Softball heads to DeKalb

The Bulls look to stay undefeated in conference play against Northern Illinois

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The Bulls (11-14, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) will travel to DeKalb, Illinois this weekend to compete in a three-game series against the Northern Illinois Huskies (10-20, 1-2 MAC). This is their second series against a MAC opponent this season, after sweeping the Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-22, 0-3 MAC) last weekend.

The Bulls head in with 11 wins this season. First year head coach Mike Roberts has been able to turn this team around after last year’s disappointing season, finishing 9-46 with only three wins in conference play. After only one series, they have been able to match that total and will look to grow it starting Friday.

Junior pitcher Ally Power comes in as the reigning MAC East player of the week after having two stellar outings a week ago. Power opened up conference play with her first career no-hitter for the Bulls. She pitched five innings and struck out five in route to a 9-1 victory. This was the teams first no-hitter since current assistant coach Tori Speckman threw one in 2014. Power followed that start-up with another five inning, five strikeout performance. She finished the weekend 2-0 with an 0.00 earned run average. Pitching to an 8-7 record, she is having the best season of her career so far with an 3.72 ERA and 10 complete games under her belt. Her success on the mound will determine if the Bulls can win against the Huskies who average 3.7 runs per game.

Offensively, the Bulls are led by a sophomore duo. Catcher Jessica Goldyn and Infielder Jenelle Martinez have the two highest batting averages on the team. Goldyn hits in the two spot for the Bulls and is coming in hot at the plate. The three-game series against Eastern Michigan saw her go 6-for-10 from the plate with four runs scored and three runs batted in. Martinez hits right behind her in the three spot. She leads the team in home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage and is tied with Goldyn for the team lead-in hits. Martinez comes in batting 1-for-6 in her last three games with her lone hit being a two-run home run.

The Huskies are led by junior outfielder Jenny Van Geertry, who has a stellar .422 batting average while starting all 30 games. As the leadoff hitter, her job is to get on base. She has achieved this in nearly half of her at bats with a .495 on-base percentage. She opened conference play only reaching twice in nine at bats, but was two-for-two in her last game. From the mound, Tara Thacker is the Huskies’ best player, starting 16 games and pitching 20. She has had an inconsistent season with her ERA ranging from 2.47 to 7.64. The Bulls pitching will need to perform well against Van Geertry, but the offense should remain consistent with Thacker on the mound.

The three game series begins Friday at 4 p.m. and continues with a double header on Saturday with game times at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Nathaniel Mendelson is a staff writer and can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com.