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March 15, 2014
Clearwater, Fla.. Eddie C. Moore Complez
CLEARWATER, Fla.; March 14, 2014 - The Penn State softball team dropped a pair of close decisions on Friday evening, falling to Rutgers, 4-3, and Central Connecticut State, 1-0, in the opening day of the Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament. Sophomores Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) and Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) led the way for the Lions offensively with three hits apiece.
The Nittany Lions (5-13) move to 22-20 in the all-time series vs. the Scarlet Knights and are now 0-2 vs. the Blue Devils.
RUTGERS 4, PENN STATE 3
Although they controlled the momentum for nearly half of the game, the Nittany Lions (5-12) were unable to pull out a win as they were edged by Rutgers, 4-3, at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. Knief went 2-for-4 at the plate while Habitz put together a 2-for-3 performance against the Scarlet Knights (6-7).
Knief got the Blue and White off to a great start, ripping her second triple of the season to right center for the first hit of the contest. Senior Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) followed with a single to send in Knief and put PSU up 1-0. Habitz added another single before Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) and Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.) were retired.
Neither team crossed the plate again until RU notched the equalizer in the bottom of the fourth. Jackie Bates singled through the left side to register the Knight's first hit of the day, Chandler Howard sent Bates to second with a sacrifice bunt to PSU third baseman Sam Shanahan (Seattle, Wash.) and Melissa Slowinski reached on a fielder's choice. Bates tied the game up at 1-1 on a first and third opportunity, crossing the plate as Melissa Slowinski attempted to steal second but was caught in a run-down.
Knief tallied another hit in the following inning, punching a single to second base and Hatfield added another single to right field. Habitz reached first after getting hit by a pitch and loaded up the bases in the process. Rutgers' Alyssa Landrith walked Jones in the next at-bat, sending Knief home and giving the Lions a 2-1 advantage.
The Knights responded with two runs in the bottom half of the fifth. Jordan Whitley reached first on an error by Shelby Miller (Sugar Land, Texas) and RU's Loren Williams crushed a two-run homer over left center to put the count at 3-2.
Penn State failed to get on the board in the sixth and Rutgers pulled further ahead with an additional run. A Slowinski single to center field pushed Whitley across the plate and gave the Scarlet Knights a 4-2 lead.
The Nittany Lions added one more run in the final frame. Knief headed to first after an error by RU's first baseman and advanced on a ground out by Hatfield. Habitz posted her third double of the season to drive in Knief and give the Lions their third run of the game. It was not enough, however, as Jones struck out in the next at-bat to close the game at 4-3.
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE 1, PENN STATE 0
It was a defensive battle in the second contest of the day as Penn State (5-13) lost to Central Connecticut State (6-3) in a 1-0 decision. The shutout is just the second scoreless outing for the Lions this season.
Both teams struggled to produce on the offensive end, which resulted in a scoreless game through the first six and a half innings. CCSU posted the first and only run of the contest in the bottom of the sixth.
Sophomore Kenya McVey led off with a single to left center to set the stage for the Blue Devils. Katie Schmidt, who entered to pinch run for McVey, advanced to second on a ground out from Hannah Cooper and moved to third on a Sarah Drazin single to first base. Arielle Bruno drove in the lone run of the game on a ground out to second base, scoring Schmidt and putting the count at 1-0.
The Lions were unable to turn things around in the final inning and fell to CCSU by a final of 1-0.
Penn State returns to the field on Saturday to face Wagner and Yale in the second day of the Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament. The Lions are slated to face the Seahawks at 9:30 a.m. before taking on the Bulldogs in an 11:45 a.m. matchup.