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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; May 6, 2006- Coming into the weekend knowing a split could send the team back to the Big Ten Tournament, Penn State's softball squad got the win it needed Saturday, downing Ohio State, 4-2, on the Lion's home field. The Nittany Lions are 36-14, 9-10 Big Ten while the Buckeyes fall to 37-19 (11-6 Big Ten).
Despite a first inning bases-loaded situation for the Buckeyes, Penn State held Ohio State scoreless through the first three innings. Freshman second baseman Kayce Zelinski (Arlington, Texas) started the Lions' offense when she hit a single up the middle with one out in the bottom of the third inning. Junior Meghan Wolfer (Northampton, Pa.) reached on an error by Buckeye pitcher Kim Reeder and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. After the second out of the inning, both Lions eventually crossed the plate when sophomore slugger Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) connected for a long single off the fence in center field. Up 2-0 with two outs, Penn State's Danielle Kinley (Carlsbad, Calif.) hit a single down the left field line to score Lion shortstop Acunto from second. A groundout halted the Lions' offensive spurt, and the two teams went into the top of the fourth inning with Penn State leading 3-0.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, a double to left centerfield from junior designated player Jen Williams (Stillwater, Okla.) got the Lions going again. A throwing error by Ohio State catcher Lauren Daykin moved Williams to third base with one out, bringing up Acunto again with runners on base. The Florida native did her job, launching a long sacrifice fly to left field to score Williams with plenty of time, giving Penn State the 4-0 lead. Acunto's three RBIs tied her career high set earlier this season vs. Longwood.
In the top of the seventh inning, a single up the middle for Buckeye right fielder Chelsea Baker started Ohio State as the Buckeye's tried to make the end of the game an interesting one. Lion starter Missy Beseres (Golden Valley, Minn.) got the next batter, first baseman Christina Douglas, to line into a double-play to get two outs and clear the bases again. Douglas lined one back to Beseres, who threw Baker out at first, but the Buckeyes wouldn't quit. Catcher Daykin drew a walk from Beseres and lead-off second baseman Nycole Koyano sent one over the fence in right field to draw the Buckeyes within two runs, 4-2. Penn State head coach Robin Petrini went to her bullpen for the final out, calling on sophomore Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.). Reynolds got Brittany Vanderlink to groundout to Acunto for the final out. The sophomore reliever earned her first save of the season with the out.
Despite being out-hit by the Buckeyes, 7-4, the Nittany Lions were able to capitalize on good offensive timing and a few Ohio State errors, and coupled it with solid defense to come away with the pivotal win. Now 19-7, Beseres racked-up nine strikeouts in the win while Reynolds earned the save in the seventh inning. Ohio State's Reeder took the loss and falls to 16-9.
The victory ensures a spot for the Lions in next weekend's Big Ten Tournament, marking the team's seventh trip in the past eight years. The tournament will be held at the home field of the conference champion that is still to be determined pending results around the league, but will either be at Northwestern or Michigan.
The Nittany Lions host Ohio State again Sunday, May 7 at 1 p.m. at Nittany Lion Field. Sunday's game will be senior day with Beseres, third baseman Destinie Chavez (San Leandro, Calif.), centerfielder Leigh Murray (Fairfax Station, Va.) and Katie Stauffer (Manassas, Va.) will being honored before the game.