By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- This weekend was full of plenty of action at Beard field as the Penn State softball team dominated Rutgers for the first Big Ten three-game sweep of the season
To open up the weekend, the Nittany Lions secured a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth with junior Shannon Good's first career home run. Good was one of five Penn Staters to make a presence at bat during the first game of the series.
"I think this series was good for the team, Rutgers is highly respected team and when playing a team like them we have to always show we're willing to fight for the win," said head coach Amanda Lehotak.
The team honored three seniors before the start of Saturday's game, Meghan Bradley, Marissa Diescher and Alicia Walker.
Jessica Cummings, who was the team's star pitcher Friday night, continued to throw a great game on Saturday. She pitched the first five innings, then teammate Macy Jones close the game on the mound. Despite the Scarlet Knights getting on the board in the first inning, the Lions brought their batting game and ended the game with a 12-6 victory.
Freshman Alyssa VanDerveer lead the charge offensively with her 13th home run of the season and drove in three additional runs to help the Nittany Lions take the win.
"Rally innings are a huge part of our game, every time I get a hit I know I'm helping my team win," said VanDerveer.
Coming off of another victory over the Scarlet Knights, the Blue and White entered the third and final game hungry for the sweep.
Rutgers got on the board early and finished the first inning with two runs and four hits. After four innings, both teams remained scoreless until the Scarlet Knights widened the lead with a single home run by Sierra Maddox in the top of the sixth. Despite being three behind Rutgers, PSU entered the bottom of the seventh inning determined to fight.
At the top of the batting lineup, Jones singled and VanDerveer walked, however due to an illegal pitch both Jones and pinch runner Maegan Tupinio advanced to second and third. Pond stepped up to the plate and homered to right field, making the game tied 3-3 and giving the Lions back life in the game. Pitcher Marlaina Laubach prevented the Scarlet Knights from scoring in the eighth and ninth inning as the rest of defense made sure to stop any ball that came its' way.
Going into extra innings, Penn State and Rutgers remained tied until Knief singled to centerfield to send Walker home to finish the game and complete the sweep.
"Although we were behind, we never gave up. We pride ourselves on being a team that fights until the end and that's what gave us the win today," said Knief.
The Nittany Lions are 27-24 overall and are 9-11 in Big Ten play. This weekend also marks the team's 11th home victory of the season, the most since 2012.
"This series gave us some confidence I think we needed as we prepare for Pitt and Michigan," said coach Lehotak.
Although the Blue and White are done with home games this season, the team will travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday for a mid-week matchup. This will be the second time Lehotak and the team will face the Panthers this season. The first pitch is to be thrown at 6 p.m. After Pitt, the team will take on the last regular season series against No. 4 Michigan in Ann Arbor for a three-game weekend. The first of the series is set to begin at 6 p.m. Friday night.