Huskies Hold on For Win Over Central Michigan

GO HUSKIES Jessica Sturm had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning agnaist CMU.
GO HUSKIES
Jessica Sturm had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning agnaist CMU.
GO HUSKIES

May 9, 2014

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MAC Softball Tournament Central

AKRON, Ohio - The Northern Illinois University softball team took advantage of some shoddy defense to defeat No. 6 seeded Central Michigan, 2-1, to advance to the semifinals of the 2014 Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament at Firestone Stadium Friday.

The Huskies (26-30) jumped on top early with a pair of runs in the first inning, all without the benefit of a hit. Pitcher Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) was dominant in the circle as NIU picked up its second win over Central Michigan (34-22) in eight MAC Softball Tournament meetings.

Sturm was sharp in her second outing of the day. She had a perfect game through three innings and a no-hitter through five innings. Both pitchers had a no-hitter going through the first four innings. Phelan broke up Knapp's no-hitter with an infield single in the top of the fifth. Sturm allowed one run on four hits in the victory.

The start of the game was delayed an hour and a half as Buffalo and Ohio were finishing up their game, a 13-inning affair. NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe felt that may have helped Sturm.

"I actually think the game before us helped her to give her a little more relaxation," Sutcliffe said. "She was able to warm up a little bit, get a little tightness out, and then re-warm up. It might have been a blessing in disguise. She's been our workhorse all season."

Leadoff hitter Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) reached the Chippewas third baseman couldn't handle her hot shot. Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) dropped down a bunt and reached when CMU's third baseman committed her second error of the game when she threw the ball over the head of the first baseman. Phelan advanced to third and Gremillion went to second.

Phelan then scored on a wild pitch by Central Michigan pitcher Rachel Knapp. A perfect sacrifice bunt by Kayti Grable (Santana, Calif./Santee) scored Gremillion from third who moved up from second on the wild pitch.

"Scoring those two runs in the first inning and be able to sit on those two runs is a big thing," she said. "You have to play some good defense to do that. Hats off to our defense. Shelby made a game-saving catch."

Katelyn Rentschler broke up Sturm's no-hitter with a leadoff home run over the left center field fence to cut the NIU lead in half, 2-1. However, with runners at the corners with two outs, Sturm got Trista Cox to pop out on an amazing over-the-shoulder catch by Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa).

The No. 7 seed Huskies face No. 2 seed Buffalo in the semifinals of the 2014 MAC Softball tournament Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. CT.

-NIU-