NORMAL -- An eight-game winning streak for the Illinois State softball team that started two weeks ago at Wichita State came to an abrupt close on one swing of the bat at Marian Kneer Stadium on Sunday.
A second-inning home run by Northern Iowa's Eranne Daugharthy gave the Panthers a 1-0 victory over the Redbirds, a lofty drive that barely cleared the 190-foot marker in left field to spoil a splendid pitching performance by ISU's Jordan Birch.
"It was on an inside pitch and I really like those," said Daugharthy of her seventh home run. "It was an inside riseball or a screwball and those are my favorite."
It was just one of two hits that Birch allowed.
Birch struck out the Panthers' leadoff batter on three pitches in the second and was ahead in the count 1-2 before Daugharthy's homer.
"It probably wasn't the best pitch to throw in that situation because I did strike her out (on Saturday) with a different pitch," Birch said. "I wish I could have taken that one back."
Birch (10-2) was dominant the rest of the way as UNI's only other hit came on a one-out single in the fifth.
"Typically, Jordan has had trouble pitching back-to-back days for us," said ISU coach Melinda Fischer. "Now she's developing into the type of pitcher where she's gaining strength, she gaining confidence and gaining in being in pitching shape. It was great to see her come out strong, stay strong and finish the entire game."
Birch limited the Panthers (23-17, 7-5) to only four base runners, two of them being hit by pitches. She struck out four and walked none.
UNI's Jamie Fisher held the Redbirds to four hits Sunday in posting the shutout.
Fisher mowed down the Redbirds (23-12, 9-2) until running into trouble in the fifth.
Harrison and Jhavon Hamilton led off with a pair of back-to-back singles and were both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Kara Nelson. Lauren Kellar then walked to load the bases.
The rally ended two pitches later when Abby Olsen hit a ground shot right at second baseman Livi Abney who turned it into an inning-ending double play.
Hamilton entered the contest on a 15-for-21 tear at the plate over the past seven games, including a home run Saturday. She was 1-for-3 on Sunday.
NORTHERN IOWA 1, ILLINOIS STATE 0
Northern Iowa 010 000 0—1-2-0
Illinois State 000 000 0—0-4-0
Fisher (W, 14-5) and Dunker; Birch (L, 10-2) and Kay
ILLINOIS STATE — Two hits – Harrison. Pitching — Birch (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO).
Records – Illinois State 23-12, 9-2, MVC; Northern Iowa 22-18, 7-5.