April 19, 2006
Iowa City, IA - Earlier in the season, Northern Illinois University's softball team met up with the University of Iowa, who was ranked No. 24 at the time. Losing 2-0 in the initial meeting, the Huskies were ready for the opportunity from some payback. Going into the seventh inning, the Huskies had a 4-3 edge, but it was the Hawkeyes who squeaked out the 5-4 come-from-behind victory.
To start the game, the Huskies (15-19, 3-7 MAC) didn't take long to get the scoring underway. With one out in the first, centerfielder Kelly Park (North Aurora, IL/West Aurora) drew a walk and advanced to second when leftfielder Kelly Drozd (Lockport, IL/Lockport) reached on a Hawkeye error. Third baseman Michelle Nendza (Palos Park, IL/Lemont Mt. Assisi) then knocked in the first run of the game with a single to leftfield, scoring Park and giving the NIU the quick one-run lead.
The Hawkeyes, however, had three answers for hasty Huskie start. In each of the next three innings, Iowa notched a single run, making a 3-1 tally after four.
In the top of the fifth, NIU came roaring back with a three-run inning. Designated player Elyse Jamrozy (Brookfield, IL/Riverside-Brookfield) led off the inning with her fourth home run of the season. A walk by right fielder Jenna Mitchell (Matteson, IL/Matteson) and a bunt single by shortstop Krista McPherson (Beecher, IL/Beecher) put runners on first and second for NIU. After an infield fly by Park, a Hawkeye throwing error on a fielder's choice by Drozd allowed both McPherson and Mitchell to score and the Huskies to take the 4-3 lead.
NIU maintained the one-run lead until the bottom of the seventh when shortstop Stacy May doubled to right center. An infield single by centerfielder Mindy Heidgerken pushed pinch runner Jenna Spratt to third base. Heidgerken then stole second and a single to right field by first baseman Emily Nichols scored Spratt and Heidgerken and gave the Hawkeyes the 5-4 heartbreaking win.
"We played to win," said head coach Donna Martin
. "It was a very close game, and it was ours to win. We just couldn't quite get it done. Iowa played hard and earned the win."
Taryn Hagemann (Rochelle, IL/Rochelle) suffered the loss for the Huskies. In relief of starter Lindsey LaChiana (Oak Lawn, IL/Richards), Hagemann gave up two runs on five hits in two and one-third innings of work. Through the first four innings, Iowa recorded three runs on five hits against LaChiana.
The Huskies return to action on Friday afternoon in a doubleheader against Mid-American Conference opponent Kent State University at 1 p.m. at Mary M. Bell Field.