May 7, 2013
2013 MAC Softball Tournament Central
DEKALB, Ill. –The Northern Illinois University softball team begins its pursuit of a Mid-American Conference championship when the Huskies open the 2013 MAC Softball Tournament at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio Wednesday.
“Having the bye is going to help. It only gives us that one game on Wednesday,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Staying in the winner’s bracket is going to be huge. If we can continue to stay clutch and not press, take good swings at good pitches and continue to make the plays we need to, we’ll be successful.”
The Huskies (24-29, 14-8) enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the MAC, winning 13 of their last 14 league contests. NIU, the No. 4 seed, will face the winner of the Miami-Toledo game earlier in the day. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Central Time and fans can follow all the action live at the 2013 MAC Softball Championship Central page. Northern Illinois dropped a pair to Miami earlier in the year and swept Toledo this past weekend.
“We’ve won 13 of the last 14 games,” Sutcliffe said. “We’re aware of that, we’re aware that team’s have taken notice of that fact. We’re going into the tournament wanting to prove something. I’m not sure many people out there are giving us a chance. We know what we have and we know we have a chance.”
Leading the way for NIU are first-team All-MAC selections Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) and Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins). The pair are one and two in batting for the Huskies with Barnett batting .363 with 57 hits and Gremillion hitting at a .346 clip with 56 hits. Barnett is 4-for-19 with a home run, three runs batted in and two runs scored during her MAC Tournament career.
Northern Illinois is 17-26 overall in MAC Tournament play and is seeking the school’s first MAC Tournament championship. NIU advanced to the championship game in 1999, falling to Central Michigan, 3-0. In 2010, the Huskies made a run, going 3-2 in the tournament before falling to Kent State, 1-0, in the semifinals.
This is the Huskies’ first tournament appearance since 2011 and 14th tournament overall. Northern Illinois went 0-2 that year, falling to Central Michigan and Miami.