Nittany Lions Fall in Doubleheader at No. 12 Minnesota
April 26, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.; April 26, 2014 - The Penn State softball pitching staff struggled to keep No. 12 Minnesota off the board and the offense failed to produce runs on Saturday afternoon as the Nittany Lions dropped a pair of games to the Gophers. Minnesota recorded a no-hitter in game one as it held PSU to seven total hits to take both contests in five innings, 9-0 and 16-2 respectively.
Sophomores Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) and Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) paced the PSU (14-31, 5-15 Big Ten) offense in the late game with Knief notching her 16th multi-hit effort of the year and Habitz driving in both of the Lions’ runs.
Erica Meyer and Sara Groenewegen led the charge for the Gophers (36-8, 14-5 Big Ten), registering four hits each, while Tyler Walker posted five RBI. Groenewegen collected the win in game one moving to 12-1 on the year, while Sara Moulten took home the victory in the nightcap, improving to 22-6 in 2014.
No. 12 MINNESOTA 9, PENN STATE 0 (5)
The Gophers wasted no time putting up runs in the second game of the series, churning out two in the first frame. Erica Meyer delivered a one-out double down the right field line, Taylor LeMay drew a walk with one to go and Groenewegen scored Meyer with single to center. Bree Blanchette then loaded up of the bases for Minnesota, reaching on a two-out walk, and Madie Eckstrom brought in the second run with a single up the middle. PSU pitcher Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) kept the Gophers from earning additional runs, forcing a Sam Macken fly out to close the inning.
Minnesota added to its lead in the bottom of the second, scoring on a Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) fielding error. Shelby Miller (Sugar Land, Texas) failed to field a groundball from Kaitlyn Richardson and was too late to get Sydney Fabian, who drew a leadoff walk, out at third. As Richardson attempted to head to second, third baseman Sam Shanahan (Seattle, Wash.) saw an opportunity to get her out but Hatfield failed to make the catch, giving Fabian the chance to head home.
Jones took the Gophers down in order in the third inning but was unable to repeat in the fourth as Minnesota notched two more runs. An off-target pitch hit leadoff batter Sam Macken and set the table for Gopher junior Tyler Walker, who stepped and blasted a two-run homer over the left field wall, giving Minnesota a 5-0 advantage.
The Gophers delivered the fatal blow in the bottom of the fifth, posting four runs on three hits and an error. Sophomore Christy Von Pusch (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) replaced Jones in the circle and took down her first opponent, Groenewegen, by forcing a groundout to second base. Blanchette put things in motion, shooting a single to shortstop and heading home on a Macken two-out single up the middle. Hannah Granger entered to pinch hit for Minnesota next and punched a single to left field setting things up for Walker yet again, who hit another bomb to left field, clearing the bases and putting the final at 9-0 as the Lions dropped due to the mercy rule.
No. 12 MINNESOTA 16, PENN STATE 2 (5)
Senior Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) turned in her 13th double of the season, moving her into a tie for sixth in program history. She is just two doubles away from entering Penn State’s career-doubles ledger.
The Nittany Lions broke their scoring drought early in the final game of the series, putting up two runs in the opening inning. Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) gave the Lions a promising start, leading off with a single to shortstop, and Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) followed with a bunt to push Knief to second. Jones reached next on fielder’s choice, sending Sovereign back to the dugout, and Habitz came through with a two-RBI double to left center field, scoring Knief and Jones.
The Gophers quickly took over, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the first. Walker and LeMay were the first to score for Minnesota, crossing the plate on a double from Groenewegen. Madie Eckstrom then delivered a double to left field to bring in two more runs as Kelsey Klucas and Blanchette scored.
Minnesota added two additional runs in the second frame as a LeMay homer to left field pushed in Walker to put the score at 6-2.
The Gophers blew the game open in the bottom of the fourth, scoring 10 runs on eight hits and two errors. Meyer led off with a single to second base and was brought in on the following at-bat as Richardson blasted a homer to left center. Groenewegen drove in Kayla Wenner with a single to left center for the ninth run of the contest and a Blanchette double down the left line scored Groenewegen. Hatfield failed to make a catch at home in after a Fabian shot to right field, allowing Blanchette to notch another run and an Erika Smyth single to right field racked up two more runs as Paige Palkovich and Macken scored.
The scoring continued on the next at-bat as Richarson sent a double to right field to bring in Fabian and Smyth and Hannah Granger earned the final RBI of the game, pushing Richardson across the plate with a sac fly to left field.
Knief posted her second hit in the top of the fifth but her efforts fell short as Moulten retired the following three players, leaving the final score at 16-2.
Penn State returns to action on Wednesday, hosting Pitt for its final midweek doubleheader of the season. The Nittany Lions and the Panthers take the field at 5 p.m. for game one while the nightcap is slated for a 7 p.m. start.