The University of Northern Iowa softball team fell in the semifinals of the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to the Southern Illinois Salukis, 1-0.
After defeating the Salukis twice in the regular season play; sophomore pitcher Jamie Fisher took the circle to start the game looking to improve on her 20-3 season mark.
Fisher limited the Salukis to three hits and one run in pitching her 23rd complete game of the season. The only run she allowed came on a leadoff homer in the fifth inning by the Salukis' Allie VandeBoncouer.
Fisher (20-4 overall) did become the Panthers' all-time strikeout leader in the game. Fisher took over the Panthers' all-time strikeout lead in the fourth inning. Fisher has fanned 418 opponents in her first two years at UNI. Malinda McClintock set the previous career mark of 415 from 2000-2004.
At the plate the Panthers struggled to collect hits off Saluki pitcher Brittney Lang. Unable to find a base runner in the first two innings, freshmen Julia Hunter was the first to reach base in the third inning after drawing a walk. The Panthers tallied a pair of hits in the game coming from seniors Mackenzie Daigh in the third and Whitney Plein in the fifth.
Junior catcher Samantha Reimer drew a walk in the bottom of the seventh giving the Panthers hope before the Saluki defense got the next three Panther batters out to end the threat and the game.
UNI (38-16 overall) still holds a chance of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection. The 2012 NCAA Tournament selection show will take place Sunday at 9 p.m. (CT) on ESPNU.
NOTES: Whitney Plein and Mackenzie Daigh were named to the 2012 MVC All-Tournament Team ... the Panthers set a single-season records for slugging percentage (.440), on-base percentage (.367), walks (161) and MVC regular season wins (21) ... opponents batted only .179 against Fisher in 2012 as she set a UNI single-season record of lowest batting average by the opposition.