By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions got their first Big Ten series win over the weekend when they beat the Indiana Hoosiers 2-1 on Sunday after splitting a doubleheader on Saturday.
Junior Gianna Arrizurieta got the start in right field for game three and, as head coach Amanda Lehotak described it, was the "MVP of the year [with] how she played."
Arrizurieta was one of the lone bright spots on offense for much of the game in a largely defensive outing for the Nittany Lions, hammering out two doubles after entering the game batting .056.
"Gianna's one of those special athletes, she's a special person and the fact that her work ethic defines who she is, she works every day," Lehotak said. "She hasn't gotten a lot of opportunities and she's been chomping at the bit, and today she got the opportunity and is going to keep it for awhile, so I'm so happy for her and she's just proof that hard work pays off."
Her first double came in the bottom of the second with Toni Polk on first base. Polk rounded the bases to give Penn State the one run lead and Arrizurieta her first RBI of the season. Her second double came in the fifth inning when she ripped one down the left field sideline.
Penn State has struggled throughout the season to plate runners who are in scoring position, but was successful in doing so against the Hoosiers all weekend.
"It's so refreshing [to do that]," Lehotak said. "We've been right there all year and we just haven't been able to bust through the door and hopefully these past two games are just the little momentum that we need."
"Nothing was different [for me], we just came out and we wanted to show everyone, all our homes fans and families, how we play the game and how we're supposed to play the game," Arrizurieta said. "So we played hard, we played with heart, it was a full team effort and that's what we came out and did today."
In the bottom of the seventh, it was Arrizurieta who scored the walk-off run off a Sam Shanahan line drive to right field. But before the game winning play, it was heads up base running that got Arrizurieta to second base and into scoring position.
With Polk on first base, Arrizurieta went for the sacrifice bunt to advance her, but Indiana instead turned the play to second to get Polk out. As Polk was walking away, Arrizurieta noticed the shortstop look away, and she made her move, stealing second.
"The shortstop, she had just made a play at second, she started peeling off the bag and the pitcher wasn't paying attention so I just took the base and that's how we practice so that's how we're going to play," Arrizurieta said.
Arrizurieta, batting in the seven spot, wasn't the only player in the bottom half of the lineup to produce against the Hoosiers. Five of Penn State's six hits came from the six through nine hitters.
"My favorite part about today is, we always talk about it's a total team effort, and it was the bottom of our lineup that really allowed us to win," Lehotak said. "It just goes to show that Shelby Miller doesn't have to have all the pressure, KB [Kristina Brackpool] doesn't have to have all the pressure, you know anybody can step up at anytime, so I'm really proud of them."
Penn State will look to carry this momentum into a weekend series at Michigan State. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. on Friday and then 1 p.m. starts on both Saturday and Sunday.