Olson's Hot Bat Not Enough in Redbird Loss to UNI
April 26, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - Abby Olson went 4-for-4 with a solo home run and a double, but a three-run first inning by UNI led the Panthers (32-20, 13-10 MVC) to a 5-4 victory over the Illinois State softball team (22-23, 10-10 MVC) in Missouri Valley Conference action Sunday afternoon at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium. The game was dubbed "Senior Day," as the Illinois State softball team honored its five seniors (Jessie Buker, Casey Gorrell, Katie Mathis, Amber Smith and Kaprice Williams).
Olson finished the game a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, while she scored two runs and had one RBI. The Redbirds also picked up hits in the game from Niki Stansell (1-for-3), Casey Gorrell (1-for-3), Amber Smith (1-for-4, 2 RBI), Michelle Henderson (1-for-3) and Beth Current (1-for-3).
Northern Iowa's Jen Larsen (18-11) picked up her 18th win of the season after she pitched the Panthers to a 5-3 lead through 3 2/3 innings in the circle.
Smith (8-12) suffered her eighth loss of the season and her second in two days after she gave up five earned runs in a complete-game effort.
Just as was the case in both of Saturday's games, Northern Iowa used the wind to its advantage to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After the Panthers put two runners on base via a walk and a single, Morgan Paulson took a Smith offering, and with the wind blowing hard across the outfield from right to left field, Paulson belted a three-run home run.
UNI added to its lead in the top of the third. A leadoff single by Megan Machovec was followed by a double down the right field line by Mackenzie Daigh. With runners at second and third, a ground ball back to Stansell at shortstop was misplayed, which allowed Machovec to score from third base. UNI picked up one more run in the inning to take a 5-0 lead.
Illinois State got three of those five runs back in the bottom of the third inning. The wind, which had played tricks with Smith's pitching effort throughout the early part of the game, came to the right-hander's aid when she was in the batter's box. Smith belted her own two-run home run to give ISU its first runs of the game. Two batters later, a deep fly ball off the bat of Buker was misplayed by the UNI right fielder, as Olson came around to score the Redbirds' third run of the inning.
The Redbirds' best shot at tying the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs. Current nearly tied the game for Illinois State with a line drive down the left field line, but her hit landed about a foot foul.
Olson's fourth hit of the game put the Redbirds just one run shy of tying the contest after she belted a leadoff home run deep over the center field fence in the bottom of the seventh inning. Olson's solo shot was her team-leading 10th of the season.
Illinois State will stay in Missouri Valley Conference action Monday when it closes out the home portion of its regular-season schedule with a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Southern Illinois at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium.
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