Lions Take Two from Kent State in Softball
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; April 26, 2006 - In softball action, Penn State (33-12) defeated Kent State (22-22) twice Wednesday, 4-0 and 4-1. Sophomore Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) slammed home two RBIs in the first game, while freshman outfielder Danielle Kinley (Carlsbad, Calif.) cloned that effort in game two. Redshirt-senior Missy Beseres (Golden Valley, Minn.) and Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.) each got wins in the circle vs. the Golden Flashes.
GAME ONE: Penn State 4, Kent State 0
Penn State jumped out early against Mideast Region foe Kent State, scoring a run in the first inning. Sophomore Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.) walked to start the action and junior outfielder Meghan Wolfer (Northampton, Pa.) followed with a single to advance Esparza to second. Sophomore shortstop Jen Acunto used one of her three hits in the game to move the runners again. With Esparza on third, a wild pitch from Golden Flashes' hurler Brittany Robinson scored the utility player to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. A walk to freshman outfielder Danielle Kinley loaded the bases again for Penn State, but the Lions were unable to capitalize and left the inning with just the single-run advantage.
Stranding three runners over their next two offensive innings, Penn State didn't score again until the top of the fourth inning. A single from senior third baseman Destinie Chavez (San Leandro, Calif.) followed by a sacrifice bunt from freshman second baseman Kayce Zielinski (Arlington, Texas) got Chavez to second where she was subbed-out for pinch runner Kari Lucas (Penns Valley, Pa.). Esparza drew her second walk of the game and Wolfer's second bunt single of the day loaded the bases for the Lions. Acunto was there again with another hit, this time an RBI-single to left field that scored Lucas to put Penn State up 2-0 over Kent State. Penn State stranded three runners again, however, as a fielder's choice and a strike out ended the fourth inning for the Lions.
Penn State tacked on a final two runs in the top of the fourth inning when a one-out double to centerfield from Esparza sparked the offense. After a groundout to the next batter, Acunto smacked and RBI-double to left centerfield that gave the Lions a 3-0 advantage. Kinley singled up the middle and then stole a base to put Lions on second and third for redshirt-senior Leigh Murray (Fairfax Station, Va.). Murray singled to left field, driving home the Lions' last run of the day to make the final score a 4-0 Penn State victory.
Redshirt-senior Missy Beseres threw her 19th complete game of the year and is now 18-5 with 203 strikeouts on the year. Last year, Beseres set the record for strikeouts in a season at Penn State after throwing 260. The senior allowed only three hits in her 10th shutout of the year.
Offensively, Acunto had two RBIs in a 3-for-4 performance with a double and Wolfer went 2-for-4 on the day to lead the Lions. Esparza walked twice and scored twice with a double.
GAME TWO: Penn State 4, Kent State 1
Freshman outfielder Danielle Kinley had two hits and Penn State took advantage of three Kent State errors to get the 4-2 win in game two of the doubleheader Wednesday in Kent, Ohio.
Undefeated when they score first at an impressive 25-0, Penn State got on the board in the top of the fourth inning after scoreless play through three frames. With two outs, sophomore Ashley Esparza and Meghan Wolfer jump-started the Lion offense with back-to-back singles. A walk to Jen Acunto loaded the bases with two down when Kinley doubled to left field to send two Lions across the plate and set Penn State up for its 33rd win of the season. After a pop-up, Penn State ended the inning with a 2-0 advantage and never looked back.
Kent State tried to tie it up in the bottom of the sixth inning when a walk, an error and an RBI-double from Ashley Ball scored the Golden Flashes' only run of the day. Penn State's defense tightened up and relief pitcher Esparza got the final two outs of the inning at the plate to keep the now narrow one-run lead at 2-1.
Penn State's offense added some insurance in the top of the seventh inning, again on a two-out rally. Kinley singled for her second hit of the day, and a Leigh Murray double to left field advanced the freshman outfielder to third base. Kinley scored on a wild pitch that also sent Murray to third base and an error on the next play got Murray home for the 4-2 final score.
Sophomore Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.) got her seventh win of the season and is now 7-3 after striking out six Kent State batters. Esparza pitched 1.2 innings of quality relief for Penn State, striking out three batters.
Penn State travels to Wisconsin and Iowa this weekend for its final Big Ten away action. The Lions meet the Badgers on Friday, April 28 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 29 at noon. Penn State then meets Iowa on Sunday for a 10 a.m. doubleheader. The Lions are not home again until May 6 and 7 when they host Ohio State for a two-game series. Gametime for both contests is 1 p.m. at Nittany Lion Field. The game on May 7 is slated to be senior day.