Penn State Drops Close Second Game to Wisconsin

posted March 31, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew White

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions lost a narrow 3-2 game against the No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers on a warm Saturday afternoon. 

Hannah Shields had a phenomenal pitching performance against a Badger team that features 8 players hitting over .300. Shields pitched just over six innings allowing no walks, 8 hits with 3 strikeouts.  

“I value not giving up walks and managing no walks, pounding the zone and going at batters and being fearless on the mound was really important,” Shields said.

Penn State came into the game with a challeng,e as the Badgers owned a three-game winning streak and starting pitcher Haley Hestekin had 11 wins with a 1.64 ERA entering the game.  

“It was really important to start the game strong," Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "We knew we had to slug with them or outslug them. Our biggest thing is that we need to hit harder balls and challenge them more.  We just got to do a better job of executing.”

Freshman Chelsea Bisi executed the game plan perfectly by knocking a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning to give Penn State an early 1-0 lead. 

However, sophomore pitcher Haley Hestekin bounced back and limited the Nittany Lions to only two runs making her only five wins short of her season high of 17.

Penn State looked hopeful of upsetting the Badgers until the third inning when Kayla Konwent crushed a homerun over Tori Polk’s head.  Stephanie Lombardo followed Konwent by hitting a home run two batters later to give the Badgers an early 2-1 lead. 

Wisconsin managed to put runners on base every inning except the sixth. However, Shields remained resilient and prevented Wisconsin from extending their lead.

Shields attempted to limit Konwent’s presence as she leads the Badgers with a .442 batting average, .551 on-base percentage, and 32 RBIs.  Konwent went 3-for-4 this afternoon with one home run and two doubles.  

“We haven’t figured her out yet," Lehotak said. "We talk about not being afraid of anybody and we’re going to keep giving her our best stuff.  We kept her in the park at the end of the game. But, we need to send a message to her that we’re not afraid.”

Penn State managed to climb back into the game in the bottom of the sixth. Tori Dubois came led off the inning with a pinch-hit single into right field. Dani Fey ensued the single with a fielder's choice putting her on base.  However, Toni Polk doubled down the left field line advancing Fey to third, which allowed Swedberg to knock Fey in on a groundout in the following at-bat. 

Wisconsin followed Penn State’s rally in the following inning as Lauren Foster led off with a double down the right-field line.  Kelly Welsh’s sacrifice bunt moved Foster to third before Ally Miklesh batted her in on an infield single.  Konwent then singled to center, which ended Shields’ afternoon. 

Kylee Lingenfelter entered the game with two runners in scoring position and only one out.  However, she ended Wisconsin's rally by striking out Taylor Johnson and forcing Lombardo to pop out. 

Penn State tried to rally in the last half of the seventh inning but came up short. Despite the loss, Lehotak was impressed with her team’s outing but expects more tomorrow. 

“I have a higher standard offensively but thought we fought harder than yesterday," Lehotak said. "Our team is really young and we can compete and this is the most resilient group we’ve had.”

Penn State will look to bounce back Sunday for the final game of the series at 12 p.m. at Beard Field.

 

Matthew White is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism with a double minor in Business and Spanish. To contact him, email mmw42@psu.edu.