March 31, 2006
MOUNT PLEASANT, MI - Northern Illinois University opened the Mid-American Conference portion of the season, and unfortunately for the Huskies, it wasn't a great start. The Huskies faced preseason West Division favorite Central Michigan University in a doubleheader in Mount Pleasant, MI, and NIU fell twice on the day, 3-1 in the first game and 8-0 in the nightcap.
In the first game of the twinbill, the Huskies had a good effort but just couldn't match the CMU bats. In the top of the second, after retiring the first batter, CMU catcher Brittany Decker dropped a bloop hit into shallow right field. An errant throw in attempt to catch Decker at third allowed the senior to score on the play. An inning later, centerfielder Suzie Giroux led off the third with a triple to the left-center gap. But the Huskies were able to hold the CMU threat. In an attempted suicide squeeze, batter Decker missed the bunt and Giroux was left hung out to dry.
In a Huskie threat in the top of the fifth, Ellen Stoddard (Rolling Meadows, IL/Palatine Fremd) doubled to begin the inning but never made back to home. In the bottom of the inning, the Chips put up four hits to score two runs as Karen Hohs, the nine batter in the lineup, laid down a bunt to reach first base when third baseman Amy Hudson doubled to right field to put runners on second and third for the Chips. Giroux put up her second hit of the game, a double to left centerfield to score Hohs and Hudson. The CMU hitting continued as rightfielder Jacque Benedict rifled a single to right centerfield to put runners on second and third. The rest of the Chippewa batters were retired and left with only two runs in the inning.
In a come back effort, the Huskies put a run on the board in the sixth. Shortstop Krista McPherson (Beecher, IL/Beecher) reached on an error just before Kelly Park (North Aurora, IL/West Aurora) singled to leftfield. Catcher Elyse Jamrozy (Brookfield, IL/Riverside-Brookfield) then walked to load the bases for third baseman Michelle Nendza (Palos Park, IL/Lemont Mt. Assisi), who grounded out to third base, but earned an RBI on the play by scoring McPherson. The Huskies also had a promising beginning to the seventh as Stoddard led off with another double, but NIU came in short in the long run.
(Rochelle, IL/Rochelle) was in the circle for the Huskies. The sophomore threw six innings and gave three runs on six hits and struck out three batters. Hagemann now stands 5-7 on the season.
In the second game of the day, Central Michigan came out early with a three-run first inning. The frame began as Giroux dumped a single over shortstop McPherson's head and then promptly stole second. Benedict then doubled off the leftfield fence, scoring Giroux. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the Chippewas were don't quite as catcher Decker cracked her second homerun of the year and gave the Chippewas the quick 3-0 lead. An inning later, the Chips were at it again in when catcher Lindsey Calme doubled to leftfield only to score two outs later when leftfielder Hohs tripled to left centerfield scoring pinch runner Katie Horvath to give CMU the 4-0 edge.
In the bottom of the fourth, a 20-minute rain delay didn't slow down CMU as they scored four runs in the inning. Calme started the inning yet again with a double down the leftfield line only to score on yet another single by Hohs. After Hohs' at bat, Hudson walked and the duo then successfully attempted the double steal to put Chips on second and third. A ground ball off the glove of pitcher Paige Granath was fielded by Bailey Ouellette, but a run scored on the play to make the score 6-0. Four consecutive hits later, Central Michigan put two more runs on the board and giving themselves the 8-0 lead.
The Huskies didn't go down without a small threat, however. Park doubled to left center but was left standing at second base to end the mercy rule game in the fifth inning.
Senior Lindsey LaChiana (Oak Lawn, IL/Richards) suffered the loss for the Huskies as she threw three and a third innings giving up seven runs on seven hits. The appearance was LaChiana's first since March 5. In a relief effort, Paige Granath (Machesney Park, IL/Harlem) pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up one run on three hits.
Three of NIU's hitters had multi-hit days. Randi Kreiter (Deerfield, IL/Deerfield), Park and Stoddard were all two-for-five on the day and accounted for all six Huskie hits on the day. Nendza was the only Northern Illinois hitter to record an RBI.
"Today we needed to play like I know we can," said head coach Donna Martin. "The road to the being MAC Champions is a long one, and we'll have more opportunities. We lost today, but tomorrow is a new day where we can start fresh and more prepared."
The Huskies return to action in Ypsilanti, MI to face Eastern Michigan University on Saturday (April 1) at 1 p.m. (CST). EMU currently stands 13-16 on the season and 1-1 in the MAC after splitting a doubleheader with Western Michigan University earlier today.