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April 6, 2014
(8-24, 1-8 B1G)
East Lansing, Mich.. • Secchia Stadium
(10-22, 3-6 B1G)
EAST LANSING, Mich.; April 6, 2014 - Sophomore Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) and senior Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) ignited the Penn State offense on Sunday afternoon as the softball team shut out Michigan State, 6-0, to complete the Nittany Lions’ first series sweep since the 2012 season. Knief nearly hit for the cycle, posting a double, a triple and her first collegiate home run while Hatfield added a double and a single.
PSU pitchers Christy Von Pusch (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) and Marlaina Laubach (Northampton, Pa.) worked together to post the Lions’ second shutout of the season . Von Pusch earned the start and threw two full innings without allowing a hit before Laubach entered the circle. The freshman doled out two strikeouts and did not give up a single walk while allowing just three hits through four innings.
The Nittany Lions (10-22, 3-6 Big Ten) outhit the Spartans (8-24, 1-8 Big Ten) nine to three and each team registered two walks. Penn State improves to 30-24 in the all-time series vs. the Spartans and has won six of the last eight matchups between the two teams.
Penn State wasted no time getting on the board in the final game of the series, taking a 1-0 lead in the opening frame. Knief reached first on an error by MSU’s shortstop and headed to second on a sacrifice bunt from Reina Furuya (Waipahu, Hawaii). Hatfield stepped up to the plate next and delivered with double to left center, sending in Knief for the first run of the day.
Penn State broke the game open in the third inning, adding three runs on three hits. Knief led off with her fourth triple of the year and Furuya reached base next after being hit by a pitch. Hatfield drew a walk to load up the bases and Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) drove in Knief in the following at-bat with a bunt single to bring the score to 2-0. Another single from freshman Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.) drove in the final two runs of the frame as Furuya and Hatfield headed home.
Knief extended the Lions’ lead in the top of the fourth with her first home run as a Nittany Lion. The sophomore cranked a solo shot over the center field wall on the second pitch of her at-bat to push the score to 5-0. Hatfield and Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) added a pair of singles after Knief’s homer but were left stranded as Habitz was retired for the third out.
The Spartans registered their first hit of the day in the bottom half of the fourth. Junior Alyssa McBride recorded the hit, punching a single to center field on a 2-2 count.
MSU kept the Lions off the board in the fifth but Penn State added its final run an inning later, putting the count at 6-0. Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) continued her successful week at the dish with a leadoff single to second base. Knief followed up with a double to center and a Furuya sacrifice fly to left field pushed Sovereign across the plate.
Michigan State buckled down for the remainder of the game, keeping the Blue and White from further extending their lead but the Spartans were unable to rally, giving PSU its fourth straight win.
The Nittany Lions continue their six-game road swing next weekend as they travel to Bloomington, Ind. For a three-game series at Indiana. The Lions and the Hoosiers open the series on Friday evening with first pitch slated for 5 p.m.