The Ball State softball team fell to Northern Illinois in its first game of the 2013 Mid-American Conference tournament.
The No. 4 Huskies held the top-seeded Cardinals to just three hits on the day. MAC Player of the Year Jennifer Gilbert scored the team’s lone run with her 22nd homer of the season.
Emily Norton, the sophomore pitcher for Northern Illinois, pitched a complete game. Norton struck out four of the 28 batters she faced on the day.
Prior to today’s game, the 35-16 Cardinals had been held to one run just six times in 2013. It was not the style of play that Ball State would like to see in a tournament game.
Nonetheless, MAC Freshman of the Year Nicole Steinbach was able to keep things close for most of the afternoon. She allowed just seven hits and three runs over seven innings.
Heading into the seventh, the score remained 1-1, but Northern Illinois capitalized on a two-out single to bring in their second run of the game. An errant throw into third base allowed a second run on the play, giving NIU the 3-1 advantage.
Freshman Selena Reyna singled in the bottom of the seventh. To no avail though, as Norton was able to retire the next two batters and close the game.
The Ball State softball team was voted the preseason favorite to win the MAC Tournament, and looked primed to do just that after capturing the regular-season title last weekend.
The Huskies, now 26-29 on the season, certainly surprised the Cardinals, but Ball State will have a chance to bounce back on Friday.
The Cardinals will play No. 8 seed Toledo at 11 a.m. in an elimination game.