By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (19-16, 2-4) continued their hot streak, sweeping Bucknell (19-14, 1-2) in a Wednesday night doubleheader.
Penn State got off to a slow start in game one, but the bats finally caught fire in the seventh inning. Trailing 8-4 entering the bottom half of the seventh, the Lions put together an impressive rally featuring a grand slam by Alyssa VanDerveer to tie the game followed by a walk-off pinch-hit single courtesy of Kristina Brackpool to win the game, 9-8.
"We're the cardiac kids," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "We're definitely giving the season ticket holders a show. I loved the maturity we showed in game one."
VanDerveer shined once again for the Lions, going 3-3 in the contest with five RBIs, stretching her hitting streak to eight games. She is now batting .290 on the year, .078 higher than where she was just 22 days ago on March 10. Her grand slam gives her seven home runs on the year, including her fourth dinger in the last eight games.
"I was just trying to drive someone in, even if it was one run. I was looking for a pitch to hit, but even if I just hit a deep fly ball that was going to do the job," VanDerveer said. "It was a memorable experience."
Kristina Brackpool, the hero of game one, came up huge for the Nittany Lions after missing the past three games. With her first swing of the night she propelled Penn State to a thrilling victory.
"My approach in the box is do whatever I can do to help the team," said Brackpool. "I try to have the same approach every single at-bat. In that situation I knew a base hit would score the runner."
Shelby Miller and Macy Jones were major contributors in game one as well, scoring two runs each and both recording multi-hit games to raise their batting averages well over .300. Jones also threw five solid innings to pick up the win.
Penn State's momentum clearly carried over to game two, notching five runs in each of the first two innings to cruise to a 13-1 win in five innings.
"We had a much better game two, Lehotak said. "It was good to see us come out to a fast start in the second game. We have to stop starting slow."
Brackpool continued where she left off in game one, smacking three hits including a grand slam of her own in the second inning. Her six RBI's in the doubleheader gives her a team-leading 24 this season. She is now batting .354 on the year.
Shelby Miller added another multi-hit game while knocking in three runs and scoring two. She now has herself a seven game hit streak. Freshman Mollie Sorenson also broke out for three hits and three runs in game two. Sorenson has moved up and down in the lineup all year, but she may have found her niche in the two-hole.
"She had a great series against Michigan State. I think you're starting to see her come around," said Lehotak. "She made a couple adjustments with her hands and her footwork and ever since she's done that she's been on fire."
On the mound, Jessica Cummings was untouchable in game two. In five innings, Cummings surrendered just one run on two hits. She added five strikeouts in a masterful performance for the Nittany Lions.
"Whether we're down by 13 or up by 13 it's my job to throw strikes, get ground balls and give our defense a chance to make plays," Cummings said. "I think it's really important to keep the same mindset. We have a plan going into every game and it's always get ahead and get ground balls.
The sweep added two wins to an already-dominating 26-5 record over the Bison dating back to 1966. Penn State has now won six out of its last seven contests, and hopes to stay hot in chilly Madison, Wisc. in a weekend series against the Badgers.