Feb. 23, 2014
Albany 3-NIU 1
NIU 2-UD 1
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Northern Illinois University softball team split its final two games of the 2014 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Sunday.
NIU (5-4) suffered a 3-1 setback to Albany in the first game of the day before knocking off Delaware, 2-1 in the final game of the tournament. The Huskies' contest with Albany was a continuation from yesterday's game which was postponed due to rain. The Huskies went 3-1 on the weekend, defeating Fairfield, IPFW and Delaware.
"We definitely cleaned up our defense," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "I think we still need to make some corrections offensively, making quicker adjustments in the game. Our pitchers did a great job keeping us in games.
"We had some key components off our bench that were huge contributors that helped us go 3-1 on the weekend."
A two-run fifth inning proved to be the difference in the Huskies' victory over Delaware. The Blue Hens capitalized on a pair of NIU errors to open the scoring with a run in the top of the first. Junior pitcher Jessica Sturm (Goddard, Ill./Goddard) wasn't rattled. She settled in and shutout Delaware the rest of the way, giving the Huskie offense time get on track.
In the top of the fifth inning, NIU opened the inning with three straight hits to score a pair of runs and take a 2-1 lead. Jordyn Bowen (Libertyville, Ill./Grayslake) began the inning with a single to left and scored on Kali Kossakowski's (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) triple to right centerfield. Kossakowski then scored on Rebecca Rupard's (Normal, Ill./Normal West) squeeze play.
Sturm improved to 4-2 on the season allowing one run, unearned while scattering six hits. Bowen led the way for the NIU offense, going 2-for-2 on the day with a walk and run scored.
A three-run first inning by the Great Danes proved too much to overcome for NIU as the Huskies resumed their game with Albany Sunday morning. Albany opened the game with a walk and back-to-back singles to open the game. After a fly out gave the Huskies one out in the inning, Marlin Solano hit a grounder to shortstop. But the throw home was errant and two runs scored. A sacrifice fly gave Albany its third run of the inning.
NIU got a run back in the bottom of the third on a RBI sacrifice fly by Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) to score Kossakowski. The rains came in the top of the fourth and play was suspended until 8:30 am CT. Neither team was able to score once play resumed and Saturday's score ended up being the final.
NIU returns to the diamond Mar. 1 when the Huskies travel to Evansville, Ind. to compete in the Evansville Invitational. NIU opens play against Northern Kentucky with first pitch set for 10:30 a.m., before facing host Evansville at 12:30 p.m. All times are Central.