April 30, 2009
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team embarks on its final road trip of the season when the Huskies travel to Kent and Buffalo this weekend looking to solidify a spot in the 2009 Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament.
NIU (15-34, 9-9) is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2-0 loss at Wisconsin Wednesday when Northern Illinois takes on Kent State in a doubleheader Friday. The Huskie offense, which had been on fire the previous five games, had a difficult time putting the ball in play against the Badgers, managing only three hits on the game.
"Our focus is conference play," NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said. "We'll have to bounce back and find a way to make those adjustments at the plate quicker this weekend."
Heading into this weekend's games, the NIU softball team sits in third place in the MAC West. Only the top two teams from each division plus the next four teams with the best conference winning percentage regardless of division make the 2009 MAC Tournament, which is taking place May 7-10 in Akron, Ohio. Heading into play this weekend, the Huskies would be one of the eight teams to advance to the conference tourney.
The Huskies have played very well in MAC action this season. The team is hitting .249 in MAC play, well above its .219 batting average over the course of the season. Emily Gooding (Lismore, Australia/Lake Land C.C.) and Bailey Ouellette (Beaverton, Ore./Beaverton) are batting .378 and .340 respectively against MAC foes.
Freshman Morgan Bittner (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) has pitched very in her first season in the circle for NIU. She's 9-17 with a 4.68 earned run average on the season, but 5-5 with a 3.87 ERA in conference play.
First pitch for the first game of the doubleheader between the Huskies and Golden Flashes is scheduled for 12 p.m. CST with game two to follow shortly after. NIU will then head up to Buffalo N.Y. for weekend set with the University at Buffalo Saturday and Sunday.