HAMMOND, Ind. — The Purdue University Northwest softball team made Senior Day a two-game sweep over visiting West Virginia Tech Friday, topping the Golden Bears by scores of 8-0 and 1-0 at Dowling Park’s Fifth Third Bank Field.
The Pride (28-21-1) used a big six-run, sixth inning to propel them to a five-inning mercy-rule win in Game 1, before senior Hannah Lopez (Granada Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany) connected for the game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh of Game 2 to give PNW the walk-off victory.
Between games, PNW honored its eight seniors: Caroline Brown, Haley Loden, Hannah Lopez, Allyson Leach, Audrey Headley, Emily Cole, Leslie Ford, and Samantha Oppenhuis.
PNW is set to return to action Sunday, when the Pride host nonleague opponent Indiana Tech in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. The Pride have already completed Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference play and have locked up the fourth seed heading into the league tournament, set to begin Thursday in at the Ballpark in Rosemont, Ill.
PNW will most likely face fifth-seed St. Ambrose (31-16, 14-10) in the first round, with times yet to be announced.
GAME 1: PNW 8, WVU TECH 0 (5 innings)
Senior Haley Loden (Crown Point, Ind./Lake Central) went a perfect 4-for-4 with two runs scored and and RBI and junior Kyleigh Payne (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bishop McNamara) was 1-for-3 with a two-RBI, walk-off triple in the fifth Pride hitters in Game 1.
PNW totaled 12 hits — including two more from Holly Pagan (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) and three from Taylor Kotzo (Munster, Ind./Munster) — which proved to be more than enough for senior starter Audrey Headley (Lafayette, Ind./McCutcheon), who picked up her fifth win of the year.
Headley threw five innings and allowed just four hits, struck out two and walked one in her third straight win.
The game stood scoreless until the fourth, when PNW scored six runs — mostly on infield hits with runners on the bases — to break it open. Kotzo, Loden, Payne, Pagan, Tessa Steffens (Litchfield, Ill./Litchfield) and Samantha Oppenhuis (Munster, Ind./Illiana Christian) all tallied RBIs in the fourth for PNW.
Payne would then finish it off in the fifth with a base-clearing triple to give PNW the walk-off win.
GAME 2: PNW 1, WVU Tech 0
Hannah Lopez connected for a sacrifice fly with a runner on third to give the Pride its second walk-off win of the day in Game 2.
After both teams headed into the seventh inning in a scoreless tie, junior Alex Morales (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) opened the bottom of the frame with a single through the left side. Allyson Leach (Demotte, Ind./North Newton) then reached on an error to push Morales to third base to set up Lopez for the game-winning run.
PNW senior Caroline Brown (Minooka, Ill./Minooka) picked up her fifth shut out of the season and her 14th win of the year, allowing just two hits, striking out two and didn’t walk a batter in another stellar effort.
PNW totaled just four hits in Game 2, as Loden, Payne, Morales and Leach all reached safely, with Payne recording another triple.