May 5, 2006
NIU vs. Toledo Game 1 NIU vs. Toledo Game 2
DeKALB, IL -- Coming into the final weekend of Mid-American Conference play, Northern Illinois University's softball team had to win two of their four weekend games in order to clinch a spot in the league tournament. With the sweep of the University of Toledo Rockets, the Huskies did just that, earned themselves the seventh seed on the march to Midland, MI.
To start the day, Toledo first baseman Leslie Stong led off the game with a solo homerun to give the Rockets (13-38, 4-14 MAC) an early 1-0 lead. But that wouldn't last long as the Huskies had quite a few runs in their bats this afternoon.
NIU (21-24, 10-10 MAC) put up back-to-back three-run innings. The second inning started with a solo shot by centerfielder Kelly Park (North Aurora, IL/West Aurora). A subsequent walk by catcher Elyse Jamrozy (Brookfield, IL/Riverside-Brookfield) put a runner on for freshman first baseman Randi Kreiter (Deerfield, IL/Deerfield) to blast her second career homerun over the right field fence. In the bottom of the third, the Huskies kept the scoring alive by putting another trio of runs on the board. Shortstop Krista McPherson (Beecher, IL/Beecher) led off the frame with a double and later scored when leftfielder Kelly Drozd (Lockport, IL/Lockport) reached on a Toledo error to give NIU the 4-1 lead. After two Huskie outs, Jamrozy ripped a two-run blast to make it 5-1.
Two innings later, the Huskies added another run when Park made her way to third base on a walk, a passed ball, a Jamrozy single. The junior then scored when a fielder's choice to home plate turned into an errant throw, allowing NIU to add yet another run. Finally in the Huskie half of the sixth, second baseman Jenna Roberts (Verona, WI/Verona) led off the inning with a walk and then trucked home on a McPherson triple to right center.
NIU also took game two, this time by a 9-1 tally. The Huskie hitting continued as they scored three quick runs in the bottom half of the first. Roberts singled to rightfield, advanced to second on a passed ball then scored on a bunt single by McPherson, who was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double. The next batter, Drozd, was hit by a pitch just before third baseman Michelle Nendza
(Palos Park, IL/Lemont Mt. Assisi) ripped a two-run shot to left-center and ended the first inning of scoring, 3-0.
In the second, The Huskies added two more when second baseman Bailey Ouellette (Beaverton, OR/Beaverton) led off the inning with a single and scored on Kreiter's second round-tripper of the day. With a Toledo run in the top of the third, the Huskies came into their half of the frame with a 5-1 lead and promptly extended their lead seven. With one out, Park reached on a Toledo error and then scored on a double by Jamrozy. Pinch running for Jamrozy, Katie Colby (Waukesha, WI/Waukesha) then scored on Ouellette's second hit of the game, this time a double for the seven run lead. One inning later, McPherson and Drozd led off with back-to-back infield singles. The duo were then advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by Nendza. Park was then hit by a pitch to load the bases just before Jamrozy earned her fourth RBI of the day by patiently waiting for four balls to pass by walking with the bases loaded.
In the bottom of the fifth, NIU put the nail in the coffin when designated player Jenna Mitchell (Matteson, IL/Rich South) reached on a Rocket error advanced to second on a walk by Roberts. Both Mitchell and Roberts took one more base on a wild pitch before McPherson laid down a squeeze and Mitchell was called safe as the ball rolled out of the glove of Toledo catcher Alison Hess.
Pitcher Lindsey LaChiana earned her thirteenth and fourteenth victories of the season by throwing 14 innings, giving up two runs (both solo homeruns) on only eight hits and striking out 13. The senior's nine-strikeout performance in game one was also her season-high. Jamrozy was 3-for-6 with four RBI while McPherson was 4-for-7 with three RBI.
"We had two good wins today," said head coach Donna Martin. "Lindsey pitched well and our defense made the plays when they needed to be made. Offensively, we really spread around the wealth today.
"I'm proud of our team came into today ready to play and ready to accomplish a goal (qualifying for the MAC tournament). We set that goal early in the season and it's always great when you can push yourself and accomplish a goal like that."
The Huskies have two games remaining in the regular season, both against Bowling Green State University. The Falcons are (33-21, 14-6 MAC) after splitting a doubleheader with Western Michigan University today. Saturday's (May 6) night game is scheduled for 6 p.m. before the Huskies celebrate Senior Day on Sunday (May 7) at 1 p.m.