3/28/21 Iowa, Rachel Becker

Then-junior shortstop Rachel Becker goes for a tag on an Iowa runner during a 2021 doubleheader against the Hawkeyes. Becker finished the game with four putouts.

Purdue softball came out above .500 after its final showing before Big Ten Play last week. The Boilermakers ended the 5-game USF Invite with a loss to the No. 22 University of Southern Florida Saturday afternoon after barely beating the same team Thursday evening.

Purdue blew what was most likely its best scoring opportunity in the fifth inning when two batters struck out with the bases loaded, stranding three potential runs to end the inning. The game was tied 1-1 after a second-inning home run from Emilee Cox; it was her first career home run. 

USF scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead it would hold for the remainder of the game.

Just two days earlier, The Boilermakers beat the Bulls 1-0 off a solo home run from senior catcher Kaeley Hallada in the fifth inning. Alex Echazarreta threw her third complete game shutout of the season — on her birthday — giving up only 2 hits and striking out three batters. 

The team lost earlier on Thursday to Lehigh University. Purdue scored first off a sacrifice fly in the first inning before three home runs, two doubles and a single from Lehigh batted in eight runs over six innings, resulting in an 8-1 Lehigh victory. 

Purdue went 2-2 Friday. The first game of the day ended on a walk off RBI double from Echazarreta, clinching the 6-5 win for Purdue. Brenna Smith pitched just over 5 innings and threw a career-high five strikeouts. Purdue tied a season best for three triples in the game. 

Cox hit an RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth inning to clinch a 5-4 victory over St. Thomas Friday evening. It was Cox's first hit of the season. 

Purdue will begin Big Ten play with a three-game series against Illinois this weekend. Friday's game, which will feature a poster giveaway, is at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday games begin at 1 p.m. Saturday's game will be followed by a player autograph session, and Sunday's game includes a "Youth Camp Reunion" and "Sunday Funday." All games will be broadcast on BTN+. 

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