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CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois shut down Northern Iowa’s softball team Sunday, prevailing 8-0 in the rubber game of the regular season’s final weekend series.

The loss places UNI (26-25, 11-14 Missouri Valley) as the No. 6 seed for the MVC Tournament. The Panthers will meet seventh-seeded Illinois State 1:30 p.m. Thursday, with the winner facing No. 3 seed Southern Illinois (29-21, 12-12) 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Regular season champion and host Drake has secured the tournament’s No. 1 seed. The MVC Tournament is scheduled to run from Thursday to Saturday in Des Moines.

During Sunday’s crucial contest for seeding, Southern Illinois ace Brianna Jones improved to 24-7 on the season as she scattered four hits over five innings of a mercy-rule victory.

UNI starter Emma Olejniczak lasted just three innings.

A bases-loaded walk and sacrifice fly ended her day in the third.

Kyle Decker then opened the game up for the Salukis with a three-run homer off relief pitcher Brooke Craig.

The Southern Illinois offense stayed hot in the fourth inning with three more runs crossing the plate.

While UNI struck out just once in this game, Adara Opiola produced the Panthers’ only extra-base hit with a double in the fourth inning.

Southern Illinois 8, UNI 0

Northern Iowa 000 00 — 0 4 0

Southern Ill. 005 3x — 8 9 0

Emma Olejniczak, Brook Craig (3) and Ashley Chesser. Brianna Jones and Katelyn Massa. WP — Jones (24-7). LP — Olejniczak (4-7). 2B — Adara Opiola (UNI), Maddy Vermejan, Susie Baranski (SIU). HR — Kyle Decker (SIU).

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