Penn State softball notches first home win in doubleheader split
Penn State softball clinched its first win at home to close out its eight-game homestand on Wednesday evening, while hosting in-state foe Saint Francis for a doubleheader.
Despite falling 4-2 in the first game, the Nittany Lions dominated the Red Flash in the second game, 9-1, in a shortened six innings. With the win, Penn State ended its eight-game losing streak and moved to 7-22 overall on the year.
Freshman pitcher Marlaina Laubach registered four strikeouts against the Flash, in her fifth win of the season. Other vital contributors to the win were sophomore Lexi Knief and freshman Shelby Miller who each had three hits, along with senior Liz Presto’s first homer of the season.
Game 1: Saint Francis 4, Penn State 2
With a season-best seven strikeouts and just two walks, sophomore pitcher Macy Jones had one her best games of the season in the first contest. However, Penn State could not come back from a pair of two-run homers.
The first four innings were scoreless for both teams, until Taylor Parson’s hit one over the right field wall, bringing in Sabrie Neeb, to make the score 2-0.
The Red Flash were able to keep the Lions off the board, but a solo home run to center field from Liz Presto in the seventh frame finally got Penn State’s offense going
“I try to go up there very confident to give off the mentality ‘I got you know matter what,’” said Presto. “I feel like the pitcher feeds off of the batter, so if I go up there strong they’ve got no chance.”
A base hit to right field from Reina Furuya and a Saint Francis error on Knief’s hit put two Lions on base. The two runners then advanced to scoring position, with a sacrifice bunt from Kasie Hatfield.
Penn State tied up the game at 2-2, after a sacrifice fly from Kasie Habitz allowed Furuya to reach home plate. After the final out of the frame, the game moved into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, with two outs, Saint Francis was able to regain a 4-2 lead after a two-run home run from Alexis Bower.
The Nittany Lions came out swinging in the bottom half of the inning, with a leadoff double to right, from freshman Kristina Brackpool.
After a single from Alyssa Sovereign, Presto advanced the runners to scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. However, officials called that Mary Ward, pinch runner for Brackpool, did not tag up at third before heading home, ending the first game for the Lions with a score of 4-2.
“Game one we had a lot of disciplinary issues, missed plays, so game one was very frustrating, actually, from an offensive point-of-view,” said Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak.
Game 2: Penn State 9, Saint Francis 1
Despite frustration from the previous game, the Nittany Lions came out of the locker room with a different attitude for the second game.
Penn State’s first-year coach believed her team had the ability to bounce back from the loss.
“I told them it was time to grow up,” said Lehotak.
The second game began much like the first, with neither team putting runs on the board through the first few innings. However, Penn State registered eight runs in the fifth inning, which allowed the team to clinch their first home win.
Saint Francis scored their only run in the top of the third, when Davina Kachinovitz took advantage of her teammate being thrown out attempting to steal second base.
Freshman Shelby Miller proved herself in the second game, going a perfect 3-for-3. She led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to left field that ignited Penn State’s offense for the rest of the eventful inning.
Miller advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt from Furuya, followed by Maegan Tupinio’s first collegiate hit that moved Miller to third. Knief registered an RBI with a single up the middle, bringing Miller home to tie up the game at one.
The Lions lead extended when Tupinio and Knief made it home on a two RBI single to right field from Hatfield.
The bases were then loaded when Macy Jones took first after being hit by a pitch and Alicia Walker hit a single.
Miller continued her streak with a double to left center that brought Presto and Walker home. Miller also added the final run of the inning, when an error from Saint Francis’ second baseman allowed Furuya to get to first.
Lehotak spoke highly of Miller’s overall improvement and performance in the doubleheader.
“In the fall, she was a hot mess…She has been really working on her mental game,” said Lehotak. “She has got a lot of natural strength quick hands. So really, her success does not come as a surprise.”
Saint Francis could not get anything going offensively and left the sixth with no additional runs. In the bottom half, another Saint Francis error allowed Sovereign to score to make it 9-1, ending the game per the eight-run rule.
“We’re actually very resilient… they can come back and still play the came hard as expected. I like that a lot about them,” said Lehotak.
The Nittany Lions will begin their first Big Ten road series of the season in East Lansing, Michigan, on Friday, and take on Michigan State.
Nicole Barros is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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