HAMMOND, Ind. – The Purdue University Northwest softball team used some late-game dramatics to capture Tuesday’s opener before dropping the nightcap in a league split with visiting St. Ambrose (Iowa).
The Pride (20-17-1, 10-6 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference) defeated the Fighting Bees (27-9, 10-4) 4-1 in Game 1 behind Taylor Kotzo’s (Munster, Ind./Munster) walk-off homer in the seventh; then fell to SAU 3-2 in Game 2 in a contest that ended with a tag-out at the plate.
PNW returns to action Wednesday when the Pride host league foe Indiana South Bend (12-14, 7-9) in a twin bill at Fifth Third Bank Field at Dowling Park starting at 3 p.m. CT.
GAME 1: PNW 4, SAU 1
Taylor Kotzo’s two-out, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning broke a 1-all tie and gave Tuesday’s opening game to the Pride.
With runners on second and third base, Kotzo drove a 3-1 pitch over the left center wall to hand St. Ambrose starter Ashley Yattoni (12-4) just her fourth loss of the year. The home run was the fourth of the season for the sophomore.
SAU struck first in the top of the first inning, scoring on a Layne Thresh RBI single to give the Fighting Bees an early 1-0 lead. That’s how the score would stand for the next five innings until the Pride found a spark in the bottom of the sixth, opened by a lead-off single from Kotzo.
Kyleigh Payne’s (Boubonnais, Ill./Bishop McNamara) bunt single moved her to second and Holly Pagan (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) added a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position with one out. That set up sophomore Tessa Steffens (Litchfield, Ill./Litchfield), who drove a sacrifice fly to right field to plate the tying run.
PNW starter Pagan shut out the Bees in the top of the seventh to set up Kotzo’s big hit, as junior Alex Morales (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) led off the frame with a single and later advanced to third after Lauren Maynard got on via a Bees’ error.
Pagan (6-5) picked up the win in the circle with her one-run gem, scattering five hits, striking out six and allowing just one earned run.
Kotzo finished 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored and Steffens was 2-for-2 with an RBI to lead PNW.
GAME 2: SAU 3, PNW 2
The Pride made a last-chance stab at tying the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, but a SAU errant throw transformed into a game-saving tag at the plate to seal the win for the visitors.
With two outs and runners on first and second, PNW junior Alex Morales belted a single to left field to score Holly Pagan from second, but an errant throw resulted in another runner trying to score. SAU was able to recover with a throw to the plate to make the final out and end the game in a wild finish.
PNW struck first in the game with a run in the second inning on an Allyson Leach (Demotte, Ind./North Newton) RBI groundout to score Tessa Steffens to make it 1-0 Pride. But the Bees would finally respond with three runs in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead heading into the final inning.
Morales finished 2-for-2 with an RBI for the Pride and Kyleigh Payne was 1-for-3 with a triple to lead PNW’s hitters, who were held to just six hits. PNW starter Caroline Brown (Minooka, Ill./Minooka) scattered five hits, struck out one and allowed two earned runs in seven innings pitched.