Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State dropped its final Wednesday night doubleheader of the season when it fell to Saint Francis 2-0 and 1-0.
Senior Marley Laubach and sophomore Madison Shaffer got the starting nods on the mound, both pitching a complete game. Shaffer had four strikeouts and only two batters walked in eight innings in game two.
"I thought she pitched good enough to win," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "I thought she was competitive, she did a great job, her changeup was unstoppable tonight and I'm very proud of her."
Shaffer didn't want to take all the credit in game two, and pushed the accolades off to the rest of her teammates who all had strong defensive games.
"Tonight the defense played phenomenal as a whole," Shaffer said. "They made some really awesome plays and that really helps me have confidence in myself when I know that they're on and making awesome plays."
The Nittany Lions were able to hold the Red Flash to minimal runs in both games thanks to outstanding play from all three outfielders.
Tori Dubois, Rebecca Ziegler and Sam Shanahan, playing left field, center field and right field, respectively, were all strong on defense. And it wasn't particularly easy in game one; with a 5 p.m. start time, the outfielders fell victim to a setting sun in Happy Valley, with the glare in their eyes the entire game.
Ziegler had the most impressive catch of the game amongst the three, saving a hit in the top of the second when Saint Francis' Halle Marion hit a fly ball to left center field. Ziegler ran a good amount before making the diving catch to end the inning.
"Our outfield has really come on strong the past two weeks and they've really helped keep us in games," Lehotak said. "There's a coaching saying that 'you're only as good as your outfield' and I think that's very true, you have to have a good outfield to be above average and they've been doing a phenomenal job."
The Nittany Lions had to completely rebuild the outfield this season after losing veterans Macy Jones, Lexi Knief and Erin Pond to graduation. Lehotak took on that daunting task and found her replacements, all of who have so far filled in the holes well.
The outfield has been a stalwart in nearly every game this season. Dubois and Ziegler aren't afraid to get down and dirty, constantly putting their bodies on the line to make seemingly improbable catches.
Penn State hits the road for a three game series against Maryland this weekend. Start times are 5 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.