The Purdue North Central softball team finished 8-6 on their annual spring trip to Tucson, AZ over spring break.
The Panthers dropped their first game of the trip on March 8th by the score of 5-2 in eight innings against Northland College, a NCAA, Division III team from Ashland, WI .
The game was tied 2-2 before Northland erupted for the winning runs in their final at bats in the top of the eighth inning. Both teams knocked out seven hits and played error-free ball.
Melissa Carson and Stephanie Zaharias led PNC with two hits apiece while Jessica Brannagan and Kate Golden drove in one run each.
Golden (0-1) was the losing pitcher as she gave up the three runs in 2.2 innings of work, collecting six strikeouts while walking one and giving up four hits. Bethany Toyias started for PNC and pitched 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out seven.
In game two the Panthers moved to 0-2 after falling to Mayville State University, an NAIA program from North Dakota by the score of 7-4.
PNC opened the contest with two runs in the top of the first inning but Mayville responded with six of their own to take control of the game. The Panthers inched closer with two more runs in the fourth but Mayville held on for the victory.
PNC out-hit Mayville 10-4 but the Comets took advantage of seven walks and an error by PNC for the difference.
Zaharias, Carson and Val Minyard all had two hits for the Panthers with Minyard picking up and RBI. Brannagan led the way with two RBI while Erin Foust contributed a double.
Alissa Whitaker moved to 0-1 on the year, allowing three runs without recording an out. She walked two batters and hit one. Tracy Markwell finished the game for PNC giving up four runs on four hits, five walks, and three hit batters in six innings of work.
In the third game of the trip and the third game of the day, the Panthers picked up their first win of the year with a 3-0 victory over Calvin College (MI). Calvin is another NCAA, Division III program.
Toyias (1-0) had an outstanding game giving up just five hits and two walks while striking out six in going the distance.
The Panthers needed a strong pitching performance as they mustered all three runs in the second inning while collecting eight hits overall.
Carson had two hits for the third straight game while Danielle Burdine also collected two hits. Zaharias had the only extra base hit of the game with a double for PNC that drove in two runs. Alyssa Duncan added the other RBI for the Panthers.
The Panthers played another tripleheader on Sunday and started the day with an exciting 8-7 victory over Missouri Valley College, an NAIA program from Marshall, MO.
PNC seemed to have control of the game, taking a 5-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning. But the Vikings rallied for five runs to take a 7-5 lead. After PNC recorded two outs in the bottom of the seventh, they scored three runs on four straight singles and a game-winning walk from Burdine to win the game.
The two teams both amassed high hit totals with the Panthers out-slugging the Vikings 18-13. Foust led PNC with four hits while Minyard added three. Zaharias, Golden (HR), Jessica Frucci and Duncan all had two hits apiece. Carson led PNC with two RBI while five others added single RBI's.
Toyias moved to 2-0, giving up seven runs on 13 hits and one walk while striking out nine.
The Panthers fell to 2-3 on the trip following their second game on Sunday when they fell to Dickinson State University 15-0. The Blue Hawks are a top tier NAIA program from Dickinson, ND .
Dickinson State came out quickly, scoring seven runs in the first, one in the second and six in the third before cruising to the five inning victory. The Blue Hawks collected 17 hits to the Panthers' five.
Golden (0-2) took the loss after allowing all 15 runs (14 earned) on 16 hits and three walks in four innings of work. Markwell added a scoreless inning for PNC.
Minyard was the only Panther with more than one hit as she collected two in the game.
The Panthers' struggles continued in their third game of the day as they fell 12-7 to Webster College, a NCAA D-III program from Missouri .
Both teams came out of the gate hot with Webster scoring two runs in the first inning, one in the second and five in the third. PNC responded with two runs in the first and five in the second to make it 8-7 after three innings of play.
However, the Panthers didn't score again as Webster posted a four-run sixth for the difference.
The Panthers had nine hits overall, including two each from Brannagan, Minyard (double, two RBI), Maher (two RBI) and Frucci. Foust added a two-run double for PNC.
Despite the hot hitting, the Panthers allowed 12 hits, including two homeruns and three doubles. Whitaker started the game and gave up six runs on seven hits and a walk in two innings while striking out four.
Toyias relieved and gave up two runs on four hits while striking out six in two innings. Golden finished the game for PNC and gave up four more runs on four hits and a walk while striking out two in one inning.
After an off day on Monday, PNC (2-4) had another tripleheader on Tuesday. This day proved to be a turning point for the Panthers as they would finish the trip winning six of their last eight games.
In game one the Panthers defeated Cornerstone University (MI), a NAIA program, by the score of 4-0 behind the strong pitching of Toyias.
Toyias allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out ten in the complete game performance.
The Panthers scored all of their runs in the first inning as they sent all nine batters to the plate. PNC collected three of their seven hits overall and took advantage of a hit batter, two walks and an error from Cornerstone.
Zaharias and Foust led the Panthers with two hits each while Frucci led them with two RBI.
In game two on Tuesday the Panthers (3-4) defeated Missouri Valley for the second time on the trip by the score of 10-5.
Markwell led the way by throwing another complete game, allowing five runs on 11 hits and a walk while striking out three.
Brannagan (triple) and Zaharias (double, two walks) led the Panther nine-hit attack with two hits apiece. Maher led them with three RBI and Minyard (double) collected two RBI. PNC also took advantage of four errors and six walks from Missouri Valley .
The game was tied at 3-3 before the Panthers exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning to take control of the game.
In the last game of the day the Panthers dropped a tight 5-4 ballgame to Jamestown College, a NAIA program from North Dakota .
The Panthers seemed to be in control of the game taking a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. But Jamestown rallied for four runs on a walk, a hit batter, a wild pitch, a fast ball and three consecutive singles to win the game.
Whitaker started for PNC and allowed one unearned run in six innings on six hits and a walk while striking out four. Golden took the loss, allowing all four runs in the seventh.
The Panthers collected eight hits compared to nine for Jamestown, and were led by Zaharias (double) and foust with two each. Zaharias also led PNC with two RBI.
On Wednesday the Panthers (4-5) played three more games and started off by edging Jamestown 4-3. This time the Panthers scored the winning run in the seventh inning on a game winning hit by Minyard.
The two teams were evenly matched again as PNC scored one run in the fourth inning, two in the sixth and the run in the seventh. Jamestown scored one run apiece in the third, fifth and sixth innings.
Markwell started for PNC and went five strong innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out four. Golden came in and pitched the final two innings for the win, allowing one run on two hits while striking out four.
Minyard led PNC with three hits while Burdine (double) collected two hits and two RBI. Brannagan picked up a triple while Maher and Frucci also had doubles.
In their next game on Wednesday the Panthers (5-5) took on Cornerstone University for the second time on the trip. This time PNC fell 2-1 in another well-played ballgame.
The Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by foust. Unfortunately, the Panthers managed just four more singles and a double by Golden the rest of the way.
Whitaker was the hard-luck loser, allowing just two runs on five hits in five innings while striking out six. Two of the hits were lead-off triples in the fourth and fifth innings that led to both of Cornerstone's runs. Toyias added a hitless inning for PNC giving up a walk while striking out two.
In the last game of the day PNC evened their record at 6-6 with a 5-2 victory over Iowa Wesleyan, another NAIA program.
The Panthers pounded out 13 hits as Foust and Frucci led the way with three hits each. Minyard added two hits, including a double and Duncan led PNC with two RBI. Maher also added a double for the Panthers.
PNC broke open a 2-2 ballgame with three runs in their last at-bats in the top of the seventh inning for the difference.
Toyias went the distance for the Panthers to earn the victory. She allowed the two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five.
The Panthers concluded the trip with a doubleheader sweep on Thursday to finish with a three game winning streak.
In their first game PNC defeated McKendree College, an NAIA program from Illinois by the score of 7-1.
The Panthers pounced out to a 5-1 lead after three innings of play after scoring one run in the first inning and two each in the second and third innings. They added two more in the seventh for the final score.
PNC out-hit McKendree 10-7 and took advantage of four Bearcat errors.
Markwell started and gave up one run on five hits and two walks while striking out two in 2.1 innings. Toyias came on and allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out two the rest of the way.
Maher and Carson (double) each had two hits and two RBI for the Panthers while Minyard had two hits and one RBI. Brannagan added a double for PNC.
The Panthers ended their trip on a high note with an impressive 9-0, five-inning win over Patten University (CA), another NAIA program.
Toyias went all five innings giving up just two hits and a walk while striking out five.
The Panthers had 10 more hits and were led by Brannagan with two hits and two RBI. Frucci (two hits, double), Maher (two RBI), Foust, Carson and Duncan (all had doubles) also had solid performances for PNC.
After their flight home on Saturday, the Panthers look to be back in action when they host Concordia University (MI) at 2:30 p.m. in Michigan City on Thursday, March 20th.