Softball Upsets No. 14 Alabama But Falls to UTA in Game Two
TUSCALOOSA, Ala., March 1, 2003 - The Penn State softball team opened the second day of action at the Crimson Classic on Saturday with a 1-0 upset over No. 14 and host Alabama, but fell to Texas Arlington, 3-0, in the nightcap to land a spot in the consolation game. Junior pitcher Marisa Hanson (Victoria, Texas/Victoria) limited the Crimson to two hits and struck out five batters to lead the Lions to their first win of the weekend. Alabama (14-7) pitcher Stephanie VanBrankle had a no-hitter going through the first four innings of action. In the fifth, however, the Lions broke through for their first hit of the game when senior Erin Norton (Orange, Calif./El Modena) led off with a single to left field. Two batter later, freshman Destinie Chavez (San Leandro, Calif./San Leandro) sent a shot down the left field line for a double, scoring Norton who advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Their run in the fifth inning turned out to be the only score the Lions would need, as Hanson and VanBrankle retired either side in order down the stretch. It looked as if Penn State was going to be in trouble early on. The Crimson's Ashley Courtney led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple. But Hanson forced two ground outs and struck out her first batter of the game to end the inning.
Hanson then pitched herself out of another jam in the bottom of the fourth inning when Alabama had runners on second and third base with just one out. She struck out two batters for the final two outs of the inning to keep the game scoreless heading into the fifth inning.
The win is the Lions' first over UA in three meetings all-time. The Crimson defeated PSU in the NCAA Regional Tournament in Tempe, Ariz., in 2000, then claimed two close games at the Aggie Invitational in College Station, Texas, the following year.
Crimson hurler VanBrankle posted 10 strikeouts in the game. The result of game two was also decided early when the Mavericks (11-8) scored all three of their runs in the first inning. Penn State committed a costly error on the first play of the game which allowed Falon Kwasnick to reach base. Kwasnick advanced on a sacrifice and then scored on a hit from Beverly Rowan after the Lions got the second out.
PSU struggled to get the final out of the inning and the Mavericks took advantage, knocking out a single and a double to score two more runs and grab onto the 3-0 lead. The Lions tightened up defensively the rest of the game. Sophomore pitcher Tina Skelly (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) limited UTA to just one hit for the rest of the game, but Penn State struggled offensively, scattering four hits for the contest.
In the top of the seventh, PSU had the tying batter at the plate and runners on first and second base. Senior Megan Humphrey (San Diego, Calif./Mount Carmel) opened the inning with a hit. Norton then took her place at first with a fielder's choice and went to second base on a walk to Chavez. But the Lions ran out of opportunities when UTA recorded the last out of the game. Penn State, who is now 2-7 on the season, faces the Crimson in the consolation game on Sunday, Mar. 2 at 12 p.m. ET. Live stats of the game can be followed by clicking on the link at Penn State's official athletics' web site at www.GoPSUsports.com.
For the box score from the UTA game, click here.
For the box score from the Alabama game, click here.