Feb. 29, 2008
NIU-Mercer Box Score
NIU-FGCU Box Score
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois softball team opened up the 2008 season with a pair of victories, giving first-year head coach Lindsay Chouinard her first career win in her first attempt with a 4-2 decision over Mercer on Friday afternoon. In the second game versus Florida Gulf Coast Tournament host FGCU, the Huskies topped the night with a 3-2 win in eight innings.
"Of course you're happy to get your first win, but I think it's about this team getting their first win," said Chouinard. "We have worked so hard over the past few months and it was just about finding a way to win. Starting 2-0 is very good for this team and they showed some grit. I'm very proud of them."
Sophomore Kate Greenough (Portland, Ore./David Douglas) and senior Michelle Nendza (Palos Park, Ill./Lemont Mount Assisi) led the Huskies in the first game against Mercer. Greenough pitched seven solid innings, giving up one earned run on seven hits while striking out four batters. Offensively, Nendza was perfect at the plate with three hits, including a two-run home run in her first at-bat of the year in the second inning to give NIU a 2-1 lead. After Mercer tied the game by adding a run in the third inning, Nendza collected the game winning hit in the sixth inning, driving in two runs on a fielder's choice double-play that ended the inning.
"The key was the pitching and timely hitting," Chouinard said. "The games were not high scoring games, they were coming down to one or two runs. So, it's about the pitchers finding a way to keep the opponents zero or one run. It's an expectation that I have placed on them from the beginning. It always comes down to the pitchers finding a way to not let the hitters win."
In the second game versus Florida Gulf Coast, senior Taryn Hagemann (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle) started the game on the mound for NIU, going four innings and giving up one earned run on four hits, leaving the game down 1-0. Freshman Joreigh Landers (Vernonia, Ore/Vernonia) entered the game in relief to pick up the win after pitching four innings, giving up only one earned run on one hit. After each team exchanged runs in the sixth inning, Greenough drove in the tying run on a bases-loaded fielder's choice ground-out. In the eighth inning, junior Allie Parker (Evergreen Park, Ill./Marist) singled in the winning run on a hit up the middle, scoring Nendza from third base.
"We had a lot of stolen bases today," said Chouinard. "It was about the fast kids getting on and around the bases. We had three stolen bases in the second game and had a couple in the first game. From an offensive point, it's about finding a way touch the ball and make something happen. They finally found a way towards the end of the game and we came out on top."
NIU will be back in action tomorrow with another pair of games starting with an 11 a.m. CST match-up against Saint Francis (Pa.) and a 3 p.m. contest with Mount Saint Mary's.