In a battle atop the Missouri Valley Conference, the University of Northern Iowa softball team split a pair of games with the Redbirds of Illinois State this afternoon at Robinson Dresser Sports Complex in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
UNI (38-15, 21-4 MVC) dropped game one in a 1-0 decision decided by a Redbird solo home run in the top of the sixth. But the Panthers bounced back in game two and scored a 3-0 shutout victory.
Sophomore Jamie Fisher took the circle to start game one just one win shy of tying the UNI school record for wins in a single season. Fisher (20-3) was nearly untouchable keeping the Redbird bats quiet throughout the matchup. Fisher tossed a complete allowing only three hits; the most crucial hit resulting in a home run coming in the 6th inning giving the Redbirds a 1-0 advantage. The home run was also the first opponent Fisher had allowed past second base in 20 consecutive innings. Fisher finished the game with eight strikeouts leaving her just one shy of tying a career record for strikeouts at UNI. Fisher sits at 414 nearing the previous record of 415 set by Malinda McClintock through the 2000-02; 04 seasons.
At the plate the Panthers struggled to collect hits off Illinois State pitcher Jordan Birch. Connecting for just two hits throughout the contest; the Panthers were led by senior third basemen Whitney Plein and junior catcher Samantha Reimer each going 1-for-3 at the plate. The Panthers were unable to put together a scoring inning throughout the contest eventually falling 1-0 to the Redbirds.
In game two of the doubleheader the Panthers came out swinging collecting eight hits and three runs going on to defeat the Redbirds, 3-0. Senior Jaye Hutcheson took the circle in game two improving her record to 15-10 on the season. Hutcheson tossed a complete game aloowing three hits, no runs, and struck out 11.
Senior Mackenzie Daigh got the bats going sending a leadoff double to left field finding a narrow gap in the defense. Gina Brown knocked in Daigh with a shot to the right-centerfield gap. Brown was called out at second attempting to turn the single into a double ending the top of the first.
Daigh singled again in the fifth before Laura Turner wrapped up the scoring connecting for her seventh home run on the season giving the Panthers a 3-0 advantage over the Redbirds. The Panther defense held strong keeping the Redbirds off the board the rest of the way for a 3-0 victory.
The Panthers will wrap up the three-game series Sunday at Noon at Robinson Dresser Field. Sunday's contest will be Senior Day for the Panthers; eight seniors will be recognized following the game and will be joined by UNI academic advisor Stacia Grieve, who will present the group with their diplomas.