Panthers sweep Salukis in MVC opening series

The UNI softball team opened up Missouri Valley Conference play this weekend, earning a sweep of the Southern Illinois Salukis in Carbondale, Ill. The Panthers will return home to host Missouri State.

DAVID WARRINGTON

After an up-and-down non-conference schedule, the UNI softball team got the Missouri Valley Conference schedule started this past weekend, hitting the road to take on the Southern Illinois Salukis at Charlotte West Stadium in Carbondale, Ill. Despite entering the series two games below .500 at 8-10, the Panthers, who were projected to win the MVC in a pre-season poll, got the series sweep, picking up three wins over SIU.

In the series opener on Saturday, UNI looked to be in major trouble early. After two innings, the Panthers found themselves down 9-2, risking not only a loss, but invoking the run-rule in the fifth inning. However, UNI bounced back to score three runs in the third inning, followed by at least two runs in each of the next three innings, capped off by a seven-run sixth. In a game that included 30 runs, 29 hits and eight home runs, UNI got the victory, 17-13.

In the second game of the series, UNI got on the board first when Daryn Lamprecht scored on a Saluki error in the second inning. With the help of an Emmy Wells home run and another Lamprecht run off of an error in the fourth, the Panthers led 3-2 entering the seventh inning. That’s when the UNI offense exploded. Led by a solo homer from Mya Dodge and a two-run blast from Madison Parks, UNI put up five runs in the frame, taking an 8-2 lead. The bottom of the seventh wasn’t drama free as the Salukis scored four runs to get the game closer, but UNI ultimately held on, 8-6.

Looking for the series sweep, the Panthers got the offense going in the third, scoring two runs to take a 2-1 lead. After the Salukis took a 3-2 lead entering the fifth, the UNI offense, as it seemed to do all weekend, exploded, this time putting up six runs in the frame. Kylee Sanders got the rally started with a double that scored two, and it concluded with a two-run single from Lamprecht. No more runs were scored by either team, resulting in UNI winning by a final of 8-3, securing the series sweep.

With the three victories, UNI improves to 11-10 on the year, as well as a perfect 3-0 in conference play. They will be back on the road this weekend, traveling to Evansville, Ind. to take on the Evansville Purple Aces. The three-games series will take place this Saturday and Sunday, March 26 and 27. UNI will come to Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex for the first time the weekend after, hosting Missouri State for another three-game series on Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3.