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March 3, 2013
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A seven-run fourth inning proved costly as Penn State dropped a 9-8 decision to Longwood Sunday afternoon at the Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. After surrendering their four-run lead, the Nittany Lions (3-8, 0-0 Big Ten) tied the game in the sixth before a two-run frame in the bottom of the sixth gave the Lancers (9-4) the victory.
The Blue and White have Monday off before playing one against Central Michigan and Loyola (Chicago) Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, in Clearwater, Fla. The squad caps off the spring break trip at the Under Armour Showcase hosted by South Florida Friday through Sunday.
Junior Jordan Wheatley (Troy, Mich.) and Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) (3-4) combined for 6.0 innings from the rubber for Penn State. Wheatley allowed seven runs over 3.1 while striking out three and Jones gave up two hits and a pair of runs in 2.2 innings with one K. Longwood hurler Brooke Short (7-3) picked up the win after a complete-game effort saw her allow six earned runs on nine hits.
Freshman Taylor Abeyta (San Diego, Calif.) gave the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead in the second inning when she picked up her first home run of the season, scoring junior Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) and freshman Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.). Hatfield reached base on a two-out single to right field before Knief drew a walk in the following at-bat to set up the three-run blast from Abeyta.
An error by the Lancer defense helped Penn State add another run in the third. Senior Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) beat out a throw from Longwood third baseman Jordan Cox to reach first and then advanced all the way to third on classmate Lauren Yao's (Los Angeles, Calif.) sacrifice bunt down the left line. Senior Cassidy Bell's (Bakersfield, Calif.) sacrifice fly attempt fell short to left field in the following at-bat, but a dropped throw by the Cox that dribbled to shallow left field allowed Renwick to reach home safely.
Longwood flipped the script in the bottom of the fourth with seven runs, beginning with Emily Murphy's solo home run to right field to lead off the frame. A double by Cox, a single from Carly Adams and a walk for Chelsea Sciacca loaded the bags for Katie Shinrock's RBI single back at Wheatley before Megan Baltzell sailed a ball just over the fence in center to notch a grand slam and give the Lancers a 7-4 advantage.
The Penn State bats kept swinging and evened the score in the top of the sixth. Bell opened the rally with a single up the middle before Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) doubled to right center to bring Bell home and cut the Longwood lead to two runs. With Maegan Tupinio (Wahiawa, Hawaii) running for Habitz, Jones singled through the right side to score Tupinio before advancing to second. After a muffed catch advanced Jones to third base, Knief's fly ball to left field turned around outfield Kori Nishitomi and landed for a double to give the freshman third baseman her first RBI as a Nittany Lion.
The Lancers regained momentum and reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth as Baltzell launched a one-out, two-run home run to bring home Shinrock. The Nittany Lions pressured Longwood in the final frame but fell one run short, as Bell singled and stole second before Habitz again brought the senior home, this time on a single to right field.
With her single in the sixth, Bell has now hit safely in 22-consecutive contests. She continued her mastery at the plate at the Citrus Classic, recording five RBI with two home runs, a pair of doubles, seven hits and a stolen base over the four games while batting .583 (7-12). Abeyta followed with three RBI on two hits, while Habitz and Hatfield both produced two RBI. Jones and Knief added one apiece. Ten Nittany Lions recorded hits at the tournament, including eight with multiple-hit efforts. Habitz nabbed her second multi-hit game of the season with a double and single against the Lancers. She produced the same in a 9-8 win over Iowa State Feb. 24.