April 12, 2012
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team continues its five game homestand when the Huskies welcome Mid-American Conference East foes Buffalo and Kent State to Mary M. Bell Field this weekend.
The Huskies (16-21, 4-4 MAC) will open the weekend with a doubleheader against Buffalo (9-20, 1-6) on Friday. First pitch for Game One is set for 1 p.m. with Game Two to follow. NIU will then face Kent State (20-18, 6-2) on Saturday and Sunday with game times set for 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively. Fans can follow all the action of this weekend's games live via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.
Northern Illinois looks to extend its three-game MAC winning streak began in Michigan last weekend. NIU took the second game of a doubleheader with Eastern Michigan, and then swept a two-game series with Central Michigan. The Huskie offense is playing particularly well in conference action batting .327, well above their season average of .289.
"Winning the conference is one of our goals," said NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. "Playing well this weekend in conference is important.
"We've always been pretty good hitting in conference. We stress hitting and setting a tone offensively and we've done a good job at that."
NIU will celebrate the careers of its seniors in the finale of the homestand Sunday on Senior Day. Seniors Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) and Carly Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) will recognized for their careers at Northern Illinois. Former Huskie Morgan Bittner (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic), who was unable to play this season due to injury, will be honored as well.
"It's a great weekend to honor those seniors," Chouinard said. "We hope they can the way they've been performing to this point and can come up big for us this weekend."
In three seasons, Bittner tallied 452 career strikeouts, placing her fifth all-time in NIU's record book, while her 182 K's in 2010 ranks second all-time at NIU and her 166 punchouts in 2009 ranks fifth. A five-time MAC West Pitcher of the Week selection, she was named to the MAC All-Freshman Team and earned second-team All-MAC honors in 2009.
In 2010, Norton was named second team All-MAC and was named to the Academic All-MAC Team after batting .400 in conference play and .243 on the season. Norton, a mechanical engineering major, was named second-team CoSIDA Academic All-District in 2011, earning Victory Scholar status within NIU's Academic Excellence Program.
A first-team All-MAC honoree last season, Parrish led the team in sacrifice bunts with nine and was second on the squad in hits with 45 in 2011. She tallied a career-high 50 hits and was named to the MAC All-Tournament Team in 2010. Parrish stole a career-high 10 bases as a sophomore and her 32 career stolen bases currently ranks fifth on NIU's all-time list.