Softball Drops a Pair of One-Run Losses to Purdue
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; April 29, 2007 - Penn State¡¯s softball team lost a pair of heartbreakers Sunday to Purdue by scores of 1-0 and 2-1, falling to 24-20 (5-7 Big Ten). Purdue is now 30-31-1 (8-9 Big Ten) this season. The pair of losses comes in the Nittany Lions¡¯ final home games of the season. Penn State travels to Maryland and Ohio State this week to conclude regular season action.
GAME ONE: Purdue 1, Penn State 0
In a game that was evenly matched from the beginning, Penn State stranded five runners in the first three innings, while Purdue left three on as well. With both teams putting some nice things together offensively that just weren¡¯t translating to runs, it was one swing of the bat that eventually made the difference. Purdue¡¯s Kelsey Haupert took a one-out pitch over the left field wall in the top of the fourth inning for the 1-0 Boilermaker advantage. In the end, that was all that it would take for visiting Purdue to gain the narrow, one-run win over Penn State.
Both teams had five hits each, junior pitcher Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.) went a team-leading 2-for-2 in the game. She took the loss in the circle despite striking out eight Boilermakers. Esparza fell to 11-10 on the year. Purdue¡¯s Brooke Baker took her record to 22-16 while striking out three.
GAME TWO: Penn State 1, Purdue 2
The second game of the doubleheader was wire-to-wire as well, with the same two pitchers, Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.) for Penn State and Brooke Baker for Purdue, in the circle. Purdue went up early in game two when, playing as the home team due to Big Ten rules, Boilermaker shortstop Candace Curtis hit a homerun to left field, the second off Esparza on the day.
With the Boilermakers up 1-0, the pressure was on for Penn State to earn the series split with a come-from-behind effort. The Lions eventually tied it up in the top of the fourth inning on a two-out rally. Sophomore second baseman Kayce Zielinski (Arlington, Texas) singled to center field before an error on Hollee Haines¡¯ (Riverside, Calif.) single to the outfield scored Zielinski from first to knot the game at 1-1.
The game would stay tied until the bottom of the sixth inning when a double to left center field from Purdue third baseman Ashley Hall and a sac bunt from Curtis on the next at-bat brought up DaQueta Johnson with one out. A wild pitch on the last pitch of an intentional walk to Johnson would be the difference as Hall scored from third base for the game-winning run.
With the loss, Esparza falls to an even 11-11 on the year despite striking out six batters in six innings of work. Baker struck out four to take her second win of the day and is now 23-16 for the 2007 season.
On Wednesday, May 2, Penn State travels to Maryland for a televised doubleheader with the Terps. The games begin at 4 p.m. on CSTV (check your local cable listings for air time and date). The Nittany Lions then meet conference-rival Ohio State to round out regular season action in Columbus May 5 and 6. Both games will start at 1 p.m. Big Ten Conference Tournament action is slated to start for May 10 at the site of the conference champion (TBA). The top eight teams receive bids for the conference tournament.