Panthers extend win streak to eight




Alexis Pupillo had great games this weekend, hitting the winning home run on Saturday.

The UNI softball team traveled to Normal, Ill. last weekend for a three game series versus the Illinois State Redbirds. The Panthers entered the weekend with a six-game win streak and looked to keep that streak alive.

The series began with a Friday night matchup at the Marian Kneer Softball Stadium. After a scoreless first inning, Illinois State got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run. UNI responded with an Alexis Pupillo double in the top of third, scoring two runs for the Panthers.

A scoreless fourth inning led to a Brooke Snider homer in the top of the fifth to give UNI a 3-1 lead. Illinois State responded in the same inning with a two-run double of their own to tie the game. A unique sixth inning featured a Pupillo walk, a Pupillo stolen base and finally a wild pitch to bring her home and give UNI the lead back. 

The Panthers solidified their lead with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh off the bat of Daryn Lamprecht to give UNI a 6-3 lead. After three quick outs in the bottom of the seventh, UNI won the game. Both Snider and Lamprecht hit their eighth home runs of the season in this game. Samantha Heyer pitched well with six strikeouts in the same number of innings.

On Saturday, the Panthers took their time before getting on the scoreboard. Illinois State put up one run in the first off a single to right field. Three scoreless innings followed, setting up a 1-0 game at the top of the fifth inning, where UNI finally got in their groove. First, Mya Dodge was driven home off a Taylor Hogan double to put the Panthers on the scoreboard. A Sammy Moss sacrifice fly allowed McKenna Kuper to get home and give UNI its first lead of the game at 2-1.

Illinois State responded in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run double to regain the lead at 3-2. UNI tied the game once again in the top of the sixth with a Dodge sacrifice fly, allowing Kylee Sanders to run home. With no runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers entered a tie game in the final inning.

With two outs and a runner on first, Pupillo hit her 14th home run of the season to give UNI a 5-3 lead. The Panthers forced three quick ground outs to secure their eighth straight win of the season.

UNI played a third game on Sunday. However, the results were not available at the time of writing.

Eight straight wins is a season high for the Panthers and the two wins this weekend boosted their season record to 29-11 with an 18-1 conference record, which puts them in first place with nine games remaining. UNI currently leads the Missouri Valley Conference in hits, runs, home runs and RBIs on the season. Pupillo currently leads the MVC in batting average, hits and home runs. She also sits second in runs, only trailing her teammate Sanders.

The Panthers next matchup will be Tuesday, April 25 at 5 p.m. when they will face in-state rival Drake in Cedar Falls. UNI will stay at home next weekend as well as they meet up with Valparaiso on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.