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Losses to Northern Iowa spoil hopes of regular season title

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Junior Mackenzie Wright rounds third base on her way to home to score against Indiana State.

Junior Mackenzie Wright rounds third base on her way to home to score against Indiana State.

Selena Favela

Selena Favela

Junior Mackenzie Wright rounds third base on her way to home to score against Indiana State.

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Wichita State softball had lost three out of their last four Missouri Valley Conference road games heading into Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The road struggles continued on Saturday against Northern Iowa.

WSU was unable to handle the Panthers in either game of Saturday’s doubleheader and put hopes of winning their final conference regular season championship out of reach. The 7-9 and 1-5 losses to UNI moved the Shockers down to fourth place and six games behind Illinois State for first with only three conference games left to play.

UNI took a 6-0 lead at the end of the third inning thanks to a sacrifice grounder and an RBI single from Jaclyn Spencer following Sammey Bunch’s grand slam home run in the bottom of the first. Three singles in the top of the fourth from seniors Ashley Johnson and Kelli Spring along with junior Mackenzie Wright allowed the Shockers to cut the UNI lead in half.

A single by junior Paige Luellen cut the deficit to two runs in the top of the fifth inning before the Panthers answered back with an RBI single to score a run.

Senior Macklin Hitz hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game at seven, but the Panthers responded with a sacrifice fly to centerfield and an RBI double from Bunch to finish the Shockers off in a two-run victory in game one.

The Panthers continued to get the bats rolling in game two, scoring immediately in the bottom of the first with a Brittany Roby double that drove in the leadoff run. Bunch followed with her second home run of the day in the second and came back with an RBI single in the bottom of the third to give UNI a 3-0 lead.

Anna Varriano’s double to second base scored two more runs for UNI in the bottom of the fourth to give the Panthers a commanding 5-0 lead. Sophomore Laurie Derrico scored the Shockers’ only run in the top of the sixth with a sacrifice grounder to second base.

UNI’s Alyssa Buchanan forced the Shockers to hit .160 in game two, allowing only four hits while striking out six WSU batters in a complete seven-inning game.

WSU (28-19, 13-9) finishes out the regular season with a five-game homestand at Wilkins Stadium. The Shockers take on Missouri on Wednesday in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.

Missouri is 31st in the latest RPI polls and received six votes in the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll.

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