UNI falls short over the weekend at Charlotte Invitational

DREW HILL, Opinion Columnist

The UNI softball team competed in the Niner Invitational in Charlotte, N.C., hosted by the Charlotte 49ers, on Feb. 25 and 26. The tournament took place over three days and matched the Panthers against Charlotte, Minnesota and Wichita State.

UNI began by facing off with the Wichita State Shockers. After a scoreless first inning for both teams, UNI’s Brooke Snider hit a home run that also brought Taylor Hogan home to give them a 2-0 lead. Wichita State erupted in the second inning for six runs to take a 6-2 lead into the third inning off UNI pitcher Kailyn Packard. Madison Parks picked up another run in the third to cut the Shocker lead to 6-3. Two more runs in the fifth pulled the Panthers within one at 6-5, but the Shockers scored three runs in the fifth to increase the lead to 9-5 and held on for the win.

UNI’s second game on Friday was against Minnesota. The Gophers roared out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings. Samantha Heyer replaced Hailey Sanders as the pitcher near the end of the second and kept Minnesota off the scoreboard for the rest of the game. The Panthers began whittling down the lead with a Kylee Sanders run at the bottom of the second. Parks hit a home run in the next inning, also bringing in Hogan to cut the lead to 5-3. The next three innings were scoreless for both teams. However, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Snider hit a home run to cut the lead to one. The next three batters got out, though, and Minnesota held off UNI for the 5-4 win.

UNI got a rematch with Minnesota the next day. The game was a battle between the pitchers for most of the game. Minnesota scored three runs in the third inning, and that proved to be the decisive factor, as the Panthers were unable to score.

The Panther women finished Saturday against Charlotte. This game went back-and-forth as the teams traded runs. Parks and Emmy Wells had runs in the first inning to get UNI out to a 2-0 lead. Charlotte picked up three runs in the bottom of the first to take the 3-2 lead. Sanders responded in the second with a run for UNI to tie it up. Neither team scored until the bottom of the fourth, when Charlotte got a run with the bases loaded on a walk. Neither team could score for the rest of the game. UNI had a chance to get a run in the seventh, as they got a batter to second base, but the next three batters got out, and the 49ers won 4-3.

UNI’s next game is March 2 in Nashville, Tenn., against Lipscomb University.