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Softball Splits with Virginia Tech, USF

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Lauren Yao went 5-for-5 on Friday.

March 9, 2012

Penn State 8, Virginia Tech 7 (8 inn.)  | USF 7, Penn State 0  |  Photo Gallery 

TAMPA, Fla. - The Penn State softball team split its two games on Friday to open the USF Under Armour Showcase, defeating Virginia Tech, 8-7, in eight innings before dropping a 7-0 contest to South Florida. Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) had a standout day going a perfect 5-for-5 day with two RBI and a run scored.

Penn State leapt out to a 6-1 run and was cruising to victory before a big Virginia Tech rally sent the game to extra innings. The Nittany Lions prevailed on an RBI single by Alyssa Renwick's (Laurens, S.C.) third hit of the day in the eighth inning. Renwick went 3-for-4, matching her career-high for hits in a day after a three-hit afternoon against Miami (Ohio) on Wednesday.

The Nittany Lions (7-9) loaded the bases in the first and cashed in on a Yao single down the leftfield line, scoring Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) and Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.). Penn State would leave two on base as the Lions scored in the opening inning for the fifth time in the last seven games. Sovereign led the game off with a single, extending her career-best nine-game hitting streak.

Virginia Tech (13-7) scratched back a run in the bottom of the second when Betty Rose singled home scoring Kristen Froehlich. Following an error, Marissa Diescher (Livingston Manor, N.Y.) caught Dani Anderson looking at strike three to end the threat. Diescher threw 5.2 innings of three-hit ball as she allowed four earned runs on six walks with four strikeouts.

After a scoreless fourth, Penn State unloaded on Hokie hurler Baily Liddle in the fifth. The Nittany Lions loaded the bases with two outs as Johnson ripped a three-run double to deep centerfield to make it a 5-1 lead. Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) started the rally with a one-out single and advanced to second on a grounder. Sovereign walked and Renwick singled to set up Johnson's double.

Penn State added to its lead in the top of the sixth when Akamine walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Rachel Myers (Millheim, Pa.) at first with no outs. During Shannon Hutchinson's (Sewell, N.J.) at-bat, Hokie pitcher Isabella Corrao threw a wild pitch in the dirt and Rose threw the ball wildly into centerfield as it rolled to the wall, scoring Myers for a 6-1 lead.

Virginia Tech rallied in the bottom of the sixth with three runs, two on a double by Logan Spaw and another on a single by Rose as PSU took a 6-4 lead into the seventh. There, Penn State scored an unearned run when third baseman Kelsey Mericka threw the ball away on Kasie Hatfield's (Tampa, Fla.) infield single to push Yao home.

Down 7-4, the Hokies were one big swing away from tying the game. With one away and runners on first and second, Kristen Froehlich belted a long fly ball down the leftfield line that snuck just inside the foul pole to tie the game at seven.

After Renwick drove home Hutchinson in the eight, Penn State's defense held the Hokies at bay. On a sacrifice attempt by Rose, Presto nearly made a great play on the popup, but Rose was declared out on interference. With a runner already placed on second, Renwick fielded a hard grounder and faked to first and tag out the lead runner at second to make it two outs before Akamine got the final out of the game on a liner to rightfield for the 8-7 win.

Akamine earned her fifth win of the victory with 2.1 innings of work, allowing two runs, one hit and two walks. She also had one strikeout on the day. Akamine scored twice on the base paths with a 1-for-3 day.

The University of South Florida (16-4), ranked 25th by USA Softball, tallied a 7-0 win over Penn State (7-10) on Friday evening. Yao went 3-for-3 at the plate, while Hutchinson had a 2-for-3 effort as PSU's seven hits weren't enough.

Akamine took the ball in the circle against a potent and speedy Bulls lineup. USF loaded the bases in the bottom of the first as a two-out single to right scored one, but Myers gunned down Kourney Salvarola at home for the final out.

Penn State tried to even the game in the third as Hutchinson advanced to third on a single and her team-leading seventh stolen base of the season. She was stranded on second after USF lefty Sara Nevins (7-2) induced a grounder and a strikeout.

The Bulls stretched the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third when Stephanie Medina lifted a three-run homer over the left-centerfield wall. Akamine (5-6) finished her day in the third going three full with eight hits, six runs and four walks allowed, while striking out three.

Penn State's best chance to score came in the fourth when the Lions tried to mount a two-out rally. Yao's infield single coupled with Jordan Wheatley's (Troy, Mich.) single led to a throwing error by the Bulls, putting runners on second and third. Nevins wiggled out of the jam with a hard grounder to third to quell the Nittany Lions, who left six on base.

Wheatley, who came on in relief of Akamine, faced the heart of the USF lineup in the bottom of the fourth. Medina again came to the plate with two Bulls on the basepaths and struck her second three-run homer of the afternoon to cap a 2-for-2 day with two walks and six RBI.

Penn State continues its USF Under Armour Showcase run on Saturday against Central Connecticut State (11:30 a.m.) and USC Upstate (2:00 p.m.) at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla.




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