Pitching and Clutch Hitting Pave Way to Softball Sweep of Florida Gulf Coast, 4-2, and Boston College, 2-1
March 14, 2010
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Penn State softball team again put together another fine performance in the pitching circle and in the field in downing Florida Gulf Coast, 4-2, and Boston College, 2-1, on Sunday morning at the USF Under Armour Showcase. Penn State went 4-0 over the two-day tournament, which included a thrilling comeback win over Boston College in the late innings.
In Game One vs. Florida Gulf Coast (11-14), Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) was called upon to be Penn State's starting pitcher for the fourth straight game. After her 14-inning gem a night before, Hill returned just 12 hours later, allowing a walk and a homer to start the game, putting Penn State (17-7) in a 2-0 hole. From there she would cruise, retiring the next 11 batters in order and only allowing a single walk in the next 16 batters she would face.
Penn State would get on the board in the third inning, returning to its two-out runs that had been a staple of the team's effort earlier in the season. Danee Collett (Orange, Calif.) led the inning with a walk and was pinch run for at first by Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.). Morgan Long (Oro Valley, Ariz.) laid down a sacrifice to move Hutchinson to second and she would eventually advance to third on a passed ball. With Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) at the plate, a wild pitch brought Hutchinson home to cut the FGCU lead in half at 2-1.
With the bases empty, Griffith laid down a perfectly executed bunt to reach first successfully. Hill walked and a Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) single up the middle brought Griffith home to knot the score at two apiece. Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) lofted a high fly to right field but it was caught at the fence to quell the Penn State rally.
In the sixth inning, the bats came through again for Penn State when Johnson reached on a single to centerfield. Danielle Noll (Bald Eagle, Pa.) came into pinch run for Johnson and Lauren Rossi (Yardley, Pa.) sacrificed her over to second. Desi Giordano (West Caldwell, N.J.) blooped a single to left and Noll got to third on the play with just one out. Collett crushed a 0-1 pitch to right center scoring Noll and Giordano for the deciding runs for Penn State. Hill closed out the seventh with three straight strikeouts, cementing another complete game win, her fourth in a row and 21st inning in 12 hours.
In Game Two vs. Boston College (7-9), Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) took the ball in the circle, but gave up a home run on the third pitch of the game to Brittany Wilkins for an early 1-0 BC lead. After that Akamine would calm down, retiring the Eagles in order in the second and fourth innings. Akamine didn't allow another run the rest of the game, nearly going the distance with five hits allowed and eight strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
Penn State's chances seemed to be running out until the sixth inning when the Nittany Lions scrapped their way to a rally. Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) beat out a grounder to short for an infield single and Griffith bunted her way on safely for a two-on, no out situation. Nicole D'Argento, who went five full innings with two hits against, was responsible for Renwick getting on base, giving way to Taylor Peyton.
Peyton got Hill to strike out on a high 2-2 pitch, bringing up Bell with one out. Bell hit a chopper to second that caught the second baseman Renee Ramos the wrong way allowing Bell to reach safely, loading the bases. Johnson grounded to first and it looked as though Peyton would get out of the inning. Rossi had other thoughts as she lofted a 2-0 pitch high into shallow centerfield between the shortstop, centerfielder and Ramos, falling off Ramos's glove scoring Renwick and Griffith for a two-RBI double.
Akamine got two outs in the seventh sandwiched around a D'Argento single to center and Hill came in to record her second save of the year when she got Wilkins to pop out to short. The Lions shelled out five hits, matching the Eagles while leaving four on. BC left six on in the game.
For the weekend, Hill pitched 21.1 of the Lions' 28 innings, allowing just eight hits, two runs, eight walks and striking out 25. Hill went 3-0 with a save with a 0.66 ERA in four appearances, holding opposing batters to .113. The win over FGCU also moved Hill to 10-4 on the season.
The Nittany Lions secured at least a share of top honors at the USF Under Armour Showcase with a perfect 4-0 record over the two days. Penn State is off to its best start at 17-7 since the team went 18-3 to start the 2006 season. The Nittany Lions are off for a 10-day stretch before hosting their first home opener, a doubleheader against local rival Saint Francis on Wednesday, Mar. 24 at 6 p.m. Both games will be will be streamed with live stats on GameTracker as well as commentary through Twitter (@PSULionSoftball).