EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Hannah Kelley’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of the seventh lifted the Northern Iowa softball team into the Missouri Valley Conference’s tournament championship game Friday.
Kelley’s bloop to left-center fell in front of Missouri State’s centerfielder allowing Sammey Bunch to scamper home with the game-winning run in a 3-2 victory at the University of Evansville’s softball complex.
The Panthers (31-17) will face Southern Illinois at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Bears used a UNI error to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the first before Bunch singled and scored in the bottom of the first. The Panthers tied the game in the fourth when Taylor Hogan scored on a Sammy Moss single.
In the seventh, with one out, Bunch launched a deep shot to right center that glanced off a Bear outfielder’s glove. The play was ruled a three-base error. Kelley’s game-winner came with two outs.
MVC Pitcher of the Year Kailyn Packard dominated after giving up the two runs in the first. She allowed four hits and a walk while striking out nine.
UNI 3, Missouri State 2
Mo. State 200 000 0 — 2 4 2
No. Iowa 100 100 1 — 3 9 1
Steffany Dickerson, Maidson Hunsaker and Darian Frost. Kailyn Packard and Emmy Wells. WP – Packard (21-5). LP – Hunsaker (10-5). 2B – MSU: Plummer, Weakley. UNI: Opiola, Moss, Snider.