March 26, 2009
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team opens its 2009 Mid-American Conference schedule with a doubleheader against Akron Friday afternoon and a weekend set with Ohio Saturday and Sunday at Mary M. Bell Field.
"This is what you play for," NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said of the start of MAC play. "These are the games that are most important to your season. This is what you work so hard for and it's what you set out to win. Starting at home is good for us.
"There's a lot of parity in our conference. It's going to be a grind. At the end of the day, it's going to be who wants it more and who's going to come out attacking."
The Huskies (5-17, 0-0) enter the weekend after earning a split against Valparaiso, picking up their first home win of the season, posting a 5-3 victory in game one. Kayla Kramer (West Chicago, Ill./West Chicago) delivered the big shot of the night, blasting a two-run shot over the left field fence. Freshman Morgan Bittner (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) pitched well in the first game, allowing three runs, one earned, on four hits en route to the victory.
Akron (17-10, 0-0) comes to town winners of nine of its last 10 games, sweeping Morehead State Tuesday. Amber Lowe is the Zips' leading hitting, batting .363 and slugging .463, while Heather Bauer leads the pitching staff with a 9-4 record and a 1.67 ERA.
Ohio University visits Mary M. Bell Field for a weekend set starting Saturday. The Bobcats enter their first conference game on Friday with an 8-11 record. Ohio opens conference play in Kalamazoo, Mich. with a doubleheader against Western Michigan.
First pitch for the Huskies and Zips is set for 1 p.m., with the second game to follow. Fans can follow all the action live via Gametracker at www.niuhuskies.com. NIU is scheduled to face off against Ohio Saturday at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday.