By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After Friday's game against Indiana was rained out, the Nittany Lions played a doubleheader on Saturday. After losing the first game 6-1, the Blue & White picked up its first win in conference play in the latter game, 3-2. Here are some thoughts and takeaways after a full day of softball at Beard Field:
Defense, Defense, Defense
The Lions did their part when in the field - the team committed no errors, and had a slew of nice plays. It began in the first when Kristina Brackpool made a nice pick at first base. She made another nice stretch to beat the runner to the bag, helping the team get out of a jam in the third frame. A sliding grab by Sam Shanahan in right field saved at least one run in the seventh.
Shelby Miller Stays Hot
Miller finished the contest 1-2 with a single, a walk and an RBI sacrifice fly. The sac-fly finished off what would be a well-manufactured run by the Blue & White - Toni Polk doubled and stole third, and Miller did the rest, flying out to deep right center.
Tori Dubois put a charge into a ball in the fourth inning, hitting it over the centerfielder's head and driving in Rebecca Ziegler to put the Lions on top 1-0. With two outs, Polk achieved one of the goals head coach Amanda Lehotak has been stressing all season: getting the clutch hit in a pressure situation.
Small Ball Gets the Job Done
Still in the fourth inning, second baseman Mollie Sorenson wisely got caught in a rundown between first and second base, giving Dubois time to cross home. That run gave Penn State a cushion with a 2-0 lead.
Twice as Nice
Penn State managed to turn two double plays in the game. The first was a 6-4-3 double play fielded by shortstop Toni Polk. The second was a line drive caught by Sorenson who fired to first to get the second out.
Madey Smith Spins a Gem; Laubach Has Ice in Her Veins
The freshman Smith continued her dominance on the mound, striking out four and hurling a shutout until the seventh inning, when Indiana managed to plate two runs. She exited with runners on second and third and no outs, and the team turned to senior leader Marlaina Laubach to save the game, up just one run. After a fly out, a groundout and another fly out, Laubach was the hero, and preserved a Nittany Lion victory after stranding two runners in scoring position.
Head coach Amanda Lehotak has complete faith in Marlaina.
"That's why we put her in that position," Lehotak said. "She's been our ace for four years and she's been our attacker for four years"
Laubach is used to the high-pressure situations and knows how to manage her emotions.
"I'm coming into a situation that already has its own energy so I need to adapt myself to that particular moment," said Laubach.
The rubber game of the three-game set against Indiana concludes Sunday starting at 1:00 p.m. After wrapping up the first home series of the season, Penn State heads to East Lansing to take on Michigan State for a weekend series. Friday's game begins at 4 p.m., while first pitch for Saturday and Sunday's games are set for 1 p.m.