April 2, 2014
No. 24 Northwestern 14, UIC 7
EVANSTON, Ill. – The UIC softball team (6-14) got into trouble in the first inning and tried to make a comeback, but came up short to No. 24 Northwestern (20-8), 14-7, on Wednesday at Drysdale Field. Senior Jacki Fletcher homered twice for her first career multi-home run game as she was credited with four of the Flames’ seven RBI.
“I was disappointed with how we started the game,” head coach Michelle Venturella said. “There is no excuse for our first inning. After that, we did a better job of playing the game. Our offense continued to put pressure on their defense by scoring in multiple innings. Elaine (Heflin) and Erica (Hampton) did a nice job of managing a strong hitting lineup. We need to learn from this and shift our focus to our series with Wright State.”
UIC got on the board in the first inning after a single by junior Paige Peterson brought up Fletcher, who hit her first home run of the season over the left field wall to put the Flames up 2-0.
The Wildcats headed into the bottom of the inning and powered to a 12-2 lead following six hits in aid with three UIC errors. Northwestern would then add to its total with one in the bottom of the second and third.
The Flames scored an additional two in the top of the third as Fletcher hit her second home run of the game with the assistance of the left fielder to bring in senior Natalie Hernandez, who was hit by a pitch.
In the fifth, senior Courtney Heeley led off and reached on an error before advancing to third after a Hernandez single and another Wildcat error. Back-to-back hit by pitches to Fletcher and senior Jenna Marsalli and a free base for sophomore Laura Swan walked in two before junior Erica Hampton hit a sac fly to score the third of the frame and take the game through seven innings.
The Flames circled through their pitching staff in the first inning after sophomore Bridget Boyle received the start and sophomore Alice Fitzpatrick and freshman Elaine Heflin both came in as relief. Heflin closed out the game after 5.2 innings, four hits allowed and one earned run while she struck out seven, her second-best tally this season after blanking eight batters against Eastern Illinois (Feb. 7).
UIC returns home for a three-game Horizon League series against Wright State this weekend. On Saturday, the Flames will honor their alumni, as well as the 1994 Women’s College World Series team, before their doubleheader at noon CT and will return on Sunday for a single game at noon.