April 14, 2013
NIU 8-EMU 7
DEKALB, Ill. - A walk-off home run by Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) gave the Northern Illinois University softball team an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Eastern Michigan at Mary M. Bell Field Sunday afternoon.
"This win gives us momentum in conference play and gets us back into it," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "We knew going into the weekend we had to at least go .500. We fought back in every inning except one. Knowing we can score in every inning is the difference for this team."
With the score tied, 7-7, with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Miller launched a Lauren Wells' offering over the left field fence to give NIU (13-25, 3-7) its second-straight win and the series sweep over Eastern Michigan (10-25-1, 1-9).
Northern Illinois opened a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a suicide squeeze play by Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) scoring Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) from third. However, EMU answered with a run in the second and opened a 7-1 advantage with a six-run third.
"After we had that bad inning, I told them if we're going to play that type of defense, we better have a good enough offense to make up for it and we did," Sutcliffe said. "That really has been our theme, fight to the end, and we continue to do it."
NIU slowly chipped away at the Eagle lead with a run in the bottom of the third and another in the fourth. With two on and two out Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) singled to drive in a pair and make the score 7-5.
The Huskies tied the game in the bottom of the seventh when Barnett drove in her third run of the game when she reached on a fielder's choice. Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) drove in the winning run coaxing a bases loaded walk.
Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard), who came in to pitch for Emily Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest), picked up the win to improve to 8-10 on the season. She shut down the Eagles, allowing only three hits while striking out two in four-and-a-third innings.
The Huskies return to action Tuesday when NIU travels to Northwestern to face the Wildcats. First pitch is set for at 4 p.m. and fans can follow all the action live, via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.