May 13, 2010
Box Score in PDF Format
AKRON, Ohio - Freshman Adriana Sanchez' two home run performance powered the Northern Illinois University softball team to a 6-5 upset of No. 3 seed Miami in the opening game of the 2010 Mid-American Conference Tournament at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio Wednesday.
Sanchez, a member of the 2010 MAC All-Freshman Team, gave NIU (23-32) the early lead when she hit a grand slam keying a five-run first inning. The Huskie outburst began when Andrea Colosimo (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) reached on a one-out error by the shortstop. Back-to-back singles by Zoe Sinner (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) and Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) loaded the bases for the Huskie catcher who deposited the Meredith Linch offering over the left field fence.
"Adriana came through for us today. She was seeing the ball really well," NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said. "She was in a really good place at the plate and it showed in her performance."
Back-to-back two-out doubles by sophomore Carly Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) and freshman Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) capped off the opening frame for Northern Illinois.
Staked to a 5-0 lead, sophomore pitcher Morgan Bitter (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) pitched four innings of shutout softball, limiting the RedHawk offense to three hits. Sanchez provided an insurance run when she hit her second home run of the game, the third multi home run game of the season, to right center field to extend the NIU lead to 6-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth.
As it would turn out, the Huskies would need that sixth run as Miami (31-23) would not go quietly. The RedHawks scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut NIU's lead to three, 6-3, and Miami pulled to within a run, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After a lead-off single put the tying run on base, Monica Segura (Santa Ana, Calif./Segerstrom Fundamental) came into pitch in relief of Bittner in the bottom of the seventh. She recorded the final three outs to pick up the save and give the Huskies the victory. Bittner picked up the win, allowing five runs, three earned on nine hits and three walks while striking out eight.
"Monica came in and did a great job closing it out for us and really bringing out that competitive spirit, setting the tone for how we should continue through the rest of the tournament," Chouinard said.
Sanchez finished the day going 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and a career-high five RBIs. Sinner went 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Wednesday night's victory was the Huskies' third-straight victory over Miami this season and the first opening round game win in the MAC Tournament since a 10-5 victory over Ball State in 2001.
The Huskies will face No. 2 seed Ball State Thursday at 4 p.m. CST. The Cardinals swept the season series from NIU earlier this season, beating the Huskies in extra innings in both games at Mary M. Bell Field.