April 18, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team resumes Mid-American Conference play when it travels to Kent State and Buffalo this weekend.
The Huskies (13-26, 3-7) will take on Kent State (19-14-1, 9-3) in doubleheader action Friday with Game One starting at 12 p.m. Central Time, with the second game to follow at 2 p.m. CT. NIU will then travel to Buffalo (12-24, 5-7) for a weekend series with the Bulls. The series opens Saturday at 1 p.m. CT and concludes Sunday at 12 p.m.
Northern Illinois look to build on a series sweep against Eastern Michigan last weekend and an offensive explosion in an 11-9 loss at Northwestern Tuesday afternoon. The Huskies scored nine runs on seven hits and 10 base on balls.
"Hopefully we can stay consistent, 1-9 in the line up with some run production and get the clutch hit when we need it," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "Attack early is going to be our theme and keeping the multi-run innings off the scoreboard will probably be the difference."
Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) opened the offensive barrage with a solo home run over the left field fence. It was her career-high and team-leading sixth round tripper of the season for the Huskie utility player. Kopp, a slapper by trade has shown a great deal off pop from her bat this season. Currently riding a modest six-game hitting streak, she leads the team in slugging percentage at .537, sacrifice bunts with seven and walks (12).
"She's gaining confidence with every swing," Sutcliffe said." Even her BP is starting to look more powerful. I think she's realizing she is capable of doing of that. Once you hit one [home run], you know you can do it. Pretty soon you start hitting more of them."
The Golden Flashes come into Friday's games winners of three of their last four games including a series sweep of Bowling Green last weekend. Kim Kirkpatrick leads the way for the Kent State offense with a .330 batting average with 35 hits and 21 runs scored. Pitcher Emma Johnson is a league-leading 14-7 with a 1.81 earned run average.
Buffalo, which hosts Western Michigan in a doubleheader Friday, has won six of its last eight games. Alexis Curtiss paces the Bull offense with a .295 batting average and 31 hits, while Tori Speckman is the leader of the pitching staff with a 7-6 record and 2.21 ERA.