Nittany Lions Top Spartans, 9-3, for First Big Ten Win
April 4, 2014
Four Nittany Lions recorded extra-base hits in the contest with doubles coming from Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) and Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.) while Jones and Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) added one triple apiece.
Freshman pitcher Marlaina Laubach (Northampton, Pa.) also had a big game, doling out a season-best tying six strikeouts en route to her sixth win of the year.
Penn State (8-22, 1-6 Big Ten) outhit the Spartans (8-22, 1-6 Big Ten) nine to seven and did not register a single error while MSU posted two miscues.
After a pair of scoreless innings, the Nittany Lions gained momentum in the top of the third, posting their first two runs of the game. Reina Furuya (Waipaihu, Hawaii) punched a single up the middle for PSU’s first hit and moved to second as Knief drew a walk. Hatfield followed with a triple to right field, sending Furuya and Knief home and giving Penn State a 2-0 lead.
The Blue and White extended their lead two frames later, adding two more runs in the top of the fifth. Knief opened the inning with a single to center field and moved to second as Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) walked. A Hatfield sac bunt in the next at-bat advanced both runners and set the stage for Jones. The sophomore ripped her third triple of the year deep to center field, driving in Knief and Sovereign to put the count at 4-0.
Penn State tacked on another run in the sixth, moving ahead 5-0 as Shelby Miller (Sugar Land, Texas) scored on an error by MSU’s shortstop.
The Spartans rallied in the bottom half of the inning, putting up three runs to cut the PSU lead to two. Shanin Thomas kicked things off with a single down the right field line and headed to third after Lindsey Beeson and Alyssa McBride drew walks. A Destinee Luna groundout to second base gave MSU its first run as Thomas crossed the plate. Stephanie Sanders came in to pinch hit with one out left in the frame and delivered for the Spartans, shooting a double to right field to send Beeson and McBride home.
The Nittany Lions squelched Michigan State’s rally efforts in their final turn at the dish, registering four runs in the top of the seventh. Jones led off with a single to center and reached second on a botched play by the MSU shortstop as Sam Shanahan (Seattle, Wash.) headed to first on a fielder’s choice. The error proved costly for the Spartans as Habitz stepped up to the plate and sent a double flying to right center to drive in Jones and send Shanahan to third. Brackpool followed with another double to score Shanahan and Habitz while Maegan Tupinio (Wahiawa, Hawaii), who pinch ran for Brackpool, added the final run for the Lions, scoring on a Knief single to left center.
Michigan State put two on base in its final attempt but was unable to bring the runners home, solidifying a 9-3 victory for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions and the Spartans return to the field for game two of the three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. at Secchia Field.