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April 17, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Nittany Lion softball team used two first-inning runs and a Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) shutout to defeat Minnesota, 2-0, on Sunday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Hill scattered eight Gopher hits for her sixth shutout of the season, while Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) went 2-for-3.
Penn State (23-17, 5-5 Big Ten) opened the game with some fortune as Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) walked with two outs. Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) singled off UM pitcher Sara Moulton's glove before a dropped popup by Dannie Skrove scored Johnson and put Hatfield on third, while Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) was safe at first. Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) bounced another off Moulton's glove scoring Hatfield and giving Penn State a 2-0 lead.
Penn State looked to extend its 2-0 lead in the second inning when Bell knocked a two-out double to left and stole third, but Moulton (22-11) got a key strikeout to end the inning. Penn State's only other base runner for the rest of the game was Bell again, as she singled with one out in the fifth and earned second on a wild pitch. Again Moulton got out of the jam with a strikeout and a grounder back up the middle.
The tale of the game was Hill's ability to get out of jams and key defensive plays by the Nittany Lions to quell Minnesota (25-18, 3-5 Big Ten) scoring threats. The Gophers stranded nine runners on the base paths and put runners in scoring position in the third through sixth innings.
In the third Malisa Barnes singled with one out and Dannie Skrove was hit by a pitch. The two of them would be moved over a base on a bizarre play as Kari Dorle hit into an infield fly, but Lauren Rossi (Yardley, Pa.) dropped it. The runners advanced a base thinking the infield fly wasn't called and the Rossi to third, but PSU didn't tag Barnes out as the force play was off. Hill induced a foul out to get out of the jam.
Hill stranded two runners on in the fourth and Minnesota's best chance to score came in the fifth as Skrove sent a single to center as pinch-runner Kelsey Klucas attempted to score from second. Bell rifled a bullet home as Hatfield tagged Klucas out for the first out of the inning. Two pitches later, Hill was out of the inning as another infield fly and a grounder to first to end the Gopher opportunity.
Minnesota advanced the lead-off hitter, Jessie Hathaway to third in the sixth, but Hill got pinch-hitter Mallory Mitchell swinging before a perfect seventh inning, highlighted by a terrific play by Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) on a Barnes grounder up the middle, gave Penn State its 23rd win of the season and evened its Big Ten record at 5-5. The Gophers out-hit Penn State, 8-4. In Saturday's game, Penn State out-hit Minnesota, 5-4.
Penn State continues its Big Ten play with a Wednesday doubleheader against No. 2 Michigan at Beard Field beginning at 5:30 p.m. The twinbill is a White Out for fans and will be televised on the Big Ten Network. The matchups will be covered through GameTracker as well as commentary and analysis on Twitter (www.twitter.com/PSULionSoftball).