Softball Advances in NCAA Tournament, Defeating Boston University 7-0
The seven-run win is the largest margin of victory for sixth-seeded Penn State (31-22) in 17 NCAA Tournament games played over six appearances.
Senior Gina Bianchini (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsgrove) gave the Nittany Lions an early 1-0 lead, opening the game with a bunt single then coming around to score on a RBI-ground out from senior Kelley Galigher (Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill) after advancing on a wild pitch and a sacrifice.
Penn State added to its lead, scoring two more runs in the second inning, 3-0. The Nittany Lions had three hits, including two doubles, to extend their lead. Sophomore Leigh Murray (Fairfax Station, Va./W.T. Woodson) led off with a double then scored on a two-out single from classmate Steph Viola (Minersville, Pa./Minersville). A Pierce double tacked on another run after Viola came around to score.
The Terriers' (33-23) only error of the game led to another Penn State run in the fourth inning. Reaching on a single, moving to second on a sacrifice then taking third on a wild pitch, Murray went home when Viola stole second base and BU second baseman Kristen Knesek could not handle the ball from catcher Christy King and the throw rolled into center field. With the Lions already up 4-0, Pierce knocked out another two-bagger to right field to score Viola for PSU's second run of the inning.
The Lions rounded out the scoring in the top of the sixth inning, tacking on another pair of runs. The two-run inning was keyed by a steal home from sophomore Scarlett Neal (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison). Neal was running for Pierce who recorded her third double of the game.
The leadoff batter for Penn State reached base in five of the seven innings with four of them eventually coming around to score. The Terriers did not get to third base in any inning with only three runners advancing to second base.
The Nittany Lion bats have been hot since arriving at the NCAA Region 6 Tournament. Penn State has recorded 25 hits over two games. The Lions outhit the Terriers, 11-6, to avoid elimination. "We played another great game. We hit the ball well throughout the lineup," said Penn State head coach Robin Petrini. Shana [Riggleman] pitched a good game, spreading out hits and not allowing Boston to score."
Redshirt sophomore Shana Riggleman (Seaford, Del./Seaford) claimed her fifth shutout win of the season, while her counterpart BU's Tiffany Finateri got the loss in 3.2 innings of work. Finateri gave up five hits and five earned runs. Julie Henneke entered the game in relief and worked 3.1 innings, giving up six PSU hits and two earned runs.
Boston University and Penn State met in the elimination game of last year's NCAA Region 2 Tournament in Minneapolis, Minn. The Lions won that game, 5-1.
Penn State plays the loser of the Cal State Fullerton/Louisiana-Lafayette game tonight at 10 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live over WMAJ 1450 and on the Internet at www.GoPSUsports.com.