Feb. 20, 2014
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team returns to the Sunshine State for its second tournament of the season as the Huskies travel to Orlando, Fla. for the 2014 Citrus Classic produced by Diamond 9 Friday.
The Huskies (2-3) open the weekend Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex against Fairfield (0-0) at 12:15 p.m., before taking on IPFW (7-2) at 2:30 p.m. The Huskies will play another doubleheader Saturday facing Albany (0-0) at 12:15 p.m., which can be seen on ESPN3, and North Carolina State (1-5) at 4:45 p.m. The Huskies will close out tournament play on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. in a match up with Lehigh (0-0). All times listed are Central Time.
NIU looks to build on the positives it saw at the FAU "Kickoff" Classic two weeks. The Huskies scored 15 runs on 22 hits as they went 2-3 on the weekend. NIU did have some rust in the field in its first action of the season and the Huskies spent much of the last two weeks in practice polishing up their defense.
"We went back to the drawing board with our infield to clean up some of our throwing errors," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "Hopefully, that will show through once we get outside. The errors we made were minor mechanical things. We also got back into the cages, saw some holes in our swings that we needed to correct and went to work with it."
Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) led the Huskies at the plate in their season-opening tournament, batting .400 on six hits with three runs scored and two RBI. Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) also had a strong weekend at the plate for NIU. She hit .308 for the weekend and drove in two RBI in NIU's win over St. John's.
In the Huskies' first win of the year, sophomore Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) made an immediate impact, driving in all three of NIU's runs on a first inning three-run homer.
"We definitely have some power potential this year in the top half of our line up," Sutcliffe said. "When you mix in the speed, which is sprinkled throughout our line up, it leaves us to have a very dynamic offense. I don't know if we completely saw its potential two weeks ago."
Pitcher Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) had a strong start to the season in Boca Raton, going 2-1 with a 1.07 ERA over 19.2 innings. In her first start of the year against host Florida Atlantic, Sturm went the distance to lead the Huskies to their first victory of the season, giving up only four hits and two runs. She followed that up with a victory in her second start against St. John's, striking out four and allowing only two earned runs over six-and-a-third innings.
There will be no live scoring for this event, but box scores will be posted on NIUHuskies.com following play of each day's games. Saturday's game against Albany can be seen on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
ESPN3 is available through Internet providers while WatchESPN requires a video subscription from an affiliated provider. This year, users accessing WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN mobile application via an on-campus (.edu) or on-base (.mil) network receive complimentary access to ESPN3 games.
- NIU -