Penn State finishes invitational undefeated after walk-off win

Story posted March 20, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Dylan Price

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State continued its winning ways on Sunday evening.

After scoring 23 runs in the last two games, the Nittany Lions found themselves in a pitching duel against Rider that went to extras.

The hero on Sunday for the blue and white was the first baseman Lexie Black, who ripped a walk-off single to score Cassie Lindmark from third base and vault her team to a 2-1 win.

Black had a team-focused mentality when coming up to bat on the big stage.

“I gotta do it for my teammates,” Black said. “I can’t leave my teammate out on third base like that.”

Penn State started Vanessa Oatley in the circle on Sunday. The start marked her first on the campaign after she dealt with an injury. Oatley went for 3.2 innings, with one hit, one earned run, three walks and three strikeouts in the evening.

Ally Kurland hit her second homer in as many days to follow up Oatley and give the Nittany Lions an early 1-0 lead.

In the third inning, Cassie Lindmark and Lauren Marcotte both got hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second and knock on the door yet again, but Anna-Mari Groskritz worked herself out of a jam.

After a base hit by Amanda Cooper, the energy changed for the Broncos as Cooper stood on the bag screaming, “let’s go!”

Then, Oatley hit a batter and walked another, loading the bases before walking Elena Gonzalez and allowing a run to tie it up at 1-1.

Coach Clarisa Crowell looked to the ace of the staff, Bailey Parshall to take over, and Parshall did just that, taking the circle and continuing her dominance by striking out Brianna Koonce to work out of the jam.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Nittany Lions stranded two runners, a problem that persisted throughout the contest. Penn State finished the game with six runners stranded.

In the top of the sixth, Parshall gave up a single before getting two outs, one in the form of a massive strikeout to end the inning and survive any potential danger.

Parshall came off the mound hyped up as she tried to turn the tides for Penn State. Groskritz then produced a 1-2-3 inning for the Broncos to send it to the top of the seventh still knotted up at 1.

After Parshall answered back, with a full count, two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Lindmark fouled out to send the game to extra innings.

Parshall finished the game pitching 4.1 innings, with two hits allowed, five strikeouts and no earned runs.

Groskritz pitched outstandingly on the opposite side as she finished the outing with 7.2 innings of work, only allowing one earned run, on four hits, fanning four as well.

In extras, Alyssa Ansara answered back and squeezed a bunt to advance Jessie Niegocki, but after a botched bunt and a groundout, the game went to the bottom of the eighth.

With Lindmark on second to begin the inning, Kurland flew out and advanced her to third. After a quick out, Black came to the plate and roped a single to left field to give the Nittany Lions their sixth win at home.

Crowell was all smiles following the victory.

“I just keep using the word proud,” Crowell said. “Our kids obviously could have hit the ball a little better, but I don’t even care about that because they found a way to win with grit.”

The Nittany Lions begin conference play next weekend, after finishing 7-34 in conference play last year.

Crowell feels this time around the outcome will be different as the team is coming in firing on all cylinders.

“We went 5-0 on the weekend,” Crowell said. “Our kids are feeling really good about what they’re doing.”

Penn State will take on Saint Francis on Tuesday before opening conference play this weekend against Maryland at Beard Field.

Dylan Price is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email