CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa had a chance to maintain a share of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference Sunday at Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex.
However, the Panthers couldn’t overcome their own mistakes as the dropped a 7-6 game to Southern Illinois and saw their five-game winning streak end.
“Errors are hard to overcome, but I liked the way we battled through them today,” UNI head coach Ryan Jacobs said. “We spotted them three runs in the first and battled back and took the lead.”
UNI (20-14 overall, 8-4 MVC) saw its day get off to a rough start when a two-out error allowed the Salukis to score three times.
UNI scored twice in the bottom of the first to cut its deficit to one on RBIs by Macey Wolfe and Kennedy Bailey. Then, in the bottom of the second, Bailey Lange blasted her fifth home run of the season to tie it at 3-all.
Southern regained the lead in the third when Marri Anne Patterson hit a two-run shot to right-center off UNI reliever Jaci Spencer. That lead was short-lived as Lange connected for a three-run shot to make it 6-5.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to contribute defensively, so I had to make sure I was there offensively for my team,” said Lange, who started the game in the pitching circle.
Lange finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs, while Brittney Roby was 3-for-4, and Wolfe was 2-for-4 for the Panthers.
“After a rough first inning where it wasn’t really her fault, we would’ve got out of it if we make a play, ... but she came back with her bat and got everything back and more,” Jacobs added.
“You’ve got to make plays and they got us today,” Jacobs said. “I was happy with the way our team fought. That is a great team in here this weekend. To take two out of three from them put us in a great spot.”
The Panthers nearly took the lead in the sixth when Wolfe led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Spencer. She reached third on a wild pitch, but with two outs, Sammey Bunch hit a rocket to first base that deflected off the glove of SIU’s first baseman.
Instead of bouncing into the outfield and driving home Wolfe for a 7-6 lead, the ball went straight to the second baseman, who threw out Bunch easily.
“That is the way the game goes,” Jacobs said. “I told the girls afterward it is the way we are playing right now is what we need to focus on. We are doing a good job of doing the little things and playing hard and staying focused on the right things.”
Southern Ill. 7, UNI 6
Southern Illinois 302 100 1 — 7 6 1
Northern Iowa 213 000 0 — 6 11 3
Briana Jones and Katelyn Massa. Bailey Lange, Jaci Spencer (1) and Anna Varriano. 2B—Brandendberg (SIU), Jones (SIU). HR—Patterson (SIU), Lange 2 (UNI). WP—Jones (10-9). LP—Spencer (8-5).