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May 5, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of the largest crowd in Penn State softball history at Beard Field and Nittany Lion Softball Park, the Nittany Lions rallied to take a 3-2 victory over No. 14/15 Nebraska on Senior Day. Fittingly, senior Lauren Yao provided the three-run double to push Penn State (15-32, 5-16 Big Ten) past the Huskers (38-12, 15-6 Big Ten).
The win is the first over a ranked opponent for the Nittany Lions since a 5-3 victory over No. 22 LSU Feb. 10, 2012, and the first over a Top 15 team since downing No. 9 Oklahoma, 5-2, March 18, 2011.
The teams will play the rubber match of the series at 1 p.m. Monday at Beard Field. Both squads will then prepare for the Big Ten tournament in Lincoln, Neb., which begins Wednesday.
Sophomore Marissa Diescher (1-6) (Livingston Manor, N.Y.) earned the win in the circle for Penn State as she matched a season-high with 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a pair of walks while striking out two, including the final batter of the game. Junior Jordan Wheatley (Troy, Mich.) started the game for Penn State, finishing with two runs and six hits over the first two innings. Nebraska's Emily Lockman (14-4) was dealt the loss, giving up three runs on six hits.
Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) tallied the game-winning, three-run double in the fifth, bringing home freshman Maegan Tupinio (Wahiawa, Hawaii) and seniors Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.) and Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.). Senior Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) led the team with a pair of hits, her ninth multi-hit game of the year, while juniors Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.), Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) and Liz Presto (Bethlehem, Pa.) added one apiece.
For the third win in a row, Penn State plated all of its runs in one inning. Hatfield led off the three-run fifth by ripping a single to left field before Tupinio, running for Hatfield, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C). Presto, pinch hitting for Hutchinson, patiently waited on an eight-pitch count and sent a ball just over the shortstop's outreached glove to put runners on first and third while Bell walked on four pitches to load the bags with one out. Yao came through in the clutch for Penn State in an extended, 15-pitch count by fouling off seven-consecutive offerings at one point before blasting a bases-clearing double to the gap in left center to give the Nittany Lions a 3-2 lead and send the record-breaking crowd to a fever pitch in the stands.
The Cornhuskers put runners on base in both the sixth and seventh frames but solid defensive play from the Nittany Lion defense culminated in a swinging strikeout on an 0-2 pitch from Diescher to secure the victory.
Nebraska jumped out to a quick, 1-0 lead in the first with a trio of hits and appeared to threaten again in the second, putting runners on first and third with one out. The runners attempted a double steal as Jordan Bettiol advanced to second, but Renwick cut off the throw to the top of the diamond and fired back to Hatfield at the plate to put out Hailey Decker before a fly ball to right field ended the opportunity.
Penn State put runners in scoring position as well in the bottom of the frame as Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) was hit by a pitch and Sovereign posted the Lions' first hit of the day with a blooper to shallow center. The two advanced to third and second, respectively, on a ground out but were stranded there to end the frame.
Alicia Walker (Los Alamitos, Calif.), pinch running for Johnson, appeared to score from second in the bottom of the fourth after Sovereign sent a ball just over the pitcher and near the ground in front of the center fielder. Originally called a hit, the umpires met and overturned the call to end the frame and leave Penn State scoreless.
The program set a new attendance record as 768 fans packed in to see the biggest win of the year for the Nittany Lions. Before the clash, Penn State honored its six seniors, Bell, Hutchinson, Johnson, Rachel Myers (Millheim, Pa.), Renwick and Yao, and senior manager Angela Parascando in a Senior Day ceremony, as well as Nebraska's four seniors.