Panthers run-rule Drake, 9-1



Alexis Pupillo (10), the reigning MVC Newcomer of the Week, continued her strong play on Tuesday, hitting two home runs in the 9-1 victory.

Braden Elton, Sports Writer

UNI continued their winning streak at the Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex with a 9-1 victory over Drake. The win marks a 4-0 record at the sports complex and their sixth win in their last seven games. 

After allowing just one hit in the top of the first inning, the UNI offense was able to get their bats rolling. The Panthers reached base on four straight appearances. Leadoff hitter Kylee Sanders reached first base on an error by the Bulldogs’ second baseman Aubree Beitzinger. Alexis Pupillo then connected on a pitch and sent it over the center field fence to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. UNI added to their lead following back-to-back doubles from outfielders Madison Parks and Mya Dodge, ending the inning up 3-0. 

The Panthers defense continued to showcase their talent as starting pitcher Samantha Heyer didn’t allow a hit in the top of the second inning. UNI started off slow in the bottom of the second with two swift outs. Despite those early outs, the Panthers still managed to gain three more runs in the inning. Parks had a stand-up RBI double as she hit the ball deep into left field. Pupillo, who reached base on a walk, crossed home plate to give the Panthers a 4-0 lead. Dodge followed that up with a homer over center field to give UNI a decisive 6-0 lead. 

Drake was able to get their only run of the game in the top of the third inning as Emily Valtman had a sacrifice flyout RBI to advance Sami Miller to home plate, resulting in a 6-1 lead for UNI. The Panthers were unfazed heading into the bottom of the third as they added to their score from two more doubles belonging to Hannah Kelley and Kate Lappe, making the score 7-1. 

In the top of the fourth UNI was able to get their seventh double play of the year to get out of the inning. Sanders fielded a ground ball and threw it to second baseman Taylor Hogan for the first out. Hogan then turned towards first base and threw the ball to Lappe for the double play, effectively ending the inning.

The fifth inning came and went fast, as only one player from both teams was able to make it on base. In the top of the sixth inning Drake was looking for some late game heroics. The Bulldogs had two runners on base threatening to score as Heyer threw her sixth strikeout of the game, ending the inning. 

In the bottom of the sixth the Panthers had an opportunity to end the game a half inning early due to the NCAA’s run rule stating that if a team is up by eight or more runs in the fifth inning or later, the run-ahead rule will go into effect, ending the game.
Sanders began the inning with a single through the right side of the infield, which ultimately set up the game winning play from Pupillo. Pupillo, calm and collected, stepped up to the plate and hit her second home run on the night over the right field fence. The final score was 9-1 as UNI prevailed over Drake in their first meeting of the season. 

The Panthers will welcome Southern Illinois to Cedar Falls this weekend for a three game stint against the Salukis. The first game starts on Friday, April 14 at 5 p.m. at the Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex.