Panthers go 2-1 at I-75 Classic



Alexis Pupillo continued her strong freshman season, hitting two home runs in three games over the weekend, including a two-run bomb against Georgia Tech.

PAUL NOBLE, Sports Writer

The UNI softball team traveled to Georgia this past weekend to compete in the I-75 Classic. The Panthers finished 2-1 on the weekend and will head back to Cedar Falls with its first winning record of the year.

The year for the Panther softball team has been an up-and-down roller coaster. UNI started the year 0-6 before rattling off six straight wins at the Panther Invitational last weekend to enter the I-75 Classic at 6-6. 

The I-75 Classic featured Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Brown and UNI. Due to how the tournament unfolded and a rain delay, UNI only faced Georgia Tech once and competed in a doubleheader against Kennesaw State.

UNI’s first game was against Georgia Tech on Friday. The Panthers, who entered Friday’s game having scored 48 runs in the past six games, struggled mightily to get going offensively. While Alexis Pupillo and Brooke Snider managed doubles in the first and second inning, an RBI single and a grand slam from Georgia Tech moved the score to 5-0. The Panthers continued to struggle, while the Yellow Jackets stayed hot and ran up the score to 12-0 after the fourth inning. UNI responded with a 2-run homer from Pupillo in the fifth, but the game was called shortly after due to the eight-run rule, which ends the game when eight or more runs differentiate the score.

On Saturday, UNI’s doubleheader with Kennesaw State went much better. In their first game, the Panthers and Owls battled all afternoon defensively. The first hit didn’t occur until the fourth inning when UNI’s Mya Dodge’s double scored Madison Parks to bring the score to 1-0. UNI kept up the offensive action in the fourth, but a strikeout to end the inning would leave three Panthers on base. However, a solo homer from Daryn Lamprecht in the fifth gave the Panthers some breathing room. The Owls closed the gap by one in the sixth and entered the bottom of the seventh down by one. 

Kennesaw State managed to get a runner on second and third, but a clutch strikeout from Samantha Heyer ended the game with a 2-1 UNI victory.

Exactly thirty minutes after UNI’s first win, the Owls and Panthers trotted out on the field to battle again. UNI wasted no time getting on the board this time and kicked off the game with a Kylee Sanders solo homer to get things started. Dodge followed up Sanders’ homer with her own RBI to bring the score to 2-0. Pupillo tacked on another solo homer in the third to extend the lead to 3-0. The Panthers continued to tack on runs, earning a run in the fifth and scoring two more in the seventh to close out a 6-1 victory over the Owls. The victory brings UNI to 8-7 on the year and over .500 for the first time this season.

The Panthers will next travel to Tulsa, Okla., on Friday, where they’ll play five games in three days against Tulsa and Sam Houston State, their final series before conference play begins.