Feb. 21, 2014
Fairfield 3-NIU 7
IPFW 0-NIU 4
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Northern Illinois University softball team swept its opening two games of the 2014 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Friday.
NIU (4-3) opened the tournament with a 7-3 win over Fairfield before shutting out IPFW, 4-0, in the nightcap. The Huskies pounded out 11 hits and capitalized on four Stag errors in their first game of the day.
"We were putting the ball in play when we needed to," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "The biggest difference between this weekend and our opening weekend is our defense made the plays with the pressure on. They made some really key lead-out plays and got us out of innings."
With the score tied 2-2 heading into the bottom of the third, NIU took control of the game with a run in the third and a pair in the fourth. With runners at second and third with two outs, pinch runner Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) gave the Huskies the lead when she took home on a passed ball.
NIU tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) delivered the big blow with a one-out two-run single to left field to give the Huskies a 5-2 lead. Fairfield responded with a run in the top of the fifth to pull within two runs. NIU got that run back in the bottom of the inning and added another in the bottom of the sixth.
Allyson Hecht (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) picked up the win and Skylar Weinstein (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) recorded her first career save. Hecht went four innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Weinstein allowed one run on two hits in three innings of relief.
"Ally did a good job. It took her a little while to settle in," Sutcliffe said. "Once she did, she did really well. Skylar did a good job coming in and shutting them down."
The big inning proved to be the difference in the Huskies' second win of the day.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, and runners at first and second, Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) doubled down the left field line to score Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) from second. Jordyn Bowen (Libertyville, Ill.) doubled down the right field line to score Kayti Grable and Sturm. Bowen then scored on a pinch hit single Rebecca Rupard (Normal, Ill./Normal West).
NIU returns to action Saturday for another doubleheader. The Huskies take on Albany at 12:15 p.m. and N.C. State at 4:45 p.m. Both times are Central. NIU's game against Albany can be seen on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
ESPN3 is available through Internet providers while WatchESPN requires a video subscription from an affiliated provider. This year, users accessing WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN mobile application via an on-campus (.edu) or on-base (.mil) network receive complimentary access to ESPN3 games.