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March 8, 2013
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Penn State softball dropped a pair of contests on the first day of the 2013 South Florida Under Armour Showcase as the sun set Friday evening. The Nittany Lions (4-11) held leads against both Loyola Marymount (8-10) and Western Michigan (7-12), but could not hold off the teams in 4-2 and 9-8 losses, respectively.
Penn State returns to action at 4:45 p.m. Saturday against Toledo before taking on Maine in the following game at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The Nittany Lions finish the Showcase at 11:15 a.m. against South Carolina. All three contests are set to be played on field one of the Moore complex.
In the first game against Loyola Marymount, Marissa Diescher (Livingston Manor, N.Y.) threw 5.0 innings for Penn State while allowing just three earned runs. Back-to-back one-run frames gave Penn State a 2-0 lead heading to the bottom of the fourth before Loyola scored four over the final three innings to take the win. Sydney Gouveia earned the victory for the Lions with six hits and two earned runs given up over the complete-game effort while racking up nine strikeouts.
Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) opened the scoring in the top of the first, sending a solo home run, her eighth of the season, over the left field fence with two outs to put the Nittany Lions up, 1-0. Penn State added its second run after Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) singled, reached second on Reina Furuya's (Waipahu, Hawaii) walk and scored on Macy Jones' (Ashburn, Va.) single up the middle.
Diescher did not allow a hit until LMU's Olivia Alvarez belted a home run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the PSU lead to 2-1. Loyola loaded the bags in the same inning before Diescher hauled in a grounder back to her and fired to Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) at first to end the threat.
Penn State put the first three runners on base in the top of the fifth after Jones and Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) were hit by pitches and Renwick reached on a bunt, but the team could not advance anyone across to build its lead. Loyola knotted the score at two apiece in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of a pair of walks and a fielding error. The squad posted its final two runs in the following trip to the plate in the sixth after producing three singles and drawing two walks.
The story was similar in the following contest with Western Michigan. The Lions again opened up an early lead with two runs in the top of the first. After Alicia Walker (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Bell reached base from being hit by a pitch and walked, respectively, Yao sent a two-out double off the wall in left to score them both.
Penn State added another pair in the top of the third. Bell took first on a walk to open the inning before Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) singled and was replaced by Maegan Tupinio (Wahiawa, Hawaii) on the basepaths. With Yao at the plate, the duo completed a double steal and Bell crossed the plate after WMU catcher Christina Pigozzi threw behind third baseman Diana Patterson and sent the ball into shallow left field. Tupinio scored later in the inning after Hatfield reached base on a dropped ball by Bronco first baseman Loren Nagy.
Western Michigan responded in force in the bottom of the third, putting up six runs on three hits, three walks and one hit batter to take a 6-4 lead. The Blue and White bounced back immediately, however, reclaiming the lead with a four-spot in the fourth. A leadoff single from Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) followed by a single up the middle from Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) and a walk for Walker loaded the bags for Bell to pick up an RBI with a walk. Yao brought three runs home two batters later, launching a ball to the wall in center field for a bases-clearing double.
The eight runs were not enough for Penn State as the Broncos rallied in the bottom of the seventh to take the decision. Melissa Palmer reached first on an error before Sabrina Gamboa lined a ball just fair inside the left line to triple and score the first run. Nagy reached on another PSU error, scoring Gamboa. With Colleen Lynch running for Nagy, Patterson laid a sacrifice bunt down to advance the runner to second and then to third on a passed ball in the following at-bat. A hard hit by Mackenzie Shepeck at Renwick gave enough time for Lynch to make the final trek from third to home to earn the walk-off win for Western Michigan.
WMU's Becca Shemberger (4-5) earned the win with 14 strikeouts in the complete game while allowing seven earned runs on eight hits. Wheatley (1-2) picked up the loss after 5.2 innings of work saw her allow four earned runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking one.
Yao finished 4-5 (.800) at the plate with two doubles, a walk and five RBI in the doubleheader. Renwick also added four hits (4-8) while Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.) posted two singles. Bell produced a pair of RBI and Jones notched one in her lone at-bat of the day.