ROSEMONT, Ill. – With two losses in Friday’s second round of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, the Purdue University Northwest softball team ended its season Friday in Rosemont, Ill.
The Pride (29-23-1) first fell to top-seeded St. Francis (Ill.) 5-0 in the winner’s bracket contest before falling in the ensuing elimination game to sixth-seeded Cardinal Stritch, 3-2, at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
PNW, in its first season as a unified program after the merger of the Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central athletic departments, finished the 2017 campaign with 29 wins under first-year head coach Ritchie Richardson and qualified into the eight-team CCAC postseason tournament as the fourth seed.
The Pride will lose eight seniors – Caroline Brown, Leslie Ford, Samantha Oppenhuis, Haley Loden, Allyson Leach, Emily Cole, Audrey Headley, and Hannah Lopez.
Remaining in the tournament are regular-season champion St. Francis, Olivet Nazarene, Stritch, St. Ambrose, and Judson. The semifinal and championship game(s) are set to be played Saturday.
GAME 2: STRITCH 3, PNW 2
The Pride opened the contest with an early lead, striking in the first inning when Taylor Kotzo (Munster, Ind./Munster) scored on a Wolves’ throwing error. But Stritch would answer back in the second on a Brittney Blazich two-RBI triple to score two unearned runs after a PNW error earlier in the inning.
The Pride didn’t quit, tying up the game in third when Kyleigh Payne (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bishop McNamara) singled and Kotzo scored again on a Stritch throwing error to make it 2-2. But the Wolves would answer one last time in the fifth on a clutch RBI double to left center from Karly Lange.
PNW had a chance to score in the sixth with two runners on and two outs, but Stritch centerfielder Rachel Odolski make a stellar sliding catch on an Allyson Leach (Demotte, Ind./North Newton) knock to short right center to end the threat.
Kotzo and Olivia Sardella (Dyer, Ind./Lake Central) led the Pride with two hits each and Payne added a hit as Stritch starter Fatime Sino held PNW to just five on the game.
Audrey Headley (Lafayette, Ind./McCutcheon) took the loss, scattering six hits while not allowing an earned run in six innings pitched.
GAME 1: USF 5, PNW 0
USF (39-5) plated two unearned runs in the first inning and Saints’ starter Morghan Dieringer — this seasons’ CCAC Pitcher of the Year — did the rest, holding the Pride to just two hits in the complete-game shutout.
The Saints would add another run in the fourth and two more in the sixth to extend their advantage in the 5-0 final.
PNW’s Taylor Kotzo (Munster, Ind./Munster) and Haley Loden (Crown Point, Ind./Lake Central) logged the Pride’s two hits and senior Caroline Brown (Minooka, Ill./Minooka) took the loss, giving up three hits, striking out one and allowing just one earned run in four innings pitched.