PSU Softball Sweeps South Florida in Tampa
TAMPA, Fla., Mar. 5, 2002 - The Penn State softball team swept South Florida on Tuesday, 3-1 and 3-1, at the USF Softball Complex. The wins end a five-game losing skid for the Lions. Timely hitting and solid pitching by sophomore Marisa Hanson (Victoria, Texas/Victoria) and freshman Missy Beseres (Golden Valley, Minn./Robinsdale Armstrong) led the Lions to victory. Penn State committed a costly error on a routine play in the bottom of the first inning. The Bulls capitalized on the Lions' mistake, scoring the first run of the game to take a 1-0 lead. South Florida held on to the slim 1-0 advantage until the top of the fourth inning. Junior Erin Norton (Orange, Calif./El Modena) led off the inning as she had the top of the second with a single up the middle. A walk and a passed ball put runners on second and third. Junior Jackie Dabrowski's (West Lafayette, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh) hit right back to the pitcher scored Norton, tying the game at 1-1.
The Lions took the 3-1 edge in the top of the fifth inning. It was a lead that the Lions would never relinquish. With two outs, the USF outfield collided trying to field a fly ball to center, allowing senior Gina Bianchini (Pottstown, Pa./Pottsgrove), who reached base on a walk, and Norton, who was intentionally walked, to score. In the bottom of the sixth inning, USF threatened to cut the lead to one run.
With a runner on first base, a hard-hit double by the Bulls' Holly Groves was played by the Lions' Bianchini. USF's runner was rounding third base and was sent home. Bianchini relayed the ball to sophomore Barbie Pierce (Citrus Heights, Calif./El Camino) who gunned down the runner at home plate as sophomore Erica Greenberg (Irvine, Calif./Calvary Chapel) held on to the ball to record the second out of the inning. Hanson forced a fly out to centerfield to end the inning and preserve the two-run lead. Hanson's two of her five strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh inning to seal the victory for the Nittany Lions. Norton ended the game perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two runs scored and a walk.
In game two, the Nittany Lions took a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning with just one swing of the bat. Senior Jennifer Tripken (Middletown, N.Y./Minisink Valley) hit a home run with just one out in the inning, scoring freshman Mandy Nuxoll (Kelso, Wash./Kelso) for the two-run advantage. In the sixth, Tripken led off the inning with a double to centerfield. Norton followed up with an RBI-single extending Penn State's lead to 3-0. It would be all the Lions would need for the win. The Bulls did not go away quietly, however, attempting to put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Three of South Florida's four hits came in that stanza as runner advanced to second and third with two outs. But Beseres tacked on her fifth strikeout of the night to end the game. Beseres improves to 3-1 on the season. Tripken was 2-for-3 with two runs score and an RBI. The home run was her third of the season, equaling a career high. She posted three home runs during her freshman campaign. She has also hit Penn State's only three homers of the season. The Lions outhit the Bulls in the nightcap, 7-4.
Penn State will look forward to the Speedline Invitational from Mar. 9-10. The Lions will open the tournament on Thursday, Mar. 9 with a game against Georgia Southern at 5 p.m. followed by a game against Hofstra at 7 p.m. All games will be played at the International Softball Complex in Plant City, Fla.