Penn State softball rallies but drop series opener to Wisconsin
A late rally in the bottom of the seventh inning would prove to not be enough for Penn State softball, as they fell to the Wisconsin Badgers by a score of 6-3.
The red-hot Lions came into this first game of the three game weekend series confident and fresh off of a sweep of Bucknell, and as winners of six of their last eight games.
Penn State started Friday night strong, with freshman pitcher Marlaina Laubach recording the first two outs on two pitches.
Laubach, who threw a dominant complete game on Wednesday night against Bucknell, was settled into the same winning rhythm until the third inning, when she gave up a towering three-run home run to Wisconsin’s Mary Massei and a solo home run to Stephanie Peace immediately after.
“I’ll give Marlaina credit, in the beginning of the year she never admitted to missing over the plate and I thought tonight was a big grownup moment for her, because every time she came in, she said ‘now I’m missing over the plate,” said head coach Amanda Lehotak. “Unfortunately for her she was missing over the plate to their best hitters, but you expect that from freshmen- when they miss, it’s high and over the plate and that’s what she did.”
The weakness for the Lions continued to be their inability to make solid contact at the plate. The Badgers’ Cassandra Darrah pitched a dominant complete game, only allowing three runs on five hits—the majority of which came in the later innings where the Wisconsin lead was already 6-1.
“We came out and we were swinging like out of our butts,” said Lehotak. “We were swinging hard and fast and lost our discipline at the plate and got off track from our game plan.”
Penn State got back on track around the middle innings, with Lexi Knief grounding into a fielder’s choice for an out, but doing her job to score the runner from third base.
“They finally started calming down and started staying through the ball within their base (legs). You could feel us getting there,” said Lehotak.
In their last chance in the bottom of the seventh inning, things started looking up for Penn State.
Freshman Shelby Miller drew a walk to start the rally. Pinch hitter Shannon Good hit a single, bringing up Alicia Walker who would notch the Lions’ first score since the fifth inning. Knief followed, recording her second RBI of the game, bringing the score up to 6-3 with one out.
Then, with he bases loaded, Reyna Furuya hit a sharp line drive out to right field that was caught on a great, diving play by Wisconsin’s Katie Christner. As fast as the rally started, it was over, as Christner doubled up the runner at first, ending the game.
The rally was a sure sign of the team coming around offensively. Had the ball gone past Christner, the Lions could’ve potentially won the game.
“I see our kids are confident they can beat Wisconsin now, that was their number one and they feel good that they can win two tomorrow. That’s exactly what you want to have is that confidence going into a double header tomorrow,” said Lehotak.
The team now moves to a 14-24 overall, with a 5-8 Big Ten record. They look to improve tomorrow, as they face off against Wisconsin in an afternoon doubleheader, with the first game starting at 12:30 p.m.
Kristen Garrone is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism. To contact her email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism & Economics
Kristen Garrone is a senior studying broadcast journalism and economics at Penn State. Growing up in the fast-paced northeastern news and sports market has greatly piqued her interest in a career of broadcast journalism. She very interested in sports, both college and professional. She’s a sports anchor and reporter for the Centre County Report and has worked internships around campus with WPSU-Sports and Unrivaled: The Penn State Football Story, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, and the Lady Lions Basketball team.
Outside of State College, she’s been lucky enough to intern for the PGA’s New England Section and hope to pursue a career in the golf industry. She’s excited to take advantage of all of the opportunities she has here at PSU and am excited to begin a career in sports journalism.