April 3, 2014
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team returns to Mid-American Conference play this as the Huskies play host to Western Michigan for a pair of games at Mary M. Bell Field this weekend.
First pitch for Saturday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT while Sunday's contest will start at 1 p.m. CT. Fans can follow all the action live via Gametracker on NIUHuskies.com or they can watch it live on NIUTube. Monthly subscriptions are $6.95 with a yearly subscription at $49.95.
NIU (13-16, 1-3) is looking up at the Broncos (11-21, 2-2) in the MAC West Division after the first weekend of conference play last week.
"We've got to play catch up now," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "That's the situation we put ourselves in. We know that so we have to come in understanding that everyone is trying to put some distance between us and them. We have to make sure that doesn't happen. This is a key weekend for us."
The Huskies are coming off of a doubleheader sweep of North Dakota Wednesday afternoon. The Huskie bats came alive against North Dakota as NIU tallied 26 hits in the two games, 13 each game, and every player in the NIU line up recorded a hit in the two games.
Kayti Grable (Santee, Calif./Santana), Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) and Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) each had multi-hit games but Naegele stood out going 5-for-6 with four RBI and three runs scored in the two games combined. Miller and Grable had four hits each in the two games.
Pitchers Rebecca Rupard (Normal, Ill./Normal West) and Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) threw complete games after each had their early game struggles. Rupard, who pitched in game one, went seven innings, gave up nine hits and five runs, four earned. Sturm pitched five innings in game two, giving up two runs on two hits. Both Sturm and Rupard contributed with the bat in the first game, each going 2-for-4 with Sturm getting three RBIs and Rupard adding a solo homerun.
The Broncos are making their second trip to DeKalb in as many weekends. Western Michigan was a part of last weekend's slate of games at Mary M. Bell Field. The Broncos split their series with Toledo and Bowling Green and are coming off of a win against Valparaiso Tuesday, where pitcher Allyson Kus threw a two-hit shutout.
WMU is led offensively by outfielders Melissa Palmer, Jenny Rohn and shortstop Sabrina Gamboa. Palmer and Rohn boast .356 and .320 batting averages respectively, tops among lineup regulars for the Broncos and Gamboa adds some pop to the lineup with four homeruns, 18 RBI and a .452 slugging percentage.