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May 20, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -Penn State softball opened its first NCAA Regional appearance in four years against Fordham, but Jackie Hill's (San Jose, Calif.) sterling effort wasn't enough as the Rams prevailed, 2-0, on Friday at Beard Field.
A pitchers' duel developed between Hill and All-American Jen Mineau of Fordham (42-17) as the two hurlers tossed six scoreless innings. It wasn't until the top of the seventh did trouble set in. Lauren Rossi (Yardley, Pa.) had a chopper her way to open the frame, but her throw was just offline to allow Jamie LaBovick safe passage at first. Beckah Wiggins stepped up and hit her seventh homer of the year to give Mineau a 2-0 lead she wouldn't relinquish, stranding Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) on second base.
For Hill's part, she threw seven terrific innings in her 32nd start of the year, which set a new Penn State record. She allowed just four hits, one earned run and walked none to go with five strikeouts. The righty mixed great pitches all afternoon to keep the Ram hitters off balance, stranding three runners in the process. Her seven innings upped her total to 212 this season, the third highest total in a single season behind Cathy Kaminski (214, 1989) and Kelly McCann (218, 2001). The complete-game effort tied her for second with McCann at 24 and six behind Kaminski in 1989.
On the offensive side of things for Penn State (29-23-1), PSU's first scoring opportunity came in the second inning as Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) roped her sixth double of the season to centerfield. Pinch-runner Rachel Myers (Millheim, Pa.) would be stranded there was Mineau struck out the next three Nittany Lions.
In the fourth, Johnson wedged a one-out single to right, giving way to Mary Ostman (Northbrook, Ill.) on the basepaths. Ostman eventually stole second base, but a foul out and a strikeout allowed Mineau to wiggle out of another jam. In all, PSU left three runners stranded, all in scoring position.
Hill worked out of a jam herself when Jessica Crowley lined a double to left. She would advance to third on a sacrifice, but a strikeout of slugger Jocelyn Dearborn and a weak grounder to short quelled the threat.
Penn State participated in its first NCAA Regional at University Park in 28 years in the game against Fordham. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the loss dropped them to 0-3 all-time in home NCAA games. Fordham advanced to play 13th-seeded Oregon on Saturday at Beard Field with first pitch slated for 2:30 p.m. Oregon defeated Albany, 3-1 to open the University Park Regional. The Penn State-Albany game will begin at 5:00 p.m. A third game will commence at 7:30 p.m. between the Oregon-Fordham loser and the PSU-Albany winner. The matchups will have live video and stats on GoPSUsports.com.