The University of Northern Iowa women’s softball team capped off a two-game series sweeping the Bluejays of Creighton University this weekend.
UNI (30-10) (14-0) was originally scheduled for a pair of games on Saturday afternoon, however due to lightning the doubleheader was postponed and moved to Sunday afternoon eliminating game three of the series.
In game one of the pair UNI came out swinging the bats in the first inning finding gaps in the Creighton defense early. The Panthers were quick to take a 2-0 lead after collecting runs from seniors Mackenzie Daigh and Hannah Borschel, both resulting from a fielding error that came off the bat of Allison Galvin. Connecting for just four hits throughout the game, runs were not easy to come by for the Panthers.
In the circle sophomore Jamie Fisher took the rubber for the Panthers. Fisher (15-1) had a tough start to the game giving up two hits and three walks in the first inning while allowing two runs to cross the plate before striking out two Bluejays for the final outs of the inning. Creighton, collecting runs in the third and sixth innings, found themselves leading 4-2 as they entered the top of the seventh.
Stepping into the box senior Whitney Plein got the Panthers started with one out as she reached base on a throwing error from the third basemen. Olivia Aten’s pinch hit at-bat came up short for the Panthers resulting in a strikeout leaving UNI down two runs with only one out left.
Freshmen Julia Hunter kept the inning alive reaching base on an error by the Bluejays pitcher. With the Panthers turning the lineup over and the tying run on first, senior Mackenzie Daigh connected for a base hit to the right side allowing Plein to score along with Hunter following a throwing error from the right fielder. Daigh advanced to third on the throwing error leaving senior Laura Turner able to step into the box where she connected for a single to the left side sending Daigh across the plate which finished up the scoring for the Panthers giving them the 5-4 advantage.
Entering the bottom of the seventh with a 5-4 lead Fisher returned to the circle looking to wrap up the game. Fisher struck out her first batter, allowed a single from the second, and took care of the final two outs herself picking up her 15th win on the season. Fisher tossed a complete game, allowing seven hits, three earned runs and struck out 14 batters in the process.
In game two of Sunday’s action the Panthers carried their momentum over to the plate where they had no troubles putting runs together.
Seniors Mackenzie Daigh and Hannah Borschel got the Panthers on the board in the first inning taking a 2-0 lead. Following up in the second with another pair from Daigh again and senior Laura Turner the Panthers were out to a 4-0 lead.
The bats never seemed to slow down as the Panthers continued to score on the Creighton defense. Following the top of the 5th the Panthers had jumped out to a 15-2 lead off 17 hits, the most runs and hits the Panthers have collected in a single game this season. The Panthers were led by seniors Whitney Plein and Allison Galvin each going 3-for-4 at the plate with a trio of RBI. Whitney Plein tacked on a pair of home runs along with senior Hannah Borschel who also added a homer of her own. Plein now leads the Panthers with eight home runs on the season.
In the circle senior Jaye Hutcheson went to work hoping to pick up her 12th win on the season. Hutcheson, coming off a close game with Missouri on Wednesday came out firing. After walking her first batter Jaye settled in retiring the side. Not allowing runs until the third inning which came off a pair of home runs Hutcheson kept the Creighton bats quiet.
Hutcheson tossed a complete game allowing four hits, three runs, and struck out seven in the process. With the win Hutcheson improves to 12-7 on the season while the Panthers improve to 30-10 on the season and 14-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
UNI will travel to Bradley on Wednesday for an MVC doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. in Peoria, Ill. Following Wednesday's two-game set, the Panthers will host Missouri State in a three-game series Saturday and Sunday in Cedar Falls.