UNI dominant in sweep of Salukis



Mya Dodge was one of many standout Panthers in their dominant sweep this weekend against Southern Illinois.

ADAM JOHNSON, Sports Writer

UNI softball had a home series against Southern Illinois on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15. The Salukis came into the series with a 29-8 record and a 10-4 record in conference play. The Panthers, who came into this series with a 12-1 conference record, were battling an opponent that was right up near the top of the conference standings with them. 

The action on Friday featured a double header. The first game did not get off to the start that the Panthers would have liked. In the top of the first inning, with Kailyn Packard in the circle, the Panthers defense gave up three runs that came across unearned. However, the Panthers wasted no time getting back. With a runner on first, Alexis Pupillo got the party started with a two-run blast. A little later in the inning, Mya Dodge hit a solo home run, and just like that, the game was tied.

The Panthers kept the Salukis quiet in the second, and then it was back to work with the bats. Dodge struck again with the bases loaded, hitting a triple and driving in three runs. The Panthers added two more runs in the inning and took an 8-3 lead. The Salukis would add a run in the third, but it would never be enough. In the bottom of the inning, Kylee Sanders, Dodge and Addison McElrath all sent the ball out of the park. Dodge hit her home run with a runner on, and it was her second of the day. In the bottom of the fourth, the home run party continued. Daryn Lamprecht, Pupillo, and Dodge all hit home runs. Pupillo hit a two-run shot for her second of the game, and Dodge also hit a two-run blast for her third home run of the game. The Salukis would get a run in the top of the fifth, but the Panthers dominated on their way to a 17-5 victory. The Panthers amassed eight home runs in the game, and Dodge had three of them along with a triple and eight RBIs. 

Runs were not quite as easy to come by in the second game. In the bottom of the first, Madison Parks got the Panthers on the board with a home run. Southern Illinois could do nothing against Samantha Heyer, and the Panthers kept adding just enough runs. In the third, Pupillo homered and Taylor Hogan drove in a run. Up 3-0, the Panthers added two more runs in the fifth inning on a McElrath home run. The Salukis stayed silent the whole game, and the icing was put on the cake when Dodge hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. The Panthers took the second game 7-0. Heyer pitched a complete game shutout with 14 strikeouts, and only gave up one hit and a walk. 

The Panthers had already won the series going into Saturday, but they were looking for the sweep. Heyer was pitching again, so things were looking good for the Panthers. In the bottom of the first, the Panthers jumped out to a 5-0 lead on four hits, one of them being a two-run home run by Hogan. Two more runs were added in each of the second and third innings, and the Panthers had a convincing 9-0 lead. The Salukis finally scored on a home run in the fourth to cut the lead to 9-2. In the top of the fifth, with the game already well in hand, the UNI bats went crazy. There were nine runs scored on seven hits, with home runs from Brooke Snider and Lamprecht. The Panthers completed the sweep with an 18-2 victory.

The Panthers improved to a 26-11 record and 15-1 conference record. They sit alone at the top of the conference standings, a couple of games up on the next closest opponent. The Panthers will get back out on the diamond on Tuesday, April 18, when they play a single game against Drake on the road.