Game Preview: Penn State Softball vs. Purdue

Story posted March 30, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Justin Ciavolella

The Penn State Nittany Lions are looking to gain momentum in Big Ten conference action when they host the Purdue Boilermakers this weekend at Beard Field.

The Nittany Lions, who sit at 19-13 on the year, dropped the final two games of a three-game set last weekend when they began conference play against the Maryland Terrapins.

Penn State was able to win the first game on Mel Coombs’ walk-off home run to extend its winning streak to eight games. After their two losses to end the weekend, the Nittany Lions got back into the win column on Tuesday against Bucknell.

The win, which was prompted by Lilia Crouthamel’s grand slam and solid pitching, should not serve as consolation for the club.

The offense for Penn State has been hit or miss. While Ally Kurland, Cassie Lindmark and Lexie Black have been dependable for Clarisa Crowell’s lineup, the other six spots have been inconsistent.

This weekend may prove to be another challenge for the Nittany Lion offense with a tough Boilermaker rotation coming to town.

Purdue has two pitchers that allow less than four runs per game in Alex Echazarreta and Brenna Smith. Add in Alexa Pinarski, who leads the team in starts with 10, and the Purdue pitching staff has enough depth to get through this weekend’s three game set.

Likewise for Penn State, the one consistency has been the pitching staff. Led by senior Bailey Parshall, who has posted 1.32 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 116.1 innings of work this season, the Nittany Lion pitching staff has posted a 2.74 cumulative ERA on the season.

Vanessa Oatley, who returned from injury during the Penn State Softball Invitational, has helped create more depth for a pitching staff that had mainly featured Parshall and Kylee Lingenfelter. Add a solid freshman campaign for Lydia Spalding, and head coach Clarisa Crowell can be confident in any of the pitchers she throws into the circle.

The Boilermaker offense is similar to that of the Nittany Lions. While they have a solid trio of Rachel Becker, Rylee Platusic and Echazarreta, who all hit over .300, the rest of their lineup has not been producing consistently.

These two offenses will be looking to find their rhythm, but that will be no easy task against the tough pitching from the circle.

With the offensive struggles, expect three low scoring affairs that will likely be decided on one or two mistakes from the pitchers. Penn State is no stranger to these close games with five of its eight home wins being by two runs of less.

The Nittany Lions have a knack for clutch hits as three of those five games were decided by walk-off hits.

The Nittany Lions have not posted a winning record in conference play since 2016, which includes going 7-34 last season when they only played conference games. This series, while still early, could shape how the rest of Big Ten play will pan out for Penn State.

The first pitch of the series is set for 6 p.m. on Friday with afternoon games to follow on Saturday and Sunday.

Justin Ciavolella is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email