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.


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.