Payne, Kotzo and Stevens Lead PNW Softball To Sweep of Northwood

Hammond, Ind. – Huge performances by senior Kyleigh Payne (Bourbonnais, Ill./Kankakee CC/Bishop McNamara) and juniors Taylor Kotzo (Munster, Ind./Munster) and Mia Stevens (Wheatfield, Ind./South Suburban CC/Kankakee Valley) helped the Purdue Northwest softball team sweep a pair of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) games from Northwood University (Mich.) Sunday afternoon at Fifth Third Bank Field at Dowling Park in Hammond, Ind.  The Pride took the opener, 9-4, and then led from start to finish in a 9-1 victory over six innings in the late game.


Payne combined to go 4-for-5 with two doubles, a homer, six runs scored and three RBI over both games.  Kotzo was impressive as well going 4-for-8 with two doubles, a grand slam, three runs scored and six RBI.  Stevens earned both victories (6-2) as a reliever in the circle for PNW Sunday.


The Timberwolves scored a pair of runs in the top of the second inning off a RBI double and a RBI single.  Northwood pushed its lead to 3-0 after plating a run on a wild pitch in the top of the fourth, but Purdue Northwest rallied back to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning off a RBI single up the middle by senior Holly Pagan (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) and a two-run double to right field by junior Kalyn Learnard (Fairmount, Ill./Kankakee CC/Catlin).


A solo homer by the Timberwolves in the top of the fifth gave them back the lead, 4-3.  However, Kotzo tied the game at 4-4 with a RBI double in the bottom of the fifth and scored the go-ahead run later in the frame on a fielding error by NU.  Kotzo’s grand slam to centerfield in the bottom of the sixth put the exclamation point on the game one victory.


Freshman Courtney Blackwell (Whiting, Ind./Whiting) started the first game for PNW and pitched 3.1 innings allowing six hits, three runs (all earned) and three walks with a pair of strikeouts.  Stevens threw the final 3.2 innings and gave up two hits and a run (earned) en route to the victory.


Payne hit a RBI double and sophomore Taylor Mendenhall (Brownsburg, Ind./St. Joseph’s College/Brownsburg) added a RBI single in the bottom of the first inning of game two to put the Pride up early, 2-0.  Payne smashed a two-run homer to left field in the third inning to push the advantage to 4-0.  The Timberwolves scored a run on RBI double in the top of the fourth inning, but PNW took control from there scoring five unanswered runs to pull away.  Senior Samme Miller (North Salem, Ind./St. Joseph’s College/Tri-West) recorded three RBI over the final three innings of game two, including a pair on a single to centerfield in the bottom of the fourth.


Purdue Northwest (14-9 overall/4-2 GLIAC) heads to Tiffin, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 27, to play a GLIAC doubleheader against Tiffin University.  The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. CT start at the Paradiso Softball Field in Tiffin.