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.

The Purdue softball team struggled with run deficits in its home opener weekend against Iowa.

In three of the Boilermakers’ (5-11) four games against the Hawkeyes (10-6), Purdue fell into an early-inning deficit from which it couldn’t recover.

By the time the Boilers reached the plate in the fifth inning of each game, Purdue was down 3-1, 5-0 and 6-1. Those games ended 4-2, 5-3 and 8-3, respectively.

The one exception and the highlight of the weekend came Saturday night. The Boilers fought out a 5-4 win in 12 innings against the Hawkeyes in the second game of a doubleheader. The game could have ended 2-0 Purdue in the seventh inning, but an Iowa homer and an RBI single pushed the game to extra innings.

The Hawkeyes nearly ended the game another two times in the 11th and 12th innings, but Purdue hung on and finally ended the game on a bases-loaded RBI single from freshman catcher Kiley Goff.

The game is tied for second-longest in program history, behind a 16-inning win in 2000 against Minnesota, according to a Purdue Athletics press release issued after the game.

That mighty effort may have left the Boilers without energy to continue, though. Sunday’s game saw Purdue score runs only in the first and seventh innings, despite out-hitting Iowa, 11-9. Three Purdue errors gave Iowa 5 unearned runs as well, all within the first four innings. The Boilermakers also had trouble closing out innings; 7 of Iowa’s 8 runs came with two outs.

The first game in the series could have ended worse than 4-2 based on the box score. Iowa outhit Purdue 13-3 for a .433 average. But the Boilermakers’ pitching stranded 11 runners to prevent the Hawkeyes from converting their hits. Purdue stranded only four batters.

Saturday’s first game featured 13 strikeouts from Iowa pitcher Allison Doocy. Despite her performance, Purdue logged six hits, and sophomore third baseman Cora Bassett mashed a 3-run homer in the fifth inning to threaten the Hawkeyes’ lead. Her offense turned out to be Purdue’s only runs of the game.

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