Northern Iowan

Panthers go 2-1 versus Redbirds, 0-2 vs Drake

PATRICK HANSEN, Sports Writer

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The UNI women’s softball team started a five-game stretch on the road, meeting Illinois State and Drake University on the way.

  On Saturday, April 6, the Redbirds hosted the Panthers in a doubleheader and would fall to UNI in both games, 6-2 and 5-0.

In game one of the double-header, the Panthers took the lead in the third inning with a two-run home run from the third baseman, Adara Opiola. The score remained the same until the Redbirds tied the game in the bottom of the fifth.

Catcher Ashley Chesser then replied with a solo homer to lead off the top of the sixth, followed by shortstop Sammey Bunch giving the purple and gold plenty of breathing room as she hit a three-run home run to push the lead to 6-2, which ultimately became the final score

In game two, pitching was key for the Panthers as starter Jaclyn Spencer threw a complete game shutout, allowing just five hits and two walks.

The women of UNI gained the lead in the second inning off a fielder’s error and managed to get two, two-run homers by Bunch, as well as Courtney Krodinger, to finish off the Redbirds 5-0.

In the third game of the series, the Panthers were unable to complete the sweep as they fell 6-5.

The pitching never really got going in the loss as Emma Olenjniczak came on to start, but was relieved after walking the first two batters she faced. Spencer and Brooke Craig both came into the game to relieve but both allowed two earned runs.

The Panthers started to make a comeback as they were down two in the final inning, with Bunch recording her fifth straight game with a home run as she brought the game within one in the seventh.

The effort wasn’t enough to propel UNI to the win. Following the three-game series, Bunch was named MVC player of the week. This was  the fourth time in her career she has claimed that award.

On Tuesday, April 9, the Panthers traveled to Des Moines to take on conference-best Drake in a doubleheader. Olejniczak had a tough outing as she lasted just two innings, walking five batters and allowing three runs (two earned).

UNI had a tough time coming through with runners in scoring position as they stranded seven runners on and struck out 12 times in the 3-1 loss.

The Panthers struggled to find comfort while pitching in game two as Spencer allowed six runs in two-and-a-third innings, followed by Hannah Kelley and Craig pitching in relief with a combined five allowed runs.

The purple and gold were able to get their first run in the fourth off a walk, and back-to-back homers in the fifth, but fell to Drake 11-3 in five innings.

The Panthers return home Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14, for a three-game homestand against Valparaiso.

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Panthers go 2-1 versus Redbirds, 0-2 vs Drake