The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

UNI kicks off conference play with 2-1 record

The dugout cheers on their teammates as they enter conference play this season.

The Northern Iowa softball team started their conference play during a three-game slate in Nashville, Tenn. against the Belmont Bruins. The Panthers won their first two games on Friday, Mar. 15 and Saturday, Mar. 16, before losing the final game the following day. 

The Panthers were able to get their first conference victory of the season in exciting fashion as they outlasted the Bruins 3-1 in a game that was decided in the 10th inning. Samantha Heyer pitched a career-high 10 innings in the Panthers’ victory, while UNI added an explosive three-run inning in the top of the 10th to secure the win. 

It was the longest game the Panthers have had to play all year, marking their first game in extra innings. It was also their most drawn-out game since the 2018 season. 

Throughout the first nine innings it was a pitching battle between the two teams until UNI got on the scoreboard first. In the top of the 10th inning the lead off hitter struck out when UNI’s Alexis Pupillo and Madison Parks were walked. Panther pinch hitter Savanna Jemilo was the third consecutive batter to reach base via walk, which resulted in the bases loaded. 

Kate Lappe continued the trend of getting walked and gave UNI the opening run of the game. Parks scored on the next at bat courtesy of a passed ball from the pitcher. Taylor Hogan then laid down a sacrifice bunt to bring Jemilo home and give the Panthers a 3-0 lead. 

In the bottom of the 10th, Belmont loaded the bases after two singles and a walk. Heyer continued to battle on the mound and only gave up one run before ending the night with a strikeout on her 165th pitch to give the Panthers a 3-1 victory. 

In the second game UNI handled their business as they defeated Belmont 8-4. Pupillo had a team high three RBI’s while Parks added two of her own to help lead the Panthers to victory. 

UNI took a commanding 8-1 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning when Belmont tried to muster up a comeback. After a homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning the Bruins trailed 8-3. Belmont added in another run from a sacrifice fly out to cut the Panther lead to four. 

Anna Wischnowski stayed in the game and forced back-to-back fly outs to retire the inning and give UNI the 8-4 victory.

The victory was Wischnowski’s fourth complete game of the season, and notched her seventh win of the year. 

The final contest of the three-game slate went in Belmont’s favor as they beat UNI 4-0. The Bruins amped up their defense for this final matchup as they held the Panthers to just one hit throughout the game. 

The defeat marked UNI’s fourth loss in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play in the last three seasons. The Panthers now sit at 13-10 on the season and 2-1 in conference play. 

UNI’s next game will be against Illinois on Tuesday, Mar. 26 in Champaign, Ill. Opening pitch is set for 4 p.m. and will be broadcasted via the Big Ten + Network.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Northern Iowan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *