Purdue softball drops two games on Opening Day

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) – The Boilermaker softball team managed 14 hits and struck out 12 batters, but found themselves on the short end of a pair of opening day contests against 2013 NCAA competitors North Carolina and Northern Iowa.

All 20 Purdue players on the trip saw action during the doubleheader, including 19 in the UNI game. Seven different players contributed hits, led by seniors Maia Monchek and Andie Varsho and junior Ashley Burkhardt, who each posted three hits on the day.

Four pitchers saw time in the circle, each striking out at least one batter.

Purdue wraps up the Louisiana Classic with a 10 a.m. ET Sunday against No. 10 Texas.

North Carolina 3, Purdue 2

The Boilermaker softball team outhit the North Carolina Tarheels, but fell short in a 3-2 decision to open the 2014 season. Purdue tallied two runs on seven hits, while allowing UNC three unearned runs on six hits and five errors. Senior Maia Monchek and junior Ashley Burkhardt had two hits apiece in the game.

Lori Spingola (1-1) struck out nine in the win for North Carolina, while sophomore Lilly Fecho (0-1) issued six Ks in the loss for Purdue.

A single, an error and a walk filled the bases for UNC in the first inning and another miscue put the Tarheels on the board.

The Boilermakers managed three hits in the bottom of the first, but could not push a run across, as senior Andie Varsho, Monchek and Burkhardt singled in the stanza.

In the second inning, a two-out rally with help from a pair of Purdue miscues made it 2-0.

Purdue got one run back in the second as senior Tori Chiodo lifted a home run to right center. It was the sixth of her Boilermaker career.

North Carolina filled the bases in the fourth, but Fecho sat down the next two batters via strikeout to escape the inning unscathed.

The Boilers tied it up in the fourth as Burkhardt bounced a home run off the scoreboard in right field to start the stanza.

Purdue threatened in the fifth, putting two aboard on a walk to Varsho and a single by Monchek, but could not take the lead.

A hit, a walk and a sacrifice put set up the Tarheels’ final score, which came on a fielding error in the sixth.

The Boilermakers had a chance for the tie in the seventh, after a double by sophomore Mary Gooding, but a fielder’s choice and a diving snag by the UNC center fielder ended the comeback bid.

Northern Iowa 6, Purdue 3

A seventh-inning rally was not enough to help the Boilermaker softball team overcome a 6-1 deficit in its Saturday night cap against the Northern Iowa Panthers.

The Panthers scored in the first, second and fifth innings, compiling six runs on nine hits and two Purdue miscues, while the Boilermakers managed three runs on seven hits and an error. Senior Andie Varsho went 2-for-3 with a walk to lead a group of six players with hits in the contest.

Jamie Fisher (2-1) struck out five Purdue batters in the complete-game victory for UNI, while juniors Lexy Moore and Alex Whittemore and senior Lauren Grant all saw time in the circle for the Boilers, combining for six strikeouts.

With a runner at first after a two-out fielding error, Chelsea Ross put UNI on the board with a two-run shot to left field.

The Boilermakers threatened in the bottom of the inning, putting a runner on third, but could not capitalize. Varsho singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch, but was stranded by a pair of infield grounders.

Northern Iowa combined a pair of doubles for a run in the second, then Whittemore took over in the circle. Purdue tried to answer as freshman Katy McJunkin singled and went to second on a passed ball in the bottom of the inning, but could not convert on the RBI opportunity.

The Boilers broke through on an RBI ground ball by junior Ashley Burkhardt in the third. A fielding error, a walk and a sacrifice set the table for the score.

Whittemore kept the Panthers in check for two innings, before UNI strung together five straight singles and an error for three runs in the fifth. Grant took over in the circle with bases loaded and facing a 6-1 deficit. She promptly sat down three straight batters on a fly out, a pop up and a strikeout, and continued on to retired nine of the 10 batters she faced over the final three stanzas.

Purdue put runners aboard in the fifth and the sixth, but could not cut into the Panther lead. Senior Tori Chiodo walked and went to second in the fifth, while McJunkin walked and senior Danielle Fletcher singled in the sixth.

The Boilermakers mounted a comeback in the seventh with a two-out rally, plating two runs on four hits, but could not overcome the margin.

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