Weekend of Comebacks for Nittany Lion Softball
April 30, 2012
By Laura Finley and Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
"We have a tremendous amount of character and fight," said head coach Robin Petrini. "You hardly ever come back in the seventh from a 1-0 deficit, but to come back from a 3-0 deficit twice and then be down by one run in the seventh, it's incredible we did it three times in a row."
On Saturday during game one, Penn State trailed the Gophers 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth. But the Nittany Lions' scrappy at-bats against Minnesota Sara Moulton came alive to put up three runs on three hits and one walk. Continuing to battle, the Gophers relieved Moulton on the mound and regained a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh as Penn State's Kasie Hatfield stepped to the plate.
Hatfield doubled to left, Lisa Akamine followed with a walk and Liz Presto singled to right to load the bases for Shannon Hutchinson. Hutchinson kept her foot on the gas with an RBI single to load the bases again and tie the contest. Gophers' reliever Alissa Koch struck-out Alyssa Sovereign to delay the end, but Cassidy Bell came up one at-bat later with a centerfield blooper to score Akamine and take the game.
In game two a similar suit followed as the Nittany Lions again trailed Minnesota 3-0. This time the deficit remained heading into the bottom of the seventh. But Penn State got on Moulton again, and rallied behind a two-run single from Bell and an RBI single from Kailyn Johnson. Heading into the eighth, the score was even at three.
Lions' starter Akamine took care of the Gopher offense in the top of the inning before Penn State made its roar. After working runners to the corners, a hitless Sovereign came to the plate with two outs for the Lions. The lefty poked a single into the left-centerfield gap to score Presto from third and sweep the doubleheader.
The series continued Sunday, looking much like the two previous games. The Gophers scored three runs in the second after a homerun was hit by Erika Smyth. Penn State quickly answered in the bottom of the third with Akamine scoring on a wild pitch after being walked by Moulton. Carrying the momentum into the forth the Nittany Lions scored as Sovereign hit an RBI double, bringing in Hutchinson to make it 3-2.
With Penn State showing some fight, Akamine focused on keeping the Nittany Lions in the game, but had her work cut out for her. The Gophers had the bases loaded in the seventh and with two outs all eyes were on the mound. Akamine proved herself yet again, throwing a strikeout and renewing hope for the Nittany Lions.
"Lisa has been great all weekend for us," said Coach Petrini. "She just kept us in the game and without her effort we just didn't have a shot. She made an outstanding effort and I can't say enough good things about how she pitched this weekend."
Penn State came out hitting in the bottom of the seventh, determined to make their third comeback of the weekend. A hit by Alyssa Renwick started the late inning surge as she reached first on a fielders choice. With two outs, Johnson singled to left and Renwick advanced to second. A wild pitch by Moulton set the Nittany Lions up to score as Lauren Yao stepped to the plate.
"I went up to bat and I knew I had to get a hit," said Yao. "It was our last chance to get a run in the game and I went in being positive, thinking I was going to get a hit the entire time."
And she did, posting a single to left and driving in Johnson and Renwick to bring Penn State the win 4-3. The win also kept up the Nittany Lions winning record at home as the team has now won nine of their past ten games at Beard Field.
"It helps the team confidence," said Coach Petrini. "They're excited to have two days off. That was what was on the line today for winning a game and I think they're excited about that, but we'll be ready to go on the road and play Illinois this week"