CEDAR FALLS — If Ryan Jacobs could put his finger on the cause, he’d already have a solution.
Unfortunately, the University of Northern Iowa softball coach can’t figure out what is ailing his team.
For the second straight game, UNI fell behind early Sunday and never mounted a challenge as the Panthers dropped a 2-0 decision to Loyola in a Missouri Valley Conference game inside the UNI-Dome.
The loss came less than 24 hours after UNI (21-18 overall, 6-7 MVC) beat the Ramblers (19-18, 5-8) 8-0 in the opener of the series, then fell behind in the first inning of game two and got shut out, 5-0.
“Two games we didn’t compete very well, they scored in the first inning,” Jacobs said. “I don’t know if we feel like we can’t come back from that situation, because we have done it before, but we really haven’t had the same fire when that happens.”
Loyola scored the only runs of the game in its first at-bat with a walk, two bouncing singles that hopped over Panther infielders and a hard-hit double to left-center.
Freshman Emma Olejniczak replaced Brooke Craig in the pitching circle for UNI and surrendered just three hits the rest of the way.
“Hats off to Emma Olejniczak today, because she came in after that inning and kept them scoreless and kept us in position where we didn’t have to do a whole lot of work offensively,” Jacobs said.
As it turned out, UNI couldn’t get any work done offensively. The Panthers collected just three hits off Kiley Jones a day after chasing her from the circle in that 8-0 Saturday win with eight hits and five runs.
UNI’s first hit didn’t come until the fourth when Ashley Chesser’s deep fly to right was nearly hauled in by Jordyn Cordell, but it bounced in and out of her glove as she hit the fence. Chesser was eventually stranded at third, the only Panther to reach third safely in the game.
Jones did not strike out anyone and walked two in her seven-inning shutout.
Loyola 2, UNI 0
Loyola 200 000 0 — 2 6 0
UNI 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Kiley Jones and Katie Kasubke. Brooke Craig, Emma Olejniczak (2) and Ashley Chesser. WP — Jones (14-7). LP — Craig (11-7). 2B — Wilson (Loy), McGee (Loy), Chesser (UNI).