May 11, 2017
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For the second-straight season the Penn State softball team earned the victory over Nebraska in its first game of the Big Ten Softball Tournament with a 5-0 shutout over the No. 5 seeded Cornhuskers hosted by the University of Michigan at the Wilpon Complex Thursday, May 11.
Coming in as the No. 12 seed, the Nittany Lion win marks just the second time since the 2008 season when the Big Ten Tournament bracket expanded the conference tournament that the No. 12 seed upset the No. 5 seed. The last team to do so was Purdue in the 2015 campaign when it defeated No. 5 Illinois 3-2.
Behind the stellar pitching of senior Marlaina Laubach (Northampton, Pa.), the Nittany Lion defense recorded five three up, three down innings in the field. Laubach capped off her seven-inning performance giving up just hits and striking out two in the victory.
Redshirt-sophomore Rebecca Ziegler (Tucson, Ariz.) was the leader at the dish tallying two hits, bringing in two RBIs and scoring three times for the Blue and White, while freshman Delaney Elling (Washington, Pa.) brought in two runs on one hit. The Nittany Lions were relentless at the plate as four of their five runs came in on two out, two strike hits. The Blue and White hitting was contagious throughout the lineup as Mia Monopoli (San Francisco, Calif.) tallied a pinch hit single, Gianna Arrizurieta (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) singled through the infield and Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.) notched one single on the day.
The Nittany Lions put runners in scoring position in the top of the first inning with a walk, a single up the middle and a sacrifice bunt. Elling stepped in and worked the count to full before she roped a single up the middle to score two and allow Penn State to take the 2-0 lead over the Cornhuskers.
The Blue and White two-out threat continued into the second inning when Ziegler ripped a 0-2 double into left center to bring in Arrizurieta from third base for the Nittany Lions. The Cornhuskers threatened in the bottom of the second inning with a leadoff double but the Blue and White retired the next three batters and got out of the inning unscathed.
Nebraska loaded the bases in the bottom of fourth inning with one out but a play at the plate and a fly out to center field allowed Penn State to maintain it 3-0 lead over the Cornhuskers. Penn State capitalized on a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth inning when Dubois singled through the right side of the field to bring in Ziegler from second base and extend the Nittany Lion lead to 4-0.
Ziegler brought in her second run of the day for Penn State, this time a leadoff first pitch home run over the right field fence in the top of the seventh inning to give the Blue and White one final security run heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Laubach and the defense went back to work one final time, retiring the three outs it needed in order to lock up the 5-0 shutout over the Cornhuskers.
Penn State will play in the quarterfinal game Friday, May 12 with a 1:30 p.m. contest against the No. 4 seeded Fighting Illini of Illinois.