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SIU softball Softball a hit in sweep of Panthers

  • SIU's Maddy Vermejan led the way for the Salukis at the plate Sunday against UNI as she went 3-for-4.

    SIU's Maddy Vermejan led the way for the Salukis at the plate Sunday against UNI as she went 3-for-4.
    Will Becque/SIUSalukis.com

 
BY MARV COURSON
Contributing Writer
updated: 5/3/2019 11:19 AM

It was a lovely weekend for football in Cedar Falls last weekend. Temperatures hovered in the upper 30s. So, if you went to Robertson Dresser Softball Field to see the UNI Panthers take on the visiting SIU Salukis, it would have been kind of lonely -- and cold.

The conditions were, in fact, so horrendous that UNI sports had to go to their (drum roll) football field and line it out for softball. Fortunately, Northern Iowa's football field is one of three in the MVC that is covered by a dome.

The softball field was lined out in a cockeyed manner in relation to the unremovable football lines, so it was rather confusing for base runners and fans alike. But not as confused as the UNI pitchers, who kept grooving the softball to SIU's voracious hitters.

The Dawgs garnered 32 hits in winning three straight from the Panthers, thus solidifying SIU's hold on the second seed in the upcoming MVC Tournament.

"Our pitching was exceptional this weekend," said SIU coach Kerri Blaylock. "But our hitting was phenomenal."

So which is better, "exceptional" or "phenomenal?" Let's just say it was "all good" and call the whole thing off. Certainly the UNI pitchers and hitters must have come to that conclusion after dropping their first series loss to SIU in 12 years.

"The first thing I thought of is how we haven't won a series here in a long while," said Blaylock.

However, even with their hitting and pitching superiority, two of the three Saluki wins were gritty, extra-inning affairs. The first game of last Saturday's double dip was won by SIU at 6-1 with the Dawgs jumping off to a 3-0 second inning lead and coasting -- with pitcher Brianna Jones (20-7 record) going the distance. However, the next two games were sloggers. In the second game of the Saturday double header, SIU was ahead 2-0 by the second inning, but the Cats would not go away.

UNI came back with two of their own in the bottom of that second to tie tie it at 2-2. And there the score stayed, as both teams loaded the bases in the latter innings yet couldn't get runners in.

Then came the top of the 12th. That's when SIU batters (10 total hits) broke through and plated two to make it 4-2. Brianna Jones again finished the Panthers off in the bottom of the 12th after taking over for Claire Miller.

The get-away game last Sunday was another grind, as again the Dawgs came through in extra innings to nail their 31st win (7-5 win) of the season (31-11 overall record) and a 15-5 MVC record (second place in the Valley).

The Dawgs are on the bubble RPI-wise (47 RPI) for an at-Large bid and so may have to win the upcoming Valley gig (May 8) to get to the NCAA Dance. But winning this weekend's three-game series with Bradley may help with their at-large resume'.