By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Macy Jones was just looking for a good pitch to hit. It turns out that pitch was one she would deposit over the wall. Penn State was down a run early on Sunday against Hofstra, but Jones crushed a two-run home in the third inning run to put State up 5-2, a lead they would never relinquish.
The Nittany Lions won the game 10-2 in five innings, improving to 10-13 on the year. Yet Jones, who homered in two of the three games in the home stand, was modest after the game when talking about going yard.
"I just did my best and it went over," she said.
After losing both games of a doubleheader on Saturday, the offense was clicking Sunday afternoon. Head coach Amanda Lehotak decided to try a new tactic with the pitchers which helped result in a victory. Lehotak had a new pitcher in the circle each inning, and that helped keep the Pride on their toes. Jones was a big fan of the strategy.
"I love it. I hope we do it a lot more, with such a big pitching staff, 6 pitchers is kind of unheard of in softball, that can all throw solid innings, so I think if we use all of us like we did today it's going to be really good."
"As a hitter you want to see a pitcher multiple times so you can get used to seeing what they're throwing, so it really throws the other team off," Jones added.
A big key for Penn State Sunday was the ability to put the ball in play, especially late in counts. In the 4th inning, an error and two hits loaded the bases. Lexi Knief then singled with the bases loaded, knocking in two runs, and a fielding error on her hit brought home a third PSU score. Putting the ball in play put pressure on the Hofstra defense.
"Sometimes you just have to put the ball in play especially with two strikes. You'll hear our kids say two for you, one for us, meaning just make them make a play, make them catch-throw-catch, and today it worked in our favor," said Lehotak.
Jones believes in the importance of forcing the opponent to make plays with their gloves.
"It's really important, especially if its on the ground, because they bobbled the ball a lot when we put it on the ground and that allowed us to score a lot more runs. That's a big part of what we try to work on."
Of course, playing at Beard Field helps out as well as the Blue and White try and find their footing early on in the season.
"It's so much better just for travel. That was probably one of the most energetic, best, athletic day that we had on a Sunday all year because Sundays are a grind. It's hard to win on Sundays. That's why we call it championship Sundays because it's all mental, but for our kids to sleep in their own beds for a week and not have to worry about flying and packing again it was pretty amazing," said Lehotak.
After playing three games in two days, Penn State will have the luxury of having Monday off, something that is mandatory in the NCAA. Tuesday will be a preparation day for Robert Morris, who comes to State College for a doubleheader on Wednesday. Thursday will be a hitting day in practice, and then the team will hit the road to play a weekend series against Rutgers. Conference play will take over for the rest of the season, as it is "go-time" in the Big Ten for Lehotak's squad from here on out.