By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State softball team split its doubleheader with Saint
Francis University Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions dropped game one 5-4 then
rebounded with a resounding 14-2 (5) victory in game two.
gloomy skies and scattered showers threatened to shorten the night, but a
little water wasn't enough to stop the two Commonwealth foes from completing
both contests. The mixture of rain, wind, and chilly temperatures usually goes
great with some defensive mishaps, but the stout PSU group only committed one
error on the night.
game one, Jessica Cummings pitched a fantastic game in the wet conditions. The
freshman completed all seven innings while allowing only six hits and notching
five strikeouts, but the Red Flash were able to push across five runs in the
"I'm very happy with
Jess. I think they only had really two hard hits the whole game," said head coach
Amanda Lehotak. "She has had a bit of bit luck. We call her the bloop queen. We
haven't really played well behind her either, but she keeps getting better and
better. If she's going to pitch her best ball, now's the time to do it."
Offensively, the Nittany
Lions stalled a bit against three SFU hurlers. The team totaled five hits in
the game, but they saw productions across the lineup as four different Nittany
Lions recorded an RBI. Sophomore Shelby Miller continued her offensive
onslaught with two of PSU's five base knocks. She has now risen her batting
average to .355 on the year.
Penn State had a
chance in the bottom of the seventh, but the late rally ran out of gas. After a
pair of one out walks with the bases loaded, the Nittany Lions found themselves
within one run with the powerful Kristina Brackpool coming to the plate.
Brackpool, who leads the team in RBIs, put together a solid at-bat and fouled
off pitch after pitch until finally popping up to end the game. She did,
however, smack a double earlier in the game and added another RBI to give her
42 on the season.
"She's the one we
wanted in that position," Lehotak said. "She's a deep ball threat and a tough
out. We want a big hit from her every game and everything beyond that is a
The hits and runs that
eluded Penn State's sticks in game one came out to play in game two. The Blue
and White scored five in the third and nine in the fourth to put away the Red
Flash. The 14 runs scored were the second most scored in one game this season
for the Nittany Lions. The team hasn't amounted that many runs or finished off
a team in five innings since April 4.
Macy Jones was the
star for PSU at the plate and in the circle in game two. The junior threw all
five innings while allowing one earned run and six hits. The win brings her to
7-3 on the year as her performance lowered her ERA to a team best 3.00. Just to
add to her dominance, Jones slugged a no-doubter to right field in the third
inning to give her 10 dingers this year. She totaled three RBIs and scored two
more runs in the throttling of SFU.
VanDerveer also added to her homerun total with a long ball in the third inning
a few pitches after Jones smacked hers. She leads the team with 12. Lexi Knief
and Kristina Brackpool contributed multi-hit games in the offensive show.
"It's a lot of fun,"
said Brackpool. "Scoring a lot on offense is the most fun you can have. The
first game we struggled a little bit but the second game we came out and our
hits came together."
"The first game I feel
like we were really pressing," Jones said. "We felt like we should beat them so
it made us not play our game. The second game we tried to focus on giving a lot
of effort and playing our game and our style. The outcome obviously showed that
that's what we need to keep doing."
Next Up: Rutgers
Penn State will play
its final home series of 2015 this weekend against the Scarlet Knights. The
eventful weekend includes Bark at the Park on Friday, Senior Day on Saturday,
and the Pink Zone game on Sunday. It will be a fun-filled weekend, but the
Nittany Lions have some work to do in the series as the end of the B1G season
is rapidly approaching.
Rutgers comes into the
weekend sitting at sixth place in the conference and winning six of their past
eight contests. The Scarlet Knights feature seven hitters above .300, led by
senior outfielder Jackie Bates who sports a .389 average. Bates also leads the
team in RBIs (44), homeruns (16), slugging (.905), and runs (48). Her 16 homers
is second best in the conference and her 48 runs scored is good for fifth in
On the hill, RU boasts
a powerful lefty in Alyssa Landrith. The senior is 14-8 on the year with a 3.19
ERA and 116 strikeouts. Besides Landrith, the Scarlet Knights aren't too scary
in the circle, so getting to her early and driving her out of the game should
be the goal of the PSU offense.
"The series this
weekend is really important," Jones said. "It's our senior weekend so we really
want to play for the seniors and get a good outcome for them. They're beatable
so we just want to just play our game and take this momentum to the weekend."
"Rutgers is really
good," said Lehotak. "I think they have seven hitters hitting over .300. I
think it could be a couple of high scoring games because we're two very similar
teams. Their pitching staff is giving up a lot of runs but they score a lot of
Penn State currently
sits at 11th place in the B1G, but a series win could vault them
right back in contention for a playoff spot. Adversely, getting swept or losing
the series might put the Nittany Lions in too big a hole. It's fair to say this
will be the most important series for PSU so far this season.