Huskies Keep MAC Title Hopes Alive

GO HUSKIES Nicole Gremillion led the Huskies offense in their 3-2 win over Ball State.
Nicole Gremillion led the Huskies offense in their 3-2 win over Ball State.

May 9, 2014

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MAC Softball Tournament Central

AKRON, Ohio. - The Northern Illinois University softball team knocked off No. 1 seeded Ball State, 3-1 in its third game of the 2014 Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament at Firestone Stadium Friday.

"That game sums up our season in how close our games have been," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "We've been letting them go all year and I just kept telling them to stick with it. It's going to pay off.

"When their fans started getting going and they [Ball Stated] started getting going and we made an error, we were able to stay with it and get off the field. That was something we were missing early on. I'm just glad it showed up today."

Timely hitting and another solid outing by pitcher Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) helped the Huskies (25-30) oust top seeded Ball State (33-19) from the tournament for the second straight year.

After the two teams sat through an hour and 45 minute rain delay following the first batter of the game, NIU scored first with a run in the second.

Rebecca Rupard (Normal, Ill./Normal West) opened the game's scoring when she doubled to right field to score Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa), who reached on a one out walk, in the top of the second. However, Rupard was thrown out at third trying to stretch the double into a triple.

NIU tacked on another run in the top of the third when Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) tripled to left center field to score Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City), who led off the inning with a bunt single.

Leading 2-0 in the top of the fifth, the Huskies added an insurance run. Again, it was Gremillion delivering, this time with a RBI double down the right field line to score Jordyn Bowen (Libertyville, Ill.Grayslake) and give NIU a 3-0 cushion.

Ball State responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth on a solo home run by Sammi Cowger over the center field fence. The Cardinals then pulled to within a run in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on first and second and one out, Audrey Bickell grounded out to first base, and Kayti Grable's (Santana, Calif./Santee) throw to second to get Amanda Arnett couldn't be handled and Loren Chillar scored from second. However, Sturm got out of the inning without further damage and the threat was ended.

Gremillion led the way for the Huskie offense, going 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs. Phelan and Bowen each went 1-for-3 with a run scored.

"Nicole is pretty dialed in," Sutcliffe said. "Our seniors really are. They're excited for this. They set their goal to get to the championship game early on this year. They've been working for it and trying to do everything they can."

The No. 7 seed Huskies face No. 6 seed Central Michigan in their third game of the tournament Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT.




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