Homers Aplenty As Purdue Northwest Softball Splits Two More Games

Clermont, Fla. – Senior Kyleigh Payne (Bourbonnais, Ill./Kankakee CC/Bishop McNamara), junior Kalyn Learnard (Fairmount, Ill./Catlin), junior Tessa Steffens (Litchfield, Ill./Litchfield) and sophomore Emma Hendricks (Henryville, Ill./Henryville) all recorded home runs to help lead the Purdue Northwest softball team to a split in its two games Thursday afternoon at the PFX Spring Games at Hancock Park in Clermont, Fla.  PNW had a big rally to tie the game at 5-5 late in its opener against West Chester (Pa.), but ended up losing the game, 6-5.  However, the Pride came out strong in the late game against Bridgeport (Ct.) to pick up the 13-1 victory in just six innings.


The Golden Rams jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in Thursday’s first game scoring a pair of runs in the top of the second inning off a fielder’s choice and an infield groundout with the bases loaded and another three in the top of the third off a two-run homer and a RBI single.  In the bottom of the fourth inning, PNW stormed back scoring four to draw within a run.  Payne led off  the frame with a towering homer to left centerfield, while Learnard smashed another one with two outs over the wall in left field to add two more runs.


Junior Taylor Kotzo (Munster, Ind./Munster) hit a RBI double to centerfield in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game, 5-5.  Unfortunately for Purdue Northwest, West Chester scored another run on a RBI single to right field which proved to be the game-winning hit.  PNW had its chances leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth.


Senior Holly Pagan (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) got the start for the Pride in Thursday’s opener pitching 2.2 innings and allowing six hits, five runs (all earned) and four walks with a strikeout.  Junior Mia Stevens (Wheatfield, Ind./Kankakee Valley) recorded the loss (3-1) in relief throwing the final 4.1 innings and giving up four hits, one run (earned) and a walk with four strikeouts.


Steffens crushed a three-run homer to left field in the top of the second inning of Thursday’s late game to give PNW an early 3-0 lead against Bridgeport.  The Purple Knights got a run in the bottom of the second inning off a RBI double, but a fielding error by Bridgeport in the top of the third extended the Pride’s lead to 4-1.


Payne hit a towering two-run shot down the left field line in the top of the fifth to put Purdue Northwest up, 6-1.  PNW pulled away for good in the top of the sixth scoring seven runs in the frame with the big highlight, a grand slam to centerfield by Hendricks.  It was not only her first career grand slam, but also the first hit of her collegiate career.


Freshman Samantha Burgard (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake South) logged her first collegiate victory (1-1) in the circle for the Pride in Thursday’s second game.  She threw all six innings and allowed six hits, one run (earned) and a walk with five strikeouts.


Purdue Northwest (8-7 overall) wraps up play at the PFX Spring Games on Saturday, March 17, with a pair of morning games.  The Pride take on Lock Haven (Pa.) at 8 a.m. CT and then close out the trip against Bloomsburg (Pa.) at 10:30 a.m. CT at Hancock Park.