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Feb. 11, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. - Penn State softball exploded for five runs in the fifth inning to come back and defeat No. 22 LSU, 5-3, on a foggy Friday night at Tiger Field in front of 1,073. PSU used a two-out rally capped with a bases-clearing double by Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) that proved to be the difference and give Penn State its third straight season opening victory.
"That is a great way to start off the season," Head coach Robin Petrini said. "I'm proud with how we fought against an extremely good pitcher [LSU's Brittany Mack]. Now we have to get out there and do it again tomorrow."
With the Tigers (0-1) leading 1-0, Penn State (1-0) put together an impressive two-out rally in the fifth inning started by a Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) hit-by-pitch followed by a Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) single down the leftfield line. Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) walked to load the bases and Danee Collett (Rogersville, Tenn.) was plunked to tie the game at one. Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) walked on a full count to put the Nittany Lions ahead, 2-1. Hatfield ripped a double to right-centerfield clearing the bases and giving Penn State a 5-1 lead.
The three-run hit set a new career-high with three RBI in a game. Additionally, the five runs in the inning were the most since PSU poured six against Northwestern in the fifth inning on May 13, 2011.
LSU returned the favor in part the following half as Ashley Langoni hit a high arching fly ball that snuck over the fence past the outstretched glove of Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.) next to the leftfield foul pole for a one-out homer. Akamine would escape the rest of the inning unscathed, leaving a runner on first after a single.
LSU would tack on another in the seventh, but could get no closer at Akamine won her first season-opener of her career, going all seven innings with three strikeouts and allowing just five hits. PSU totaled four hits with Bell, Akamine and Collett notching singles off Mack, the 2011 NFCA All-American. Mack set a career-high for strikeouts in a seven-inning game with 13, allowing five earned on four hits, three walks and three hit batters.
Earlier in the game, Penn State put its first runner in scoring position in the second inning when Collett punched the first hit of the year, a single to centerfield, to lead off the frame. Collett advanced to second on a wild pitch and with two outs, Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) earned first when she was plunked by Mack. PSU was unable to get Collett around the bases, ending the top of the second scoreless.
LSU responded in the bottom half with patient hitting to score its first run. Juliana Santos drove in a run with a four-pitch, two-out walk with the bases loaded to score Tammy Wray. Akamine would induce a weak grounder to third to end the Tiger encounter.
Penn State tried to muster another rally in the top of the third, again advancing a runner to second base as Bell singled past short and moved on a fielder's choice by Akamine. A laced liner by Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) would've brought Bell home but centerfielder Simone Heyward made the play to her right to save the inning as Mack wiggled out of the jam with a strikeout.
LSU looked to tack on some insurance runs in the fourth with a lead-off walk bringing in pinch-runner A.J. Andrews. On an attempted sacrifice bunt, Ashley Todd (Mill Creek, Wash.) rushed in from third to make a diving catch for the first out. After a strikeout, Hatfield gunned down Andrews stealing second to end the inning.
Penn State improved to 2-2 all-time against LSU, taking the last two games at Tiger Park. Both of those victories came when the Tigers were ranked (ninth, 2008; 22nd, 2012). It was also the first win over an SEC team for Penn State since that 2008 win over LSU.
The Nittany Lions return to action on Saturday morning as PSU takes Louisiana Tech at 11:00 a.m. ET then LSU at 4:00 p.m. ET. Penn State concludes the Tiger Classic on Sunday against Big Ten foe No. 15 Michigan at 11:00 a.m. ET. GoPSUsports.com will provide live stats through GameTracker. Updates can also be found on Twitter (@PSULionSoftball) and Facebook (PennStateSoftball).