In an attempt to sweep the Northern Iowa Panthers (15-8, 3-2 MVC) in a three-game series, the Illinois State softball team (10-18, 2-1 MVC) dropped its last game, going 2-1 on the series.
“I do feel that our preseason schedule has really prepared them for competition in the Valley and I thought they were really ready to go see what they could do,” ISU head coach Melinda Fischer said.
Game one: ISU 4, UNI 3
In the first game against UNI, the Redbirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead and had a 3-1 advantage going into the seventh inning, but the Panthers were not giving up and forced an extra inning.
In the top of the second, ISU grabbed two runs. With two outs, Kolby Hoffman was on third when Kelsey Turczyn was on second and Bradley singled up the middle to plate the two Redbirds, 2-0.
In the fourth, Bradley stepped up again and hit a solo home run with two outs. This was her third homer of the season and gave ISU the 3-0 lead. UNI had doubles in the bottom of the inning and scored one, making it 3-1, ISU.
The Panthers managed to score twice in the seventh, with nobody on base and two outs. Caitlin Wnek tripled to deep center when two runners were on second and third, sending them home and tying the game at 3-3.
The eighth inning went scoreless and ISU took back the lead in the top of the ninth. Laura Canopy led off the Redbirds with a single, stole second and advanced to third when the throw deflected off of her into center field. Nichelle Harrison plated Canopy with a sacrifice fly to left, giving the ’Birds the 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth Regan Romshek retired the first two batters before surrendering a two-out single. Romshek threw a career-high of 9.0 innings in the contest, while striking out a season-high of eight.
“You have to stay in a ball game, through all the innings. They fought back and tied it up, but … I thought our kids put the stop sign up and found a way to get a run and ended up holding on to that lead to get the victory,” Fischer said.
Game two: ISU 9, UNI 4
The ’Birds matched a season-high performance with 12 hits in game two, and scored in every inning but one.
Canopy led off game two with an infield single and scored later on an error, making it 1-0. Canopy scored again in the third on a wild pitch and Harrison scampered home after a sacrifice fly from Stephanie Gallant.
UNI fought back to tie the game, 3-3. UNI had runners on first and second with nobody out, when Taylor Baxter left the inning on a 5-3 double play by Bradley. The ’Birds scored at least once every inning during the rest of the game.
Harrison sent home two in the fourth with a single, to bring the ’Birds back in the lead, 5-3. Bradley smashed her second homer of the day in the fifth, before Harrison got an RBI single in the sixth to make it 7-3. ISU scored twice more in the seventh with a RBI double from Bradley and RBI triple from Kara Repp which put the ’Birds up 9-3. Romshek relieved Baxter in the fifth to give up only a solo home run in the seventh and earn her first save of the season.
Game three: UNI 3, ISU 1
ISU was only able to score one run in the third game against UNI. Jordan de los Reyes hit her seventh home run of the season for ISU’s lone run.
Romshek was in the circle for the ’Birds .
The ’Birds will host Indiana State in a three-game series for their first home games of the season, March 29-30.