Lions Fall Short in Big Ten Opener vs. Purdue
March 21, 2014
The Nittany Lions (6-16, 0-1 Big Ten) will host the Boilermakers (14-16-1, 1-0 Big Ten) again on Saturday for a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.
Hatfield and Habitz posted two hits apiece with each notching a double and a single. Hatfield now has eight doubles on the season, tying her previous career-best mark from 2012, while Habitz has registered four. Freshman Shelby Miller (Sugar Land, Texas) turned in her first collegiate triple against the Boilers and crossed the plate for the third time this season.
Purdue pitcher Lilly Fecho (11-8) earned the victory, striking out five Nittany Lions and allowing just two earned runs in her 17th complete game of the year. Tori Chiodo set the pace for the Boilermakers' offense, going 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, a home run and six RBI.
Penn State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first frame as Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) scored her 20th run of the season. The leadoff hitter drew a walk and recorded her first steal of the year to move to second. A Habitz double to left field sent Knief home and gave the Lions their only lead of the game.
Purdue responded with a pair of runs in the top of the second to gain a 2-1 advantage. Andie Varsho put the Boilers on the board, knocking a homer to center field to bring in Katy McJunkin, who was walked earlier. The home run was the first of the season for Varsho.
The Boilermakers charged ahead in the fourth, adding four more runs. Varsho collected another RBI with a single to center as she sent Mary Gooding across the plate. A three-run homer from Chiodo was up next for Purdue as the senior blasted the ball over the center field wall, driving in Varsho, Paris Andrew and Danielle Fletcher.
Miller gave the Blue and White a promising start in the bottom half of the fourth, leading off with her triple to center field. Rookie Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.) sent Miller home on the next at-bat, serving up a sac fly to center to bring the count to 6-2. The Lions did not gain much momentum from the added run, however, as the following two hitters were retired on a groundout and a strikeout.
The score remained unchanged until another four-run performance from Purdue in the top of the seventh extended the Boilermakers' lead to 10-2. Chiodo brought her RBI total to six with her third double of the year, a shot to left field that sent Lindsey Rains, Varsho and McJunkin home. Fletcher followed up with another double, ripping the ball down the left line to score Chiodo.
Penn State looked to rally in the final frame, starting with a Knief single to second base after PSU's first two hitters went down. The sophomore was advanced by a single from Hatfield and moved to third on a throwing error by Purdue's Gooding. Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) stepped up to the plate next and was able to deliver, reaching first on a bunt and driving in Knief for the Lions' third run. Habitz added another single to load up the bases but Penn State was not able to capitalize as Fecho threw her final strikeout to retire Miller and give the Boilermakers a 10-3 win.
The Nittany Lions remain ahead in the all-time series vs. Purdue with a slight 23-22-1 advantage. Penn State is now 8-15 in Big Ten openers, 1-3 in home openers at Nittany Lion Softball Park and 31-17 all-time in home openers.