May 5, 2009
2009 MAC Tournament Bracket
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team earned a fifth seed for the 2009 Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament and will open against Miami University, the No. 4 seed, at Firestone Stadium Wednesday. First pitch is slated for 10 a.m. CST.
"We're excited to be there," NIU head coach Lindsay Chiounard said. "We've played really good softball the past two weeks."
The Huskies (18-35, 12-10), who are returning to the MAC Tournament after a year absence, are making their first appearance in the conference tourney under second-year head coach Lindsay Chouinard. NIU dropped both games to Miami (OH) (28-21, 13-8) when the two played a doubleheader April 18 earlier this season in Oxford, Ohio. The RedHawks won game one, 4-3, and took the second game 7-0.
The Huskies enter the tournament playing some of their best softball of the season. NIU has won seven of its last 10 games and enter play Wednesday with a three game winning streak. NIU swept Buffalo over the weekend winning 3-1 on Saturday and 6-2 Sunday.
Senior Katie Colby (Waukesha, Wis./West) has been swinging a hot bat of late, hitting .375 in her last seven games, going 6-for-16. Last week, she hit two home runs, belting her first career homer in NIU's 3-0 victory over Kent State Friday, and then blasted a solo shot Sunday against the Bulls. A .257 hitter on the season, fellow senior Bailey Ouellette (Beaverton, Ore./Beaverton) is batting .300 over her last 10 games, going 9-for-30 at the plate with a triple two runs batted in and three runs scored.
The Huskies' offense has performed well at the plate during conference play. NIU is batting .239 against MAC foes, better than its .217 average on the season.
"It's about getting to a good place mentally," Chouinard said. "We talked about that over the last couple of weeks. It's the end of the year, and we need to make things happen. We're doing a good job of swinging the bat and getting those hits when it matters."
While Northern Illinois has solid senior leadership, freshman pitcher, Morgan Bittner (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) has grown up fast during her first season of collegiate softball. She is 12-18 on the season with a 4.22 earned run average and 143 strikeouts. In her last 10 games in the circle, Bittner's gone 6-2 with a 2.35 ERA.
"I just hope she continues to get better with every outing," Chouinard said. "I hope she trusts her defense and her wrist, and continue to get ahead."
Northern Illinois is 10-16 all-time in the MAC Tournament and 1-1 against Miami (OH). The Huskies defeated the RedHawks, 1-0, when the two met in the 2007 MAC Softball Tournament.