Polk Leads Penn State Past Michigan State
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA----- Toni Polk drove in three runs and Tori Dubois homered as Penn State beat the Michigan State Spartans 8-6 on Friday night at Medlar Field. Kaitlyn Eveland drove in five runs for Michigan State in the loss.
Jessica Cummings got the start for the Nittany Lions and struggled in the first inning, giving up a three-run homer to Eveland in the top of the first. She was taken out after three innings but returned in the top of the fifth to get the win.
The early three-run lead disappeared quickly as Polk tripled down the line to put the Nittany Lions up 4-3. She singled in the third inning to extend the lead to 5-3.
Dubois homered in the bottom of the fourth after Kelsey Carrasco dropped a pop out in foul territory. Eveland doubled in the top of the fifth inning to trim Penn State’s lead to one.
Penn State improves its record to 7-28, while Michigan State drops to 14-21.
For most of the season, Penn State’s offense has struggled to generate runs as the team’s batting average entering Friday’s game was .223. Dubois was the only player on the team that had an average over .300, but Friday was a much different story.
The Nittany Lions scored eight runs off of 11 hits, making up for Cummings’ bad first inning. Penn State’s first run was a bit controversial. In the bottom of the first inning, Dubois was ruled safe on a fielder’s choice when it appeared the throw got in on time.
The call helped out the Nittany Lions as they scored three more runs in the inning, capped by a two-run triple by Polk with the bases loaded. Head coach Amanda Lehotak talked about how important her play was at the beginning of the game.
“Toni has been a little frustrated lately,” Lehotak said. “So for her to have that, to kind of breath a little, was excellent. That’s what Toni does.”
The junior left fielder knocked in another run in the third with the bases loaded, the same scenario she faced in the first. Polk was placed lower in the batting order than normal at seventh, but it paid off for the Nittany Lions.
She was not the only player to hit in an unusual spot as Dubois batted leadoff for the Nittany Lions. She explained how she liked being the spark for the offense.
“It’s definitely a different spot in the lineup, but I like leading off a game,” Dubois said. “I like getting the spark going for the team.”
Dubois’ home run in the fourth made the score 7-3, a score that Michigan State was unable to come back from. Katie Quinlan created a late spark for the Spartans as she forced a pair of throwing errors on Destiny Weber in the fifth and sixth innings that resulted in runs.
Lea Foerster, Michigan State’s best player, had plenty of opportunities to put the Spartans ahead, but was unable to get on base and left four runners on. Both teams will play a doubleheader tomorrow at Beard Field with the opener set for 2 p.m.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.