3:46.21 run. In the sprint medley relay later that day, Kellyman, Janay Mitchell, Butler and Rebecca Cronin added their names into the record books at a 3:57.72 clip. Meanwhile, Juliane Totzke broke the 5000 meters record in North Carolina with a 16:57.17 run.Men's Golf:
The Northern Illinois men's golf team concluded play at the Irish Creek
Collegiate on Sunday, closing the tournament with a 10th place finish
Junior Kurtis Luedtke was the highest-finishing individual for NIU, tying for 26th with a 54-hole total of 217.Women's Golf:
The Northern Illinois University women's golf team struggled in its
final round, but still finished in the top 10, placing seventh at the
18th Annual Saluki Invitational
at Hickory Ridge Golf Course Monday. The Huskies shot a second round 325 to finish the tournament with
a 642. The host Salukis of Southern Illinois won the event with a 608.
SIU's Cassie Rushing took the individual championship with a 146.Men's Tennis:
Northern Illinois took two non-conference matches over the weekend to improve their record to 17-5. The Huskies earned a solid 5-2 win against Saint Louis
on Saturday and edged Bradley, 4-3
, to close out the weekend.
The Huskies moved back above the .500 mark over the weekend with wins in their final two non-conference matches of the year. NIU handled Valparaiso, 6-1
, on Friday and followed that up with a 7-0 sweep of Western Illinois
Six Huskie teams will compete during the upcoming week. Among the events in DeKalb include baseball hosting Ohio for a three-game set, women's tennis welcoming Toledo and Eastern Michigan, and men's tennis hosting Ball State.
Huskies Kevin Fanta and Brad Dieckhaus
were eliminated Thursday at the NCAA Championships at Scottrade Center
in St. Louis, Mo. to end the Northern Illinois wrestling team's 2011-12
. Fanta lost to #9 Nick Dardanes of Minnesota, 12-4, then was
eliminated by pin against Iowa State's Luke Goettl. For Dieckhaus, he
lost an 8-4 decision to Nathan Schiedel of Binghamton before being
forced to forfeit his wrestleback match due to injury.
Senior Tanya Rachan
scored a 9.900 on floor exercise
, the top score by a Northern Illinois
gymnast on floor since 2005 and the first 9.9 by a Huskie on any event
since 2009, to lead NIU at the State of Illinois Classic Saturday in Champaign, Ill. With the score, Rachan tied for first on
floor exercise and was named to the 2012 All-State team. Rachan's score led the Huskies to a season-best 49.000 team total
on floor exercise, the team's top score on any event all season and a
mark the floor squad had targeted since the first meet of the season. Natalie Sutter scored a 9.825 on floor exercise to tie for fifth and freshman Peyton Taylor added a career-high 9.800 to take seventh place.Baseball:
The Huskies went 2-4 during the week. After dropping 7-2
decisions to Saint Louis in midweek play, NIU headed to Carbondale, Ill., to take on Illinois and Southern Illinois. After a 6-4 Friday loss
to the Salukis, the Huskies were defeated by the Fighting Illini, 7-2
. Northern rebounded with two wins to finish the week. Saturday afternoon, NIU topped SIU, 9-4
, then followed that up with a 3-0 shutout of UI
Northern Illinois went 5-4 in a busy week in Florida. NIU began the week with a Tuesday sweep against Canisius and Florida Gulf Coast
, then split their Wednesday pair of games
against Iona and Central Florida. At the USF Tournament, the Huskies got off to a quick start by defeating Towson, 7-0, and Bryant, 7-6
. The remaining games, though, did not go NIU's way. On Saturday, the Huskies lost 4-1 to North Florida and 5-1 to South Florida
. Their week was completed with a 2-0 loss against Boston
The Huskies competed in two tournaments during the Spring Break week. On Monday and Tuesday, NIU finished 12th at the Don Benbow Invitational
, with Allie Parthie leading the Huskies with a tie for 15th. At the NIU Snowbird, Northern held on to seventh place
, while Parthie paced NIU with a fifth place showing.
Track & Field:
The Northern Illinois track & field team got their outdoor season
off to a quick start in Saturday
with two event titles and two
records at the UCF Black & Gold Challenge. As a team, the Huskies
combined for 15 top five finishes and nine personal records in the
The Huskies went a perfect 4-0 in Florida. On Monday, NIU defeated North Carolina Central and Quinnipiac
by identical 6-1 scores. They followed that up on Tuesday with a pair of 6-1 wins against Youngstown State and Bucknell
NIU split their two games in Florida during the week. The Huskies defeated Bethune-Cookman, 5-2
, to end the Wildcats' 10-match winning streak. The next day, Northern dropped a 6-1 decision to Embry-Riddle
Huskie teams will be in action this upcoming week. Baseball opens their
home schedule Tuesday with a game against UIC at 3 p.m., then begin MAC
play during the weekend at Kent State. Additionally, men's golf has two
tournaments in Florida, while men's and women's tennis open conference
play on the road. Women's golf is also in action, as they head to
Southern Illinois for the SIU Invitational.
The Huskies' season came to an end this week with a big upset and a near miss the second time. NIU traveled to Ypsilanti, Mich., Monday to take on fifth-seeded Eastern Michigan. Led by Tony Nixon's 14 points, Northern knocked off the Eagles, 48-45
. The Huskies nearly found that magic again Wednesday night in Cleveland, but Western Michigan pulled away late for a 71-54 win
Northern Illinois defied the odds and made a deep run in the MAC Tournament all the way to the quarterfinals. The Huskies were stuck in a nail-biter Wednesday afternoon against Akron. Trailing 60-59 with under ten seconds to go, Kim Davis grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it in with six seconds remaining to give NIU a 61-60 victory over the Zips
. Their season came to an end Thursday afternoon, though, when third-seeded Toledo earned a 72-62 win
Northern Illinois struggled on its first event, the
uneven parallel bars, and went on to a disappointing third-place finish
and an overall score of 192.075
Saturday night at the EMU Eagle
Invitational. The Huskies finished behind host Eastern Michigan, who totaled a
193.850, and runner-up Air Force (192.250), while picking up a win over
Temple (190.725), to put their season record at 5-7 overall. NIU
finishes its MAC regular season slate 2-4.
The Huskies took two of three over the weekend at the Riverview Inn Challenge in Clarksville, Tenn. They began the weekend with a 5-1 win over host Austin Peay
when Jordan Rishavy drove in the winning run in the top of the 10th inning. NIU repeated that performance Saturday with a 6-5 win against Arkansas State
. Their weekend ended with a 13-9 loss to Dayton
Northern Illinois split their four games at the DeMarini Invitational in Columbia, Mo.
Saturday saw the Huskies throttle Alcorn State, 11-3, in five innings
and top Boise State, 5-1. The next day, NIU dropped a 4-3 decision to Boise State
and a 8-0 loss to host Missouri.Men's Tennis:
With two singles matches left to play, Northern Illinois was at the
heels of No. 68 Brown, 3-2. However, the Huskies were unable to overcome
of the deficit and fell to Bears, 5-2
. The loss drops NIU to 10-5 on the season.
Spring break week will have many teams competing in warmer climes, as five of the seven teams in action (women's golf, men's tennis, softball, women's tennis, track & field) will be in Florida. Meanwhile, baseball has a two game set in St. Louis before a weekend round-robin at Southern Illinois, while wrestling caps off their season at the NCAA Championships in the Gateway City.
The Huskies closed out their regular season by splitting two hard-fought games. On Wednesday's Senior Night, NIU came from behind to defeat Toledo, 65-61
, behind double figures from Abdel Nader and Aksel Bolin. That momentum partially carried into Saturday, where the visiting Huskies grabbed an early lead on Ball State. However, the Cardinals emerged with a 62-51 win
in Muncie.Women's Basketball:
Northern Illinois faced Western Michigan twice in DeKalb this week with far different results. On Tuesday, the Broncos spoiled Senior Night with a 66-64 overtime victory in the Convo
, despite Satavia Taylor's 20 points. The Huskies, though, exacted revenge on their MAC West rivals in the first round of the conference tournament, handing the Broncos a 68-51 defeat
Senior Brad Dieckhaus and sophomore Kevin Fanta
both secured bids in the NCAA Championships
for Northern Illinois Sunday at the MAC Championships. As
a team, the Huskies finished fifth with 41 points, falling just a
half-point behind Ohio for fourth. Central Michigan won the tournament
title with 89 points, followed by Kent State, Eastern Michigan and the
host Bobcats. Buffalo took sixth place on the day.Gymnastics:
The Huskies recorded the second-highest team score in school history en route to a
195.100-194.350 dual meet victory over Illinois State
Sunday in Normal. NIU posted its best team totals of the year on uneven parallel
bars, balance beam and floor exercise with six scores of 9.800 or higher
in three different events. The Huskies did not count a score lower than
9.650 on the day while raising their record to 4-5 overall. Northern
Illinois' total topped its previous season best of 194.775, set Feb. 11
at Bowling Green. The 195.100 matches the mark posted on Feb. 1, 2004 at
Kent State which ranks behind only the 195.650 school record set March
23, 2003 at the State of Illinois Championships.
Northern Illinois came close again, but failed to notch their first win of the season. Following Monday's 3-2 heartbreaker at No. 24 Texas Tech
, the Huskies headed to Surprise, Ariz., for the Coca-Cola Classic. On Thursday, the team collected 10 hits, but lost 14-7 to Winthrop
. The next day, NIU took No. 11 Arizona State to extras, but lost on a walk-off single, 4-3
. NIU rounded out the tournament with a 10-5 loss to Iona
and a 11-3 defeat from Oregon State
The Huskies went 2-2 over the weekend at the Coach B Classic in Carbondale, Ill. On Saturday, NIU defeated Wright State, 5-1,
before falling later to SIU-Edwardsville, 4-3, in eight innings. Northern would go 1-1 again on Sunday
, shutting out Western Illinois, 5-0, and losing to the host Salukis, 15-7.Men's Tennis:
The Huskies returned to their winning ways at home Saturday with two 7-0 wins against Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois
. In both matches, NIU lost just one doubles match each to earn their ninth and 10th wins in 2012. However, the winning streak came to an abrupt end Sunday when Northern was handed a 6-1 decision
at Wisconsin.Women's Tennis:
Northern Illinois took down the Milwaukee
on Sunday by a score of 4-3 for its sixth win of the season. It
was the second time this year the Huskies found themselves on the
winning end while at the Boylan Tennis Center. With the victory, NIU sits at
6-4 on the season.
NIU's upcoming week will be dominated by MAC Tournament action. The women's team heads to Cleveland Wednesday to take on Akron at 1:30 p.m., while the men open their tournament Monday night at Eastern Michigan. Additionally, men's tennis hosts Brown in Rockford Friday; gymnastics goes to Ypsilanti, Mich.; baseball is in Clarksville, Tenn., and softball plays in Columbia, Mo.
It was another chock full week of Huskie action, with nine teams in action both in DeKalb and on the road.
The Huskies returned to MAC West play and stepped out for a non-conference matchup this week, but suffered a pair of losses. Playing in the Convo Wednesday night, NIU dropped a 78-63 decision to Western Michigan
as Tony Nixon scored a season-high 12 points for Northern. The Huskies stepped out of conference play Saturday for a BracketBuster game at SIU-Edwardsville. Despite 12 points each from Abdel Nader and Nixon, the Cougars drilled a last-second shot to defeat NIU, 64-62
Northern Illinois split a pair of MAC West games at home during the week to start on the regular season home stretch. NIU evened their record to 12-12 overall and 6-6 in the MAC with a 58-44 win against Ball State
, with Claire Jakubicek leading the way with 17 points. That momentum did not last for the Huskies, though, as they dropped a 77-57 game to Eastern Michigan
. Kim Davis led the way with 26 points.Wrestling:
The Huskies closed out their 2011-12 regular season Saturday with a 23-14 loss to Buffalo
. Shawn Fayette (149), Brad Dieckhaus (184), Mike Lukowski (197) and Jared Torrence (285) each won matches on Senior Day, but Buffalo's six wins - including a pin and two major decisions - were too much to overcome.Gymnastics:
Northern Illinois came up with its second-highest score of the 2012
season but it was not enough to overcome a strong performance by
Mid-American Conference powerhouse Kent State Sunday as the Huskies fell
.Track & Field:
The Northern Illinois track & field team ended their 2011-12 indoor
regular season with an impressive showing at the Ball State
Quadrangular, as they captured three event titles and broke two school
records en route to a second-place finish
. Janay Mitchell Broke the school's 60 meters record for the third time this season with a time of 7.54, while Roneisha Frye eclipsed the 60 hurdles record with a run of 8.59.Baseball:
Northern Illinois opened their 2012 season at Tennessee, but were swept by the Volunteers in the three-game set. The Huskie bats went silent in the first game, only scoring one run in a 7-1 defeat
. They would get more run support in a Saturday doubleheader, but dropped both games to the Vols, 10-5 and 7-2
The Huskies dropped all three games in a rain-soaked weekend in North Texas to fall to 3-5 on the season. NIU lost their tournament opener
to Creighton, 5-4, in eight innings Friday morning, then were bested, 8-3, by the host Mean Green. After Saturday's action was rained out, NIU could not get timely hitting in a 5-1 loss to Creighton
The Huskies improved to 6-0 at home this year with a pair of wins against Valparaiso and IUPUI
. NIU began the day with a 6-1 win over the Crusaders, then folloowed that up with a 5-2 defeat of the Jaguars.Men's Golf:
Northern Illinois opened their 2012 spring season in Dade City, Fla., where they took third place at the MAC Match Play
tournament. After a convincing 4-2 win over Ohio in the opening round, the Huskies nearly knocked off top-seeded Ball State in the semifinals, but fell 3.5-2.5. NIU would rally in the third place match, though, with a 4.5-1.5 win against Miami (Ohio).
Another busy week awaits the Huskies with seven teams in action. Among them, only men's tennis and gymnastics are at home. the men's tennis squad looks keep their perfect home record intact Saturday against Dayton and Western Illinois, then Sunday versus Cleveland State. Meanwhile, gymnastics hosts Central Michigan Sunday in DeKalb.
Eight Huskie teams were in action during the week, including softball kicking off their 2012 season in Louisiana.
Northern Illinois wrapped up divisional crossover play with a split of their two games. The Huskies used Tyler Storm's career-best 17 points and a strong defensive effort on the boards Wednesday to knock off Miami (Ohio), 62-59
, inside the Convocation Center. On Saturday, though, Northern was unable to hang with MAC leader Akron in a 75-51 defeat
. Keith Gray paced NIU with 13 points.Women's Basketball:
The Huskies had a light week on the hardwood with only one game on the schedule. However, they grabbed a huge win on the road with a 70-58 win against Miami (Ohio)
. Courtney Shelton led NIU with 13 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.Wrestling:
Northern Illinois returned to the .500 mark Sunday with a pair of dominating wins against Tiffin and SIU-Edwardsville
. The Huskies began the day with a 42-0 shutout of the Dragons to earn their second shutout of the year. NIU would nearly repeat that performance in the last dual of the day with a 34-8 victory against the in-state rival Cougars.Gymnastics:
Northern Illinois hit all 24 of its routines en
route to its seventh-best team score ever and a 194.775-193.975 victory
over Bowling Green
Saturday at Anderson Arena.
The victory lifted NIU's record to 3-3 overall, 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while Bowling Green fell to 1-8, 0-3.
Track & Field:
It was a record-setting weekend for the Huskies, as two school records fell and a third was tied
at the Iowa State Classic. NIU's 4x400 relay of Chanel Kellyman, Jenelle McCalla, Julianne Cronin and Rebecca Cronin demolished the school mark with a time of 3:47.74 - breaking the former record by nearly two seconds. In addition, Jenner Sio surpassed the triple jump record with a 39-01.00 leap, while Kellyman tied the NIU 200 meter record with a run of 24.52.Softball:
Northern Illinois opened their season with a 3-2 performance over the weekend at Southeastern Louisiana. The Huskies won both of their rain-soaked Friday games
with an 8-4 win over Southern and a 9-8 triumph against Nicholls State. NIU split their Saturday slate
, falling 10-2 to Troy and defeating UT-Martin, 7-5. The team would fall in their tournament finale to the host Lions, 10-2
NIU went 2-1 during the weekend to improve to 4-2 on the year. On Friday, the Huskies defeated SIU-Edwardsville and IPFW
by identical 6-1 scores inside the Boylan Tennis Center. Northern hit the road Sunday to face No. 70 Drake, where they lost, 7-0
, in Des Moines, Iowa.Women's Tennis:
The Huskies continued its fantastic start
to the season Sunday by defeating Eastern Illinois, 6-1
, at the Boylan
Tennis Center. The 5-2 mark by the Huskies is the best start for the
team in nearly a decade.
NIU's busy month continues this week when men's golf and baseball both tee off on their respective seasons. Men's golf is in Dade City, Fla., for the MAC Match Play tournament, while baseball has a three-game weekend series at Tennessee. Additionally, men's basketball host Western Michigan Wednesday and women's basketball hosts Ball State Thursday and Eastern Michigan Saturday, along with wrestling taking on Buffalo Saturday in Victor E. Court and men's tennis battling Valparaiso and IUPUI Friday in Rockford.
The Northern Illinois University softball team earned the No. 3 seed in the 2011 Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. The Huskies (26-25, 13-7), who finished second in the MAC West, open the tournament against Central Michigan Wednesday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. You can follow all the action live on the MAC's Tournament Central page
. Look for a complete preview of the 2011 MAC Softball Tournament tomorrow on NIUHuskies.com.
Alexandra Wulbecker is having a solid season for the Northern Illinois University softball team. She is batting .344 with 31 hits, including three home runs and six doubles. Wulbecker is third on the team RBIs with 18 and has scored 13runs for the Mid-American Conference West Division leading Huskies (18-19, 8-3). John Leusch of the Daily Herald filed this feature story
on the sophomore in yesterday's paper.
Also included in the story, at the bottom of the page is a recap of Michelle Caporusso's performance at the Loyola Invitational last week.
This weekend in NIU Athletics is an interesting scheduling anomaly. Saturday, the men's and women's basketball teams will be facing Toledo in a doubleheader action. The women play host to the Rockets
in a key Mid-American Conference West battle. Tip off for Saturday's contest, which is also Senior Day and NIU PinkZone game, is set for 3 p.m. As fans are leaving the Convocation Center, they can turn to 1360 AM WLBK and probably catch Bill Baker's pregame show prior to the start of the men's basketball contest at Toledo
. The men's game begins at 6 p.m.
While it isn't that unusual for two teams in the same conference to be playing each other in two different sports on the same day, it is unique when the same schools from two different conferences square off in doubleheader action. That will be the case Saturday in Lubbock, Texas as the baseball team faces Texas Tech
at 12 p.m., while the softball team, which is in Lubbock for the Jeannie McHaney Memorial Classic hosted by Texas Tech, will face the No. 21 Red Raiders
at 4 p.m.
Fans can watch Saturday' women's basketball game through Huskie All-Access and both of softball's games with Texas Tech through RaiderVision All-Access.