Panthers stay hot, clobber Drake 13-5

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  • UNI defeated their in-state rivals Drake on Tuesday, led by a strong offensive showing.

  • UNI’s Sammy Bunch has led the Panther offense the whole season, breaking her own school record for most home runs in the regular season with 19.

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On Tuesday, April 27, the UNI Panthers softball team hosted the Drake University Bulldogs at the Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex in Cedar Falls. The Panthers entered this game with a record of 24-16 on the season, whereas the Bulldogs entered 14-26. The two teams met a week prior to this matchup on April 20, a doubleheader that the two teams split. In this game, UNI got off to a slow start, but the offense exploded in the later innings, allowing the Panthers to come away with a 13-5 victory in six innings.

The game started with a bang for the Bulldogs when Libby Ryan led off the game with a solo home run to give Drake an early 1-0 advantage. The Bulldogs put up two more runs in the inning, one from an RBI single and the other from a walk, taking a 3-0 advantage entering the bottom of the first. After going scoreless in the first and second innings, UNI finally got the offense going in the bottom of the third. Daryn Lamprecht drew a walk with the bases loaded to drive in the first run and Kamryn Shaffer hit a two-RBI double to drive in two more, tying the game at 3-3 heading into the fourth inning.

After again holding the Bulldogs scoreless in the top of the fourth, the UNI offense exploded in the bottom of the inning. Adara Opiola, Brooke Snider, and Madison Parks all had RBIs in the inning, driving in a combined four runs. However, none of them would have the biggest hit of the inning, as that honor would go to Shaffer. Stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded, Shaffer sent the ball over the right field fence for a grand slam, driving in four runs. In the inning, the Panthers scored eight runs to take an 11-3 lead.

The Bulldogs got back on the board in the fifth, scoring two runs, while also holding the Panthers scoreless in the bottom half. In the sixth inning, needing just two more runs to end the game via run rule, Opiola stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second base. She sent a line drive into right field that scored the two runs and ended the game, with UNI coming away with a 13-5 victory in six innings.

Shaffer had a fantastic game for the Panthers, driving in a team-high six runs including the grand slam. Opiola also had a nice game, driving in four runs including the game ending double. Samantha Heyer had a strong pitching performance, allowing only three hits with two runs in her five innings of relief.

With the win the Panthers improve to 25-16 on the season. Next up will be a three-game series against the Illinois State Redbirds in Normal, Ill on Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2 (the Redbirds currently sit in first place in the MVC with the Panthers in second). They will then complete their regular season with another three-game series at home against the Southern Illinois Salukis on Saturday, May 8 and Sunday, May 9.