UNI sweeps Evansville in conference opener - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI sweeps Evansville in conference opener

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

The University of Northern Iowa softball team got their season off to a blazing start over the weekend, as they steam rolled through the Evansville Purple Aces in a three-game sweep.

Pitching proved to be the determining factor for the Panthers, as Sophomore Jamie Fisher and Senior Jaye Hutcheson combined to allow just one run over the three game stretch, and a total of just ten hits.

Game one on Saturday got off to a fast start in the bottom of the second inning, as two walks and a single left the bases loaded for Senior Shortstop Mackenzie Daigh, who proceeded to blast a grand slam over the right field fence to give the Panthers a 4-0 cushion early in the game.

Evansville responded in the top of the third inning, when Kayla Fortner sent a single down the left field line, scoring Victorio Dellorto on an unearned run, after she had reached on a fielding error at third base.

But UNI padded their lead in the third inning, thanks to a two-run single from Whitney Plein, which was followed by a fourth inning solo home run from Laura Turner.

Senior Courtney Dunker capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning, which was more than enough for the Panthers to finish off an 8-1 win over the Aces.

Plein led the Panthers at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI.

Fisher earned her eighth win of the season for UNI, going all seven innings, allowing just one run, which was unearned, on five hits, while striking out eight Evansville hitters.

In game two on Saturday, the Panthers had no problem picking up where they left off.

Sophomore Gina Brown got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning, with a two-run homer, scoring Turner from first base. The home run was Brown's third of the season.

The Purple Aces kept the Panther lead to just two runs until the bottom of the fourth, when Freshman Melissa Walls tripled to right field, scoring Plein and Allison Galvin. Haley Kriener immediately followed that with a triple of her own, scoring Walls from third.

Turner brought home Kriener on an RBI single before the inning was over, but the game wouldn't last much longer, as Plein used a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth to score Galvin and McKena Carlson to give UNI the 8-0 lead that they needed to finish the game, thanks to the mercy rule.

Hutcheson pitched lights out in her five innings, allowing no runs on only two hits, while recording four strikeouts.

In the series' rubber match on Sunday, UNI needed every ounce of pitching they could manage from Fisher to eke out a 1-0 victory.

The Panthers' lone run came in the third inning after a Julia Hunter walk, when Daigh showed her Senior leadership; again showing up in a big way with a two-out double into right field to bring home Hunter.

Thanks to Fisher's pitching and outstanding defense; that one run was enough to hold up for the final four innings, to give UNI the series sweep over Evansville.

In the final game, Fisher went the full seven innings, allowing no runs on three hits, and struck out five.

UNI's overall record this year now stands at 17-9 overall, and 3-0 in the conference. The Panthers currently sit in a tie for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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