SPRINTING IN SENEGAL
Huskie trackster Kaylee Walters is spending her summer in Saint Louis, Senegal volunteering with underprivileged children and helping a local track & field program. While there, she's blogging for NIUHuskies.com with "Sprinting in Senegal." Here's a snippet from her first blog:
"Every day at 7:30 I walk 30 minutes to my work at a school for underprivileged children (age 3-7) whose parents can't afford to send them to a proper school. I paint with the children and keep them entertained by singing and teaching them French. At one, I return home through the sandy and packed streets to eat the most important meal of the day here--lunch. This meal is almost always grilled whole fish (scales, head, and bones) and rice or cous cous with an oily onion sauce. It is then followed with either bissap, which is a juice made from the root of the hibiscus, or a ginger drink, made from ginger root."
There's also this photo gallery, which will be updated whenever she sends photos.
TAKING A BIG STEP FORWARD
The Northern Illinois University softball program took a big step forward in head coach Lindsay Chouinard's second season. The Huskies saw a seven-win improvement from 2008, going 20-37, while posting a 12-10 record in conference play, NIU's first winning season in MAC play since 2003.
Northern Illinois' performance during its MAC campaign earned the Huskies the No. 5 seed in the 2009 MAC Softball Tournament. NIU turned in a solid performance, going 2-2 in the tourney, including a come-from-behind victory over second seeded Kent State. NIU was one of the final four teams in the Tourney, but saw its run end after falling to Miami, 3-0.
Senior Bailey Ouellette capped off her Huskie career with a stellar senior season. The Huskie first baseman earned First-Team All-MAC honors after setting career highs in triples with two and RBIs with 23, while tying career highs for hits with 35 and home runs with five. Senior Emily Gooding was also named First-Team All-MAC after upping her batting average from .181 last year to .256 this season. Both Gooding and Ouellette were also recognized for their hard work in the classroom as both were named to the 2009 Academic All-MAC Softball Team.
While the Huskies had a wealth of veteran leadership in 2009, they also had plenty of young talent emerge. Freshman pitcher Morgan Bittner was named Second-Team All-MAC and was also selected to the MAC All-Freshman Team, while Andrea Colosimo impressed conference coaches with her performance at the conference tournament. The sophomore from Orland Park, Ill. was named to the MAC's All-Tournament Team.
Bittner, a three-time MAC West Pitcher of the Week, appeared in 39 games, starting 36, and posted a 14-20 record with a 4.20 ERA. Her 166 strikeouts is the most by a Huskie since Courtney Witvliet punched out 164 batters in 1999 and is fourth on NIU's all-time list for strikeouts in a single season. She was the first Huskie freshman named to the conference's All-Freshman Team since Kate Greenough in 2007.
Colosimo batted .500 in four games at the 2009 MAC Softball Tournament. She went 5-for-10 from the plate with a double and three runs batted in and a run scored. She had an on-base-percentage of .643, with her best performance of the tournament coming in NIU's 9-4 victory over Bowling Green State where she went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.
Colosimo provided the highlight from NIU's biggest win of the season. Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth to No. 18 Houston, she belted a grad slam over the left field fence to give NIU a 5-3 victory over the Cougars.
Where will the Huskies' win over No. 2 SMU rank on the list?
Coming soon to Huskie Happenings, we're going to count down the greatest moments of the 2008-09 season, and we need YOUR HELP! Whether it's a standout touchdown grab, amazing upset victory, or first-class finish at the basket, we need your nominations for the best moment of this last season. Send your best of 2008-09 to firstname.lastname@example.org. One lucky nominator will win a Huskie Prize Pack, so get your top moments in today!