Softball Walks Off With 3-2 Win over the Badgers
March 27, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Fans were treated to another exciting finish at Beard Field on Sunday as Alyssa Sovereign's (La Canada, Calif.) RBI single in the eighth inning capped a comeback victory over Wisconsin for Penn State softball. Centerfielder Cassidy Bell went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, including the game-tying run.
If Saturday's debut of Nittany Lion Softball Park could be topped, Sunday's game tried its best. While Sunday didn't feature the slugfest Saturday did, the Nittany Lions had to use two runs in the eighth inning to overcome the pesky Badgers (15-11, 0-2 Big Ten).
Penn State (15-11, 2-0 Big Ten) was down 2-1 entering the bottom of the eighth inning as Bell was walked with one out on the board. Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) hit a grounder to shortstop and the throw was in the dirt and dug out by UW's Michelle Mueller, but Mueller dropped the ball and Akamine was safe. That error would prove costly as Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) nearly brought home the tying run on a single through the left side, but Wisconsin's Stephanie Peace diving stop kept the ball in the infield and the bases loaded.
Danee Collett (Rogersville, Tenn.) strode to the plate and struck out for the second out in the inning, but the ball got past UW's catcher as Bell hustled home to knot the game at two apiece. A few pitches later, Sovereign ripped a single to left, her first hit of the game, to score pinch-runner Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.) and clinch the series sweep for Penn State.
The sweep was the first in a Big Ten opening series since the Nittany Lions pulled the same feat at home in 2007 against the very same Badgers. Penn State also improved to 16-2 all-time in Happy Valley against Wisconsin and 27-12 overall with a seven-game winning streak in the series.
The Nittany Lions got on the board much in the same manner as the inaugural opener as Bell doubled, her third of the series, and Johnson singled her home for a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Wisconsin fought back in the fourth inning when Akamine served up a homer to Karla Powell, who smashed Beard Field's first out-of-the-park home run over the scoreboard in left. On Saturday, Akamine recorded the facility's first homer, an inside-the-park feat in PSU's 8-5 victory.
Scoreless frames would ensure through the end of regulation before Wisconsin threatened again in the top of the eighth inning. Relief pitcher Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) hit a batter and walked two others with one out on the board to load the bases. Mueller hit a high fly ball to right and into foul territory as it was caught by Sovereign and Peace tagged up for a 2-1 Badger lead. Hill plunked the ensuing batter before she induced a weak fly ball to end the scoring opportunity.
Akamine started the game and allowed just the solo home run, the only Wisconsin hit of the day. Akamine finished without the decision going five innings with three walks and seven strikeouts. Hill earned the win with a three-inning, hitless performance, but was tagged with one earned run and three walks while striking out four.
Wisconsins's Cassandra Darrah went 7.2 innings of work picking up her second loss in as many starts, falling to 10-3 on the year. She allowed six Penn State hits, three by Johnson, while walking three and striking out six.
Penn State will have another ballpark to open on Tuesday as the Nittany Lions travel to Pittsburgh's Petersen Sports Complex on Tuesday for a 3:00 p.m. doubleheader. GoPSUsports.com will have live stats coverage through GameTracker as well as commentary and analysis on Twitter (www.twitter.com/PSULionSoftball).