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April 30, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion softball team overcame a three-run deficit on Saturday at Beard Field to defeat Purdue, 8-5. Penn State used a three-run third inning and a five-run fourth inning rally to cement the victory. Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored to lead the Nittany Lions.
"I thought our kids showed tremendous character today," head coach Robin Petrini said. "They came back from a deficit twice, and you could see how we broke their spirit by continuing to come back."
Down 5-3 after four and a half innings, Penn State (24-21, 6-7 Big Ten) had a Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) walk to open up the bottom of the frame. Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) followed with a single to center and a Johnson double to left brought home Bell to cut the deficit to one run at 5-4. Kasie Hatfield (Lutz, Fla.) doubled to right scoring Akamine to tie it as Johnson trotted only to third because the ball caromed off the top of the wall just inches from a three-run homer. The consecutive hits forced Purdue starter Suzie Rzegocki (24-13) out of the game following three innings of six-hits, seven-run ball, three runs of which were earned.
Katie Hackney came in relief of Rzegocki and immediately walked Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) to put runners on the corners. Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) sent a grounder to second and the throw home was off the mark as Johnson scored on the scoring error to give Penn State its first lead of the game. Lauren Rossi's (Yardley, Pa.) grounder to short scored another run as Hatfield scampered home before Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) knocked an RBI ground out to first to up the lead at 8-5.
From there, Akamine shut down the Boilermaker offense, not allowing a run over the final three frames. Akamine, who came in relief of senior starter Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.), pitch 4.1 innings, allowing two hits, three walks and two earned runs to go along with five strikeouts, earning her 10th win of the season.
Purdue (28-14-1, 6-5 Big Ten) opened the game in the best way possible as Molly Garst led off with a homer to right field for a quick 1-0 lead. The Boilermakers would add a run in each the second and third innings for a three-run margin as Hill was forced from the game in the third.
The first Nittany Lion rally started with consecutive fielding errors by Purdue's defense as Bell and Akamine started the inning on the corners. Johnson singled home Bell for Penn State's first run of the game. Following a Hatfield liner to center, Sovereign singled to left to load the bases with before Yao flied out as Rzegocki looked to get out of the jam. Pinch-hitter Danee Collett (Rogersville, Tenn.) dribbled a ball in front of home plate as Shelby Krammer dove to the plate, but pinch-runner Shannon Hutchinson's (Sewell, N.J.) foot beat the force play as PSU ate into the lead at 3-2. Pinch-runner Rachel Myers (Millheim, Pa.) came home on a wild pitch to knot the score at three, but Penn State's rally would end there.
Purdue responded the following half inning as an Ashley Courtney triple scored one and a few pitches later, she'd score on a wild pitch by Akamine as the Boilers took a 5-3 lead.
Purdue out-hit Penn State, 8-6, but the Boilers recorded three errors, while Penn State had two. The eight runs match the Big Ten season-high for Penn State as the Nittany Lions beat Wisconsin by the identical score of 8-5 on Mar. 26. The win was Penn State's eighth comeback victory of the year and the first since Apr. 14 against Buffalo.
The Nittany Lions improved to 22-17 all-time against Purdue, winning their second straight in the series. The win snapped PSU's four-game skid and improved the Lions to 14-8 all-time vs. Purdue in Happy Valley.
Penn State seeks its first sweep of the Boilermakers since 2005 on Sunday at Noon. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network with Frank Giardina and Jennie Ritter calling the action. It's Kids Club Day and Code Blue at the ballpark as fans are encouraged to wear Penn State blue to the game. A post-game autograph session will take place as well. Fans who can't attend can follow the Nittany Lions through GameTracker as well as on Twitter (www.twitter.com/PSULionSoftball) for commentary and analysis. The game will also be aired on 1390 AM WRSC in State College and on GoPSUsports.com All-Access.