Softball Team Splits on Opening Day
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.; February 10, 2007- Penn State split its opening day efforts at the Carolina Classic with a 9-1 opening loss to No. 2 Tennessee and a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over. No. 22 (ESPN/USA Softball) N.C. State. The Nittany Lions (1-1) continue action at the Carolina Classic Sunday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. vs. East Carolina. The Nittany Lions conclude tournament action with a 2:30 p.m. meeting with host North Carolina.
Penn State continues action at the Carolina Classic Sunday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. vs. East Carolina. The Nittany Lions conclude tournament action with a 2:30 p.m. meeting with host North Carolina.
No. 2 Tennessee 9, Penn State 1
Penn State¡¯s softball team dropped the season opener to No. 2 Tennessee, 9-1, Saturday morning at the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C.
After three straight strikeouts from All-American pitcher Monica Abbott, the Lady Vols got seven runs in the bottom of the first inning. Lindsay Schutzler walked to begin Tennessee¡¯s inning, and an error on the next play put Lady Vol runners at second and third. After a strikeout by Lion hurler Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.), a wild pitch scored two runs for Tennessee. A groundout to shortstop Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) brought Danielle Pieroni to the plate. Pieroni singled Chiles home to make it a 3-0 Tennessee advantage with two outs. Shannon Doepking singled putting runners on first and second. A double from Jennifer Griffith scored one run for the 4-0 Lady Vol lead.
Liane Hoiuchi then singled in another run for No. 2 Tennessee. Difficulty in the field continued the inning for Tennessee when pinch-hitter Alexia Clay reached first on the second Nittany Lion error of the morning, scoring Griffith. The top of the order returned to the plate with Schutzler getting a single that sent two more Lady Vols across the plate for the 7-0 lead. A groundout to Esparza finally ended the inning with seven Tennessee runs, with only one earned, on five hits and two errors.
The next two and a half innings went scoreless with Tennessee¡¯s staff still pitching a no-hitter. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Tennessee used a pair of singles and a double to right field to score another run with two outs. The Lady Vols got one more when a fly ball single made it out to centerfield off the bat of Griffith. One run scored, and then a spectacular throw to the plate by Nittany Lion centerfielder Danielle Kinley (Carlsbad, Calif.) got Nicole Kajitani out at home trying before she could increase the Lady Vol advantage, but the inning ended with a 9-0 Tennessee lead nonetheless.
With one swing of the bat, Esparza ended the combined no-hitter by sending a Megan Rhodes pitch over the left field wall to make the score 9-1 in the top of the fifth inning. Shortstop Acunto followed with a single, but Penn State couldn¡¯t bring her around and the game ended in a 9-1 loss for Penn State to open the season.
Penn State 5, N.C. State 3
Versus N.C. State in the second game of the day, a scoreless ballgame turned to the Lions¡¯ first lead of the 2007 season in the third inning when the heart of the line-up came up. A walk to Rebecca Bautista (Elk Grove, Calif.) started the inning and head coach Robin Petrini brought in freshman Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) to pinch run. The next two Lions to the plate struck out, but big-hitter Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.) zipped a hard-hit double through the middle of the field to score Griffith from first base. The Lions couldn¡¯t muster another run in the inning, but took the 1-0 lead into the top of the fourth inning.
The Lions got into a bit of a jam when N.C. State came to the plate next but got themselves right back out of it before any damage was done on the scoreboard. A walk to begin the inning and a sacrifice bunt behind it by Abbie Sims moved pinch runner Krystal Hawkins to second base with one out. Another walk put Wolfpack runners on first and second. Penn State starter Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.) got Shaina Ervin to ground into a double play to end the inning. Second baseman Bautista fielded the groundball, tagged Jennifer Patterson on her way to second and then got the throw to Esparza at first in time to end the threat.
N.C. State¡¯s offense came out strong in the top of the fifth inning, however, again looking to equalize the score. A double from Kristine Bechtholdt started the inning and was followed by a single to leftfield from Blair Harkey. With runners on second and third with no outs, Heather Gelbard hit a three-run homerun over the rightfield fence that prompted Petrini to switch pitchers. Freshman Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) took to the circle with a two-run deficit and empty bags in her first collegiate appearance. Hill got the first batter she faced to line out before sending the second packing on a strikeout. A single from Miranda Ervin extended the Wolfpack¡¯s half of the inning until the next batter Sims hit a long, high fly ball to rightfielder Meghan Wolfer (Northampton, Pa.) to end the inning with a 3-1 N.C. State advantage.
Senior leftfielder Jen Williams (Stillwater, Okla.) led off the bottom of the fifth inning by beating out a bunt for her first hit of the year. After an out to the next batter, Williams then got to second on a wild pitch with only one out. Esparza walked to put Nittany Lions on first and second base with sophomore Danielle Kinley (Carlsbad, Calif.) up to bat. Kinley got a single down the leftfield line to bring Williams around and get Penn State within one. Another strikeout found Esparza and Kinley on base and a full count to Hill with the crowd on the edge of its seats. Hill drew a walk to load the bases, but a strikeout ended the inning with the Lions still trailing, 3-2.
In one of their last chances, sophomore infielder Kayce Zielinski (Arlington, Texas) led off the bottom of the sixth inning with an outfield single. After two outs, pinch hitter Sam Hovanec (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Esparza each earned walks to load the bases with two outs and a full count for the second inning in a row. Kinley used a good eye to let the pitch that walked her go by, sending pinch hitter Kari Lucas (Centre Hall, Pa.) across the plate to tie the game at 3-3. Junior shortstop Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) gave the Lions the game-winning run with a single that drove home two RBIs for the 5-3 final score.
The Lion defense held on in the top of the seventh inning for Penn State¡¯s first win of the young season. Hill picked up the first victory of her college career in the 5-3 decision.