March 2, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. - After traveling to Texas and Florida for the first two tournaments of the season, the Northern Illinois University softball team stays close to home when it travels to Carbondale, Ill. to compete in the Coach B. Classic hosted by Southern Illinois Sunday.
Originally set to be played Saturday-Sunday, the tournament was pushed back a day due to impending inclement weather in the Carbondale area and will be played Sunday and Monday. The Huskies (5-5) will open the weekend against Butler Mar. 3 at 11 a.m. and will face Saint Louis later that day at 3 p.m. NIU will take on the host Salukis Monday afternoon at 12 p.m. All times Central.
Northern Illinois enters play Sunday looking to build on its 7-3 victory over Florida Atlantic in the FAU "Strike-Out Cancer" Tournament. The Huskies went 2-3 over the weekend and saw some strong performances from a couple individuals.
"We're definitely doing really well in the circle," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "Our pitchers are keeping us in ballgames and giving us a chance to win. We have to improve offensively. We can't continue to hit in the low 200s and expect to win ballgames."
Pitcher Jessica Sturm is off to a great start in 2013. She was named co-Mid-American Conference West Division Pitcher of the Week the league for her performance in Boca Raton, Fla.
Sturm improved to 3-2 on the season after posting a 2-1 record in her four appearances at the FAU "Strike-Out Cancer" Tournament. She went the distance in NIU's 4-2 eight-inning victory over North Florida, scattering nine hits and two walks by the Ospreys. She allowed three runs, one earned, on six hits and two base on balls in the Huskies' 7-3 victory over Florida Atlantic. She struck out a career-high six batters in NIU's 3-0 setback to Towson.
It was Sturm's second-straight MAC West Pitcher of the Week award. She also won the award Feb. 12, 2013 after her performance at the Getterman Classic Feb. 8-10.
"She's doing a really good job of moving the ball in and out and keep batters off balance," Sutcliffe said of Sturm's pitching this year. "She's not very predictable, so she keeps hitters guessing and keeping the ball down in the zone."
Nicole Gremillion led the way for the NIU softball team at the plate last weekend going 9-for-17 batting .529 in five starts. The junior outfielder provided the power for the Huskie offense slugging .706 with a triple, double, four runs scored and three runs batted in. Gremillion, who is hitting .364 on the season, was 3-for-4 with an RBI and scored two runs in the Huskies' 4-2 win over North Florida. Gremillion's best performance of the weekend came in NIU's 13-7 loss to Providence. She hit a triple and went 3-for-4, and drove in two runs.
Fans can follow all the action of this weekend's games live, via Gametracker, at NIUHuskies.com.