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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Big first innings for Michigan State doomed Penn State in both games of a double header Saturday. Michigan State took the first game, 7-1 and the second leg, 6-2 after scoring three first-inning runs in game one and four runs in the first frame of game two.
"I'm really disappointed in us today, head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "In game one we didn't show up early or at all until the second half. I think in game two we had a little more fight but we didn't make adjustments today and Michigan State did, so they won and we lost."
The Nittany Lion offense was limited all day due the strong performance from Kristina Zalewski, who threw all 14 innings on the day for the Spartans. Tori Dubois was a bright spot for the Nittany Lions, constantly having the answer to Zalewski in the circle.
Player of the Day: Tori
Most of the offense Penn State was able to produce came from Dubois, who earned her way to the leadoff spot this weekend.
"What makes Tori special is that she just plays ball," Lehotak said. "Some hitters are really particular about four spot or three spot, but Tori just sees ball, hits ball and that's why she's really effective anywhere."
Dubois registered the only two hits for Penn State in the first game of the day, including a solo home run while the rest of the offense struggled to adjust to Zalewski's pitching.
"My preparation going into the game (worked well)," Dubois said. "I do the same thing before every single game and the same thing in practice to I try to bring what I do in practice to the games,"
Dubois leads the Nittany Lions in most offensive categories including batting average and home runs. She has carried the offense recently with her consistent approach.
Pinch Hitting Success
Looking for a spark late in the first game, coach Lehotak inserted pinch hitter Christa Wagner who worked a walk to reach base for Dubois.
In game two, Penn State was in a similar situation in the fourth inning and Paige Johnson entered the game for Destiny Weber and singled up the middle. This further emphasizes Lehotak's assessment that her team never gives up and fights to the end. The Nittany Lions were prepared to succeed right away off the bench.
In the sixth inning of game two, Penn State loaded the bases with nobody out on three straight hits. A fielder's choice helped them push across one run but were unable to add any more, stranding two runners.
"The (fighting attitude) is just the players. That's the attitude the bring," Lehotak said. "As you saw they had bases loaded no outs and that's a team that fights constantly late in the game. That's just something where it's who they are as people, so that's an area of the game I never have to worry about which is great because that's just so hard to motivate. They've taken that upon themselves and I think that's why they are so special and I praise them in that area. They could have quit many times today and they didn't."
Penn State returns to action Wednesday when Pennsylvania rival Saint Francis travels to Happy Valley for a double header.