Penn State Softball Earns Weekend Split with 3-1 Win at Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.; April 2, 2005 ¨C The Penn State softball team used a three-run sixth inning to leave the Twin Cities with a split, beating Minnesota 3-1 to get its first Big Ten win of the season. PSU is now 19-12 on the year, 1-1 in the conference, while the Gophers fall to 16-14, and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
In the top of the third inning, Minnesota used an error by the Lions early in the inning to prolong its at-bat long enough to take advantage of a single from rightfielder Stephanie Sward and a double from catcher Meghan Higgenbotham to take the 1-0 lead for the Golden Gophers.
An error with one out started the Lions¡¯ big inning of the afternoon when in the bottom of the sixth freshman pitcher Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.) reached on a bobble by Gopher shortstop Rachel Keeney. A single by freshman catcher Hollee Haines (Riverside, Calif.) put runners on first and second for the Lions. Pinch runners Kelsey Francisco (State College, Pa.) and Rebecca Bautista (Elk Grove, Calif.) advanced again on a single from Leigh Murray (Fairfax Station, Va.) that loaded the bases, still with just one out. The single continued a five-game hit streak for the junior outfielder.
A wild pitch knotted the game at 1-1 when Francisco came home on the errant delivery from Minnesota starting pitcher Lyn Peyer. After the wild pitch, freshman designated player Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.) ripped a double to the leftfield wall to send two more Lion runs across the plate for the final score of 3-1. Redshirt-senior pitcher Missy Beseres (Golden Valley, Minn.) finished the game in relief, getting the save with two strikeouts and joining with the Lion defense to retire the Minnesota side in order to end the game.
The victory was Penn State¡¯s first Big Ten win this year, and marked the first conference victory of freshman starter Esparza¡¯s young career. Now 6-1, she struck out a career-high nine batters in the victory. The Gopher¡¯s Peyer, last night¡¯s winning pitcher, took the loss with a three strikeout performance and is now 9-8.
The Nittany Lions travel to Wisconsin for an 11 a.m. CT doubleheader vs. the Badgers on Sunday, April 3. Penn State then hosts Kent State on April 6 for its next home doubleheader, which begins at 3 p.m. at Nittany Lion Field.
LION NOTES: Outfielder Leigh Murray has a current five game hit streak going. Both catcher Hollee Haines and pitcher/first baseman Ashley Esparza are on four-game hit streaks.