The Purdue women’s softball team outlasted Iowa University this weekend to claim its first home series win of the season.
The Boilermakers (22-10, 2-1 Big Ten) won their Friday home opener 3-2 and split a Saturday doubleheader with a 2-1 loss and a 4-2 victory over the Hawkeyes (15-11, 1-2). The Boilers were led in hitting by freshman left fielder Kasey Wilhoit and senior first baseman Lexi Huffman, both of whom tallied four hits apiece. Wilhoit also led the Boilers in runs batted in, driving in three of the team’s eight total runs.
Senior third baseman Jenny Behan appreciated the team’s first taste of the Big Ten.
“A lot of the Big Ten teams have been doing well in preseason,” Behan said. “To be able to see them at home and with great weather, it’s been really fun.”
Both of the first two games in the series were marked by pitchers’ duels. Iowa drew first blood Friday with a two-run home run before Purdue fought back to tie the game in the third inning. The teams then traded scoreless innings until the bottom of the seventh, when an RBI double from Wilhoit gave the Boilers the win.
The scoring chasm was much longer in Saturday’s first game. After Iowa and Purdue each put up a run in the first inning, the squads went without a run until Iowa’s final inning at bat. An RBI single from second baseman Aralee Bogar sealed the game for the Hawkeyes and tied the series at 1-1.
The Boilermakers cited the energy of the stadium as part of their success on the field.
“Seeing the fans and having that atmosphere for us gives us a little bit more momentum,” Behan said. “When things are going our way, it’s really easy, but when things aren’t going our way, the fans really help out to bring the momentum back our way.”
The team used this energy to surge out to a 4-0 lead by the third inning, bolstered by offensive efforts from Wilhoit and Behan. Throughout the series, the two players formed a powerful offensive duo.
“They had a great weekend together,” head coach Boo De Oliveira said. “As a whole, we’re hitting more for power as a team, but those two definitely were hot this weekend.”
Iowa mounted a comeback late in the game, scoring runs in the fourth and sixth innings and threatening to tie the game up at multiple points during the sixth. Boilermaker sophomore pitcher Sydney Bates and senior Kaitlynn Moody outlasted the offensive push and sealed the series win for the team.
“I’m really proud of the team,” De Oliveira said. “I’m excited that we’re coming out aggressive and that we’re coming out with confidence and looking forward to next weekend.”
The Boilers return to Bittinger Stadium at 3 p.m. Saturday for a doubleheader against Indiana State University.