Feb. 28, 2014
DEKALB, Ill. –The Northern Illinois University softball team returns to action this weekend when the Huskies travel to Evansville, Ind. for the Evansville Invitational Saturday.
The Huskies (5-4) will play a doubleheader on Saturday facing off against Northern Kentucky (1-8) at 11:30 a.m. before finishing up against Evansville (5-4) at 1:30 p.m. Both times are Central. There will be live stats available for both of NIU’s games Saturday through the Evansville Tournament Central page at gopurpleaces.com.
After playing its first two tournaments of the season in Florida, NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe is looking forward to getting the team acclimated to Midwest temperatures to prepare the Huskies for the rest of their season.
“I think it’s going to be good for our kids to get out in the colder weather to get us ready for the MAC,” Sutcliffe said. “Playing in the 80s is unrealistic for the majority of our season.”
The Huskie offense saw improvement at the Citrus Classic last weekend, but Sutcliffe feels that is only the tip of the iceberg for NIU.
“Our offense needs to get going a little bit,” she said. “Hopefully we can do that this weekend. The cold weather isn’t necessarily the best time to do that, but the more we keep playing the more confidence they’re going to get.”
Leadoff hitter Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) leads the team in batting average (.379), slugging percentage (.448), hits (11) and runs scored (4) after the two tournaments. Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) has provided some pop in the middle of the lineup slugging .364 and driving in five runs so far this season.
(Wichita, Kan./Goddard) has been the workhorse of the Huskie pitching staff, starting five of their nine games and coming in for relief in another. Sturm, who was named MAC West Pitcher of the Week for her performance at the Citrus Classic, pitched a complete game in all three of her starts last weekend without giving up an earned run posting a 2-1 record.
“Our pitching has done a really good job of keeping us in games, they’re doing what we’re asking them to do,” Sutcliffe said. “Our defense made some major improvements, I think having that week off and being able to stress a couple of things that we were struggling with has helped.”