Panthers stay hot, winners of 6 in a row



Hannah Kelley was named the MVC Player of the Week after a strong performance over the weekend.

BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

The UNI softball team continued their winning streak to close out the Panther Invitational on Sunday, Feb. 26, and into their following game against Mercer University on Tuesday, Feb. 28. 

After starting the Panther Invitational 4-0, the UNI Panthers continued their dominance in Georgia with a second matchup against the Western Carolina Catamounts. UNI beat WCU 9-0 earlier in the tournament and looked to finish the sweep of the weekend. The Panthers gave up a run in the first inning off of an error to fall behind 1-0.

UNI responded with a three-run inning of their own with two RBIs from Taylor Hogan and Alexis Pupillo followed by Hogan scoring off of a wild pitch to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead. Two scoreless innings followed before another four-run fifth inning that ultimately secured a UNI win. 

Madison Parks and Mya Dodge both had RBIs before Hannah Kelley capped off the game with a two-run home run to give UNI a 7-1 lead. Two final scoreless innings finished off the game and gave UNI a 5-0 record in the tournament.

Following the undefeated tournament run, UNI met up with Mercer University. The Panthers started well with a two-run triple from Dodge in the first inning. Mercer responded with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game 2-2. UNI was able to blow the doors open after this.

A Kylee Sanders RBI in the second inning followed by a Brooke Snider home run in the third was just the start of the Panthers growing lead. The fourth inning featured a Pupillo RBI followed by a two-run Parks home run and a Kelley RBI to give UNI a 9-2 lead.

The Panthers activated the mercy rule in the fifth inning after an Addison McElrath RBI followed by UNI’s third home run from Pupillo scoring two runs to give the Panthers a 10 run lead, 12-2. Snider’s second inning home run was her fourth of the season and her 14th of her career. Parks accounted for her third home run of the season against Mercer as well.

UNI has now won their last six games after starting off the season with six straight losses. This was exactly the type of stretch UNI needed to get their young season back on track as they look to repeat as conference champions. The Panthers will compete next in the I-75 Tournament where they will match up against Kennesaw State, Georgia Tech and Georgia State University. This tournament will take place from Thursday, March 2 through Saturday, March 4.