Posted by Tim Neubert on May 01, 2024
This week's speaker was Christina Sutcliffe, Head Softball Coach at NIU. Christina is in her 12th season at NIU. Her assistant coaches are Alaynie Woollard and Hannah Clark.
The 2024 team's roster is primarily represented by talent from the Great Lakes region, with players hailing from Illinois (14), Indiana (4), Ohio (2), Wisconsin (2), California (2), Florida (2), Iowa, and Arizona. The team leads the MAC in Stolen Bases and is Top 10 in the country for Stolen Bases Per Game. Infielder Caitlyn Shumaker (Senior, Ohio) has broken NIU's career stolen base record, while Catcher and Outfielder Ellis Erickson (Senior, Florida) has one of the longest hitting streaks in the country.
The NIU softball facilities have recently been upgraded with pole and fence removal to enhance fan viewing, backstop padding, graphic-wrapped outfield fences and padding on the top rails, refreshed visitor bullpen, refreshed hitting cage, reroofed dugouts, and an expanded bullpen for the home team. A capital campaign project is currently underway to raise funds for improved and enlarged dugouts.
During her tenure, Coach Sutcliffe's teams (and individual players) have accumulated many athletic honors, including:
  • 13 MAC Pitchers of the Week
  • 22 MAC Players of the Week
  • 19 First Team All MAC
  • 12 Second Team All MAC
  • 3 MAC Freshman of the Year
  • 3 All Great Lakes Region 1st team, 6 2nd Team, 5 3rd Team
  • 5 MAC Nan Harvey Winners
  • 1 NFCA All American 3rd Team
  • 1 NFCA Top 25 Freshman of the year (1st in MAC history)
  • Broken 26 NIU records
In the meantime, Christina and her assistant coaches have kept a strong focus on academic success as well. In the past decade, NIU Softball has also had:
  • 132 MAC Academic Honor Roll Players
  • 62 MAC Commissioner’s Awards
  • 21 MAC President’s Awards
  • 18 MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes
  • 122 NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes
  • 77 Academic All MAC
  • 11 CoSIDA Academic All District 1st Team, 1 2nd Team
  • 2 CoSIDA Academic All American 1st Team (first since 1988), 2 3rd Team
  • Team was 4th in the country in SB GPA in 2022-2023
The NIU Softball team is also very active in community service, with each player completing at least 20 hours per year. One of their favorite causes is Cal's Angels, a St. Charles-based 501(c)(3) pediatric cancer foundation with a mission of granting wishes, raising awareness, and funding research to help kids fighting cancer. Christina is always seeking additional opportunities for her team to serve the DeKalb and Sycamore community.
Christina Sutcliffe has set a high bar for her team with the following mission and vision:
United as one, we are competitive and resilient on and off the field. We hold each other accountable to exceed our standards and achieve excellence. As a pack, we proudly represent our school and our community.
Forward together, we buy into the hard work and mental toughness it takes to become champions. By outworking everyone and executing our goals, we will become the powerhouse of the MAC.
You can still catch one (or all) of the team's three remaining home games this weekend:
  • Saturday, May 4, 11:00 AM, vs. Miami University (OH), Mary M. Bell Field
  • Saturday, May 4, 1:00 PM, vs. Miami University (OH), Mary M. Bell Field
  • Sunday, May 6, 12:00 PM, vs. Miami University (OH), Mary M. Bell Field