The Eastern Michigan University softball team beat Northern Illinois University 7-3 Sunday afternoon on Senior Day in the final game of the season at Varsity field, but the win alone wasn’t enough to capture a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament starting next week.
In order to receive a MAC Tournament berth, the Eagles needed Bowling Green University and Buffalo University to lose Sunday. Instead, Buffalo and Bowling Green won, ending postseason hopes for EMU.
Jamie Melchert started the game for EMU, but senior Michelle Hletko pitched four solid innings in relief and received her second win in two days. Hletko’s season record improved to 4-1 with the win.
The win gives EMU a final record of 18-30-1 overall and 8-13-1 in the MAC. The loss puts NIU at 22-32 overall and 10-10 in the MAC. The Huskies are in place to take the sixth seed in the tournament.
Although NIU scored first, EMU took the early 2-1 lead in the first inning off a line drive up the third base line from sophomore catcher Sarah Gerber. Gerber went 3-3 with two RBIs and one run scored.
Assistant coach Eric Oakley said Gerber has been one of the most valuable players for the team this season, alongside senior Jenny Scherer. He said that he likes the teamwork they have shown all season.
“They play together and for each other,” Oakley said.
In 2007, the Eagles won the MAC championship, but they will fall short of their goal this year. Oakley said you can’t compare the 2007 championship team to the team this year because the teams were different.
“In 2007, we had seven seniors on our team,” he said. “This year we only had three.”
The Huskies regained the lead in the top of the fourth inning when sophomore Dani Parrish belted a line drive that almost hit pitcher Hletko in the face on its way into center field. The hit pushed the score to 3-2 and gave the lead back to the Huskies.
A four-run fifth inning put the Eagles out in front for good. Junior Stacie Skodinski hit a double over the head of the left fielder to score two more runs. Skodinski batted in two RBIs and had one run scored. Freshman Nellie Coquillard and sophomore Kaylee Tolliver each added an RBI in the bottom of the fifth inning to send the score to 6-3.
The Eagles added one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it harder for the Huskies’ comeback. The team showed the great teamwork Oakley praised them for by stepping up its defensive efforts toward the end of the game. The game ended on an infield pop fly with bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning.