March 9, 2012
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team travels to Columbia, Mo. to compete in the DeMarini Invitational hosted by the University of Missouri March 10-11.
The Huskies (5-7) will play Alcorn State (6-12) and Boise State (13-7) on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. respectively. NIU closes out play Sunday with another contest against the Broncos at 10 a.m. and the host No. 12 Missouri Tigers (10-3) at 12 p.m. Fans can follow all the action of NIU's four games this weekend live via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.
NIU looks to continue its hot hitting during this road trip. As a team, the Huskies are hitting .298 with Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln) and Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) leading the way, batting .488 and .463 respectively. Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) and Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) are batting above .300 with Parrish hitting at a .324 clip, while Phelan is at .300.
"It's definitely the way of our sport," NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said of the Huskies' numbers on offense. "You see a lot more high-scoring games now. The girls understand that they need to score to win.
"In order to be in games they need to score frequently, in multiple innings and really keep the pressure on opponents. If we can continue to do that and have pitching and defense, we should be very successful."
While this weekend's games are a continuation of 27-straight road games for NIU, it marks the beginning of a stretch of 13 games in nine days for the Huskies. Following the weekend in Columbia, Northern Illinois travels to Florida for its Spring Break trip. NIU will visit Fort Myers and Orlando before heading to Clearwater for the USF Invite hosted by South Florida.
Northern Illinois will face Canisius and Florida Gulf Coast March 13 in Fort Myers before traveling to Orlando March 14 to take on Iona and Central Florida. The Huskies wrap up their trip to the Sunshine State in Clearwater for the USF Invite hosted by South Florida March 16-18. The Huskies will play Towson and Bryant March 16, North Florida and South Florida March 17 and Boston University March 18.
Chouinard feels this trip will be a good experience for the Huskies, on and off the field.
"This trip is going to be really important not from a standpoint of being successful on the field, but from the standpoint of the team learning to come together," Chouinard said. "This is what Spring Break is about, especially in our sport. They've got to find a way to mesh and gel before MAC play starts. What better way to do that than to be around each other non-stop for 10 days."