Panthers clobber Aces in 3-game sweep



The UNI softball team turned in a decisive victory over the Evansville Purple Aces in a three-game series April 2-3.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

The UNI softball team was locked in and poised during all three of their games this past weekend against the Purple Aces of Evansville, completing a doubleheader sweep on Friday and another victory on Saturday. The Panthers outscored their Missouri Valley Conference opponents 45-8 over the three games, winning by the scores of 22-7, 14-0 and 9-1. Their 22 runs scored in Friday’s first game were the most runs scored by the Panthers in any game so far this season, and the offensive strength carried over into the other two games in the series.

Northern Iowa was paced offensively by shortstop Sammy Bunch, who had two home runs, five runs scored and seven runs batted in at the top of the lineup for UNI. Eight different Panthers recorded a hit and seven recorded a run batted in.

The scoring started in the bottom of the first inning for UNI, as Taylor Hogan was walked with the bases loaded to draw the first run of the game. In the second inning, UNI first baseman Daryn Lamprecht knocked in three runs off of a double to center field, which opened the Panther lead even further. With the Panthers leading 7-1 in the fourth inning, Evansville put a dent in the UNI lead with a five-run inning.

After one Evansville run had already crossed the plate in the inning, Purple Ace’s first baseman Bella Coffey hit a grand slam off of UNI pitcher Erica Oler to plate four more runs and leave the score 7-6 in favor of UNI.

With the game within a one-run margin, the Panther offense exploded for an unprecedented 15 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Bunch homered twice in the inning, with a grand slam and a three-run homer. Catcher Emmy Wells also hit a two-run homer, and third baseman Brooke Snider knocked in two in the inning with a double to left.

UNI’s Erica Oler pitched four innings and allowed six earned runs, seven hits and struck out four Purple Aces in the game, moving her record to 3-3 on the year. Evansville’s Izzy Vetter was credited with the loss after allowing seven earned runs in three innings pitched. 

In game two on Saturday the Panthers picked up right where they left off in the first game, winning by the score of 14-0 against the Aces. UNI plated two in the first inning off Evansville pitcher Jaime Nurrenbern, one run from an Emmy Wells triple followed by an RBI groundout by Daryn Lamprecht. The Panthers tacked on two runs in the first, five in the second, four in the third and three in the fourth inning.

Pitcher Kailyn Packard was outstanding for the Panther women, allowing only three hits, no runs and 12 strikeouts. For the Purple Aces, Nurrenbern remained in for the whole game, allowing all 14 earned runs on 15 hits. Nine different Panthers recorded a hit in the game and seven recorded a run batted in.

Game three on Saturday was much of the same as the previous two contests between the MVC opponents, as the Panthers cruised to a 9-1 victory. Evansville’s Eryn Gould led off the game with a solo home run in the top of the first inning, but that would be all the Aces could muster in the game. UNI left fielder Kamryn Shaffer tied up the score in the bottom of the second with a solo homer of her own. The Panthers would then deal two big blows to the Aces and their starter Izzy Vetter. UNI’s Adara Opiola smacked a grand slam later in the second inning to put UNI up 5-1, and Brooke Snider hit a three-run homer in the third to extend the UNI lead to 8-1. The Panthers added another run in the fifth inning and closed the door on the Aces with a 9-1 victory and the series sweep.

The Panthers move to 15-13 overall on the season and 6-3 in conference play after the three wins. Up next, they will face Iowa State on Wednesday, April 7 at 3 p.m. at the Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex before a three game series at home against Valparaiso University from April 10-11.