March 22, 2014
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team travels to Ames, Iowa for a doubleheader with the Cyclones of Iowa State Sunday.
First pitch for Game One is set for 12 p.m. CT with the second game to follow. Fans can follow all the action via live stats on cyclones.com.
"It was a chance for us to continue to keep playing," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe on Sunday's doubleheader with Iowa State. "Usually this is an off weekend, but looking at how young we'd be we wanted it on the schedule. With it being only one day, we still get a break, but keep the rhythm of playing.
"Iowa State is off to a great year. Being able to get off the field defensively is going to be key."
The Huskies (9-11) head into this weekend's action following a 2-2 showing at the Jayhawk Invitational, the final spring tournament NIU will compete in for 2014. Sutcliffe was pleased with the way her team has performed in its four tournaments this spring.
"Our veterans have and newcomers have completely meshed defensively," she said. "They've learned how to trust each other. They've learned how to think the game better. They've learned what kind of communication each other wants and with that comfort, they've begun to relax at the plate."
NIU boasts the reigning MAC West Player of the Week in Kayti Grable (Santee, Calif./Santana). Grable had an impressive week at the plate as the Huskie freshman first baseman went 10-for-18 in 19 plate appearances. Her week's .556 batting average was well above her season average of .350. Grable tallied four multi-hit games and belted two home runs, including her first career round-tripper.
Iowa State (16-10) enters Sunday's games losers of five of its last six games. Brittany Gomez leads the way for the Cyclone offense with a .435 batting average, while Lexi Slater and Aly Cappaert provide the pop in the lineup. Both have 20 RBIs on the year, while Cappaert leads the team with seven home runs. Katie Johnson is the ace of the Iowa State pitching staff with a 15-9 record and a 3.03 ERA.