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April 8, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) smashed a ninth-inning home run as Penn State walked off with a 7-5 victory over Michigan State to complete a three-game sweep Sunday at Beard Field. The Nittany Lions have won four straight for the second time this season.
"We had a lot of fight and a lot of character," "Their lineup is tough, Michigan State is known for their hitting, so it was good for Lisa [Akamine] to keep us in the game and pitch well. When Kasie is confident in herself, she hits the ball well and hits it hard."
Hatfield led the Penn State (11-22, 3-6 Big Ten) offense with a 2-for-4 outing to cap a 7-for-11 weekend with three runs scored, two doubles, a homer and five RBI. She came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) on base after a lead-off single. Hatfield crushed the first pitch from Carly Nielsen over the left-centerfield wall for her first homer of the year as the Lions improved to 4-1 at home.
"I was just telling myself I could hit it because I've been hitting well in practice," Hatfield said. "I've been hitting well this weekend, I just told myself I could do it and hit the ball hard."
PSU twice had leads including a 4-0 advantage after two innings and a 5-4 lead after four. Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) went 1-for-3 with two RBI and a home run that gave Penn State the one-run margin in the fourth. Bell hit .333 with two homers, a double and five RBI this weekend against Michigan State (11-26, 0-9 Big Ten), while slugging .917.
The Nittany Lions took a four-run lead in the second inning. MSU starter Cassee Layne plunked Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.), allowed a one-out single to Hatfield, her sixth-straight hit, before walking Liz Presto (Bethlehem, Pa.) to load the bases. Ellen McNair's (Niceville, Fla.) RBI fielder's choice turned into an error at second giving PSU a 1-0 lead and keeping the bases full.
Layne then hit Bell with two outs to force home another run and Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) walked to make it 3-0. Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) singled to rightfield to score McNair for the 4-0 lead.
Michigan State got an unearned run in the third as Jayme O'Bryant hit a sac fly to Bell in left-centerfield for the second out of the inning scoring Kylene Hopkins. Bell threw to Presto at third as Sarah Bowling attempted to tag up at second and Presto gunned her down to end the inning on the double play as Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) came in relief of Marissa Diescher (Livingston Manor, N.Y.). Diescher went 2.1 innings of two-hit ball with three walks and an unearned run as she finished the week 2-0 in three starts.
The Spartans scored three in the top of the fourth on a sac fly with the bases loaded to make it 4-2. Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.) threw out Kelsey Cleary at home on a Lori Padilla single. Padilla and McKinzie Freimuth scored on a Hopkins double down the leftfield line to then tie it up at four apiece.
Bell wasted no time in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 1-0 pitch over the right-centerfield wall for a 5-4 lead. The Spartans answered by scoring one in the top of the fifth as Bowling scored on a Stephanie Sanders pinch-hit single to center.
Akamine and Nielsen fired zeroes the rest of the way as the two pitchers worked in and out of traffic all afternoon. Penn State's pitchers left 11 Spartans on base, while Michigan State's pitchers left 10 Nittany Lions on base. It would take nine innings for Penn State to win improving to 27-22 all-time against Michigan State and moving into eighth place in the Big Ten. PSU entered the weekend tied for 11th with MSU.
Akamine (7-15) went 6.2 innings to win her second straight decision, allowing eight hits, four earned runs with two walks and seven strikeouts. Akamine fired 19 strikeouts on the weekend to pace the Nittany Lion staff. Nielsen went 5.1 innings with two earned runs on two walks, three hits and three strikeouts, while Layne started the game and went three innings giving up four hits, two earned runs and four walks with a strikeout.
Penn State continues its 10-game home stand on Wednesday with a doubleheader at 3:00 p.m. against Temple. The matchups will be shown live on BTN.com with live stats on GoPSUsports.com GameTracker, while updates will be provided Twitter (@PSULionSoftball) and Facebook (PennStateSoftball).