By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions pushed across eight runs on 11 hits, defeating Big Ten opponent Michigan State Friday night in the first outing of this weekend's three-game series.
The Nittany Lions knew going in that they would likely be set for another back-and-forth, high-scoring outing with the Spartans. True to history though, Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak is proud of the fight she saw from the Nittany Lions.
"I liked how we held our emotions," Lehotak said. "I thought we had a lot of great answer innings. They scored right away, we bounced back right away. Both sides as you saw, historically, will throw different pitchers and I thought everybody kept their composure and did what they had to do.
Proud to see production from one through nine, Lehotak praised the Penn State hitting performance.
"Delaney [Elling] was excellent, Tori [Dubois] was excellent and Toni [Polk] was excellent, so a lot of good things today," Lehotak said.
Offense by the Outfield
Penn State was led offensively by its three outfielders in Dubois, Polk and freshman Dani Fey. The trio combined for a total of five hits and five RBIs, so they came up huge for the Nittany Lions at the dish. After allowing three runs in the opening frame, Polk's two run triple to right field gave Penn State a 4-3 lead in the first.
"It was huge," Lehotak said of Polk's big hit. "I think Toni's been a little frustrated lately so for her to have that and to be able to breathe a little bit was excellent. This is what Toni does. She was relaxed at the plate and looked calm. She had two huge at-bats for us tonight."
Dubois hit her sixth home run of the season as her long drive to left field in the fourth inning pushed the Penn State lead to 7-3.
"She's our best hitter and we wanted to get her a minimum of four at-bats but maybe five at-bats," Lehotak said. "We wanted to make them uncomfortable a little and make them pitch to her no matter what."
Dubois scored two runs as she set the table from the lead-off spot in the order.
"It's definitely different spot in the lineup but I liked leading off and providing a spark for the team," Dubois said. "I enjoyed leading off."
The right fielder Fey also had her share of success Friday, collecting an RBI on a base hit. Fey got on base twice from the eighth spot in the order, fueling the offense from the back end of the batting order.
Cummings Closes it Out
Despite being taken out of the game after the third inning with just three runs allowed, Cummings was once again called upon to pitch in the fifth inning with the game on the line. The senior from Maryland did not disappoint. She worked out of a jam with runners in scoring position to end the fifth and only gave up one run (unearned) in the final 2.2 innings she pitched in relief as she helped lead the Nittany Lions to victory in the circle.
The Nittany Lions and Spartans will conclude the series Saturday with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. at Beard Field.