April 30, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. -The Northern Illinois University softball team travels to Chicago to take on DePaul in a midweek affair Wednesday afternoon.
First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Central Time and fans can follow all the action live, via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.
"It's good to play a team like DePaul down the stretch here," said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. "It gives our team a chance to see how close we are to competing on a national level. I think we've shown against Baylor and Notre Dame earlier in the year that we're going to compete with anyone we play."
The Huskies (20-28, 10-8 MAC) head into their game against the Blue Demons looking to build off a 3-1 weekend in Mid-American Conference play. NIU split its doubleheader with Akron Friday before sweeping its series with Ohio over the weekend. Northern Illinois has won seven of its last 10 games and according to Sutcliffe, solid defense and timely hitting have been keys for the Huskies or late.
"I think we've been making the defensive play when it matters, when the pressure's on," she said. "That's definitely not what we had been doing early in the season. We've been pretty successful capitalizing on base hits. When you're scoring five runs on three hits, that shows you're being patient at the plate."
First baseman Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncali) and pitcher Emily Norton(Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) garnered MAC West player and pitcher of the week honors respectively for their performances last week.
Barnett hit an amazing .769 going 10-for-13 from plate, including a home run and a double, drove in six runs and scored a run in five games last week. Norton continued her dominance in the circle, going 2-0 and recorded her first save of the season in five appearances last week. The sophomore hurler allowed 12 hits, walked four and struck out 16.
DePaul (28-18, 14-5 BIG EAST) split its last four contests heading into Tuesday's game at Northwestern. The Blue Demons boast the reigning BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week in Kirsten Verdun. The DePaul ace was 4-1 last week with a 1.13 ERA and batters hit just .186 against her.
Following its game with DePaul, Northern Illinois welcomes Toledo and Bowling Green to Mary M. Bell Field for a weekend set. NIU will face the Rockets in doubleheader Friday while the Falcons will be in town Saturday and Sunday.