CEDAR FALLS — The kid from Frankenstein, Mo., was downright frightful for Evansville’s softball team Sunday.
Northern Iowa junior Sammey Bunch went 6-for-7 at the plate with a pair of three-run home runs to spark the Panthers to an 11-6, 8-0 Missouri Valley Conference sweep at Robinson-Dresser Complex.
Bunch leads the conference in home runs (10), total runs (37) and total bases (75).
“I love hitting the ball,” said Bunch. “Especially at home. I take a lot of pride in my hitting and I love being able to help my team. We knew we would have to hit the ball well today, because they are a good hitting team, too.”
Bunch flexed her muscle early in the opener, as she stroked her first three-run shot over the left center field fence to break a 2-2 tie.
The Aces came back in the top of the third and took the lead on a grand slam by Bailee Bostic.
UNI (15-13, 6-2) called on lefthander Erica Oler to shut down the Evansville attack out of the bullpen, and Oler delivered four shutout innings without allowing a runner to advance past second base.
“Hats off to Erica because she did a good job keeping us in the game there,” said Panther head coach Ryan Jacobs.
“I just went out and tried to relax and pitch with confidence,” said Oler. “I think I gave them a different look throwing lefthanded, and that may have surprised them. I just settled down and did my job and the defense played great, and the offense began to hit again.”
A five-run fifth turned the game in UNI’s favor. Olivia Brooks and Adara Opiola had RBI singles, then Courtney Krodinger provided the big blow with a three-run homer.
Game two featured more offense and shutdown pitching from junior Jaclyn Spencer. The former Waterloo West all-stater allowed just three hits in five scoreless innings.
“I just play off Ashley (catcher Chesser) because she calls such a great game behind the plate,” Spencer said. “She is always on top of her game calling.”
Spencer got into the offensive swing, as well, belting a solo homer in the fifth.
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That was part of a 12-hit attack that included Bunch’s second three-run homer along with her RBI single.
“We had a couple good days of practice this week and I felt good about where we were at,” said Jacobs.
“I think we are getting close to knowing what we can expect from pitching and they are still getting better. We know we can go to someone and they will be ready to go.
“I really do feel good about where we are at and hopefully this weekend kind of rejuvenates us for a very tough April.”
UNI 11-8, Evansville 6-0
Evansville 204 000 0 — 6 8 1
N. Iowa 230 051 x — 11 11 0
Izzy Vetter, Jaime Nurrenbern (6) and Bailee Bostic. Emma Olejniczak, Erica Oler (4) and Ashley Chesser. WP—Oler (2-4), LP—Vetter (6-5). HR—Renneisen (EU), Bostic (EU), Sammey Bunch (UNI), Courtney Krodinger (UNI), Ally Johnson (UNI). 2B—Olivia Brooks (UNI), Jenny Kohl (UNI), Adara Opiola (UNI).
Evansville 000 00 — 0 3 1
Northern Iowa 103 22 — 8 12 0
Emily Lockhart, Ashleigh Downing (5) and Bostic. Jaclyn Spencer and Chesser. WP—Spencer (2-1), LP—Lockhart (5-9). HR—Bunch (UNI), Spencer (UNI).