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May 2, 2014
(21-25, 4-16 B1G)
University Park, Pa. Nittany Lion Softball Park & Beard Field
(14-32, 4-16 B1G)
The Nittany Lions (14-32, 5-16 Big Ten) were outhit by the Illini (21-25, 5-16 Big Ten) nine to five with all five hits coming from different players. Sophomore Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) registered PSU’s lone extra-base hit with her fourth triple of the season.
Freshman pitcher Marlaina Laubach (Northampton, Pa.) took the loss but tied her season-high in strikeouts, doling out six in her 13th complete game of the year.
Illinois pitcher Brandi Needham pitched all seven innings without allowing a run or giving up a walk, to collect the win and move to 15-14 on the season. Remeny Perez led the Illini on offense as the only player on either team to record a multi-hit performance.
The Illini opened the scoring in the top of the third, notching one run on one hit. Kylie Johnson reached first on a fielder’s choice and was driven in as Alex Booker knocked a triple to center field.
Illinois added two more runs in the fourth as the Fighting Illini posted their first home run of the evening. Brittany Sanchez turned in a leadoff single to right field and advanced on a Jenna Mychko sacrifice bunt. Jenna Perkins stepped up to the plate after a Perez fly out to left field and delivered a two-run shot, launching the ball over the left field wall to put the score at 3-0.
The Nittany Lions looked to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth after successfully loading up the bases. Reina Furuya (Waipahu, Hawaii) punched a single up the middle to get things going and advanced to second as Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) reached on a throwing error by Illinois’ shortstop. Shelby Miller (Sugar Land, Texas) stepped up next and headed to first to load the bases after Needham fielded the ball but hesitated too long to get the out. The Lions’ efforts fell short, however, as Jones grounded into a double play in the following at-bat to end the inning.
The Illini extended their lead to 5-0 in their final turn at the plate with a pair of homers. Allie Bauch opened the frame with a solo bomb to left center and Ruby Rivera fired off another one to the same location two at-bats later before Laubach struck out her sixth opponent to close the inning.
Jones nearly put one on the board for Penn State in the final frame, leading off with a triple to deep center field but was out at home as she attempted to register an inside-the-park homer. Needham retired the remaining Lions in order as the Illini won by a final of 5-0.
The Nittany Lions and the Fighting Illini return to Beard Field on Saturday for the second game of the series. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. and Penn State will honor its three seniors in a ceremony prior to the start of the game.