Penn State softball swept by Purdue in doubleheader
Penn State softball (6-18, 0-3 Big Ten) entered Saturday’s doubleheader against a strong Purdue team (15-16-1, 3-0 Big Ten) looking for their first conference win. The two games ended with Penn State still searching. Purdue used their high-powered offense against a struggling Nittany Lions pitching staff to secure both victories.
At the start of the first game, Macy Jones (0-4) was on the hill for the Lions, but she would only throw four innings, giving up four runs on five hits, while hitting two batters. Her relief of Christy Von Pusch (1-1) in the top of the fifth wouldn’t fare much better, as unearned runs would seal the Lions’ fate in the 9-2 loss.
In the top of the third inning, Jones gave up a three-run home run to Purdue’s Tori Chiodo, who went 2-2 with a home run and 6 RBI on Friday. The first scoring strike in the game put the Boilermakers up 3-0. The Nittany Lions Lexi Knief answered in the bottom of the inning, doubling to score Reina Furuya and put the Lions on the board 3-1.
Purdue would strike again in the top of the fourth with Danielle Fletcher’s home run and would go on to put up offensive production in five consecutive frames.
Penn State would only add another run to their score in the sixth, with Karlie Habitz’s towering home run over the left field scoreboard. But Lilly Fecho (11-8) the same Purdue pitcher they faced the night before, overpowered the Nittany Lions. She held the Penn State lineup to only two runs on four hits.
“I feel like this is a sign of youth. Since most of our kids didn’t get a lot of playing time last year, they get big in that moment,” said Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak. “When you’re senior class heavy they kind of teach the younger ones, but we have so many kids that are in roles that they’ve never been in, they’re just having a hard time relaxing.”
The batting struggles and pitching problems for the Nittany Lions were magnified in the second game.
Purdue jumped on the board immediately, with three of their first four batters in the game crossing home plate, thanks to a two run home run by Ashley Burkhardt. However, the Nittany Lions started to make their way back in the second and third innings, with key hits from freshman Shelby Miller and Kasie Hatfield. Penn State had the beginnings of a comeback at the end of the fourth inning, only to be stifled by a seven-run fifth inning from Purdue.
Penn State’s Marlaina Laubach (4-8) struggled to keep the ball off of the middle of the plate, giving up eight runs on 11 hits in only four innings. Her relief, Marissa Diescher (1-4), would fare worse, throwing only one complete inning and giving up a total of four runs, including a three run home run to Danielle Fletcher. In the fifth inning, she was replaced by Christy Von Pusch, who faced only four batters and allowed three runs on two hits.
Diescher came back on the hill to close out the messy fifth inning, as the Nittany Lions would play only five complete innings, losing by a final score of 13-4.
“I mean our pitching is putting us in such a hole and it’s talking our momentum away from our offense. I mean we had 11 walks yesterday, we’re walking today, and we can’t get ahead of the count,” said Lehotak. “We’re within two or three runs on the seventh and then we’re walking the leadoff batter in the seventh inning. We as a staff have to evaluate what we’re doing wrong.”
The coaching staff will use this week to make all of their corrections, as the Lions try to put this dropped series behind them as it is still early in the season.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better, as a staff it’s back to the drawing board tonight,” said Lehotak.
The team looks to redeem themselves in their home series against Michigan, beginning Friday, March 28, at 6 p.m.
Kristen Garrone is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism & Economics
Kristen Garrone is a senior studying broadcast journalism and economics at Penn State. Growing up in the fast-paced northeastern news and sports market has greatly piqued her interest in a career of broadcast journalism. She very interested in sports, both college and professional. She’s a sports anchor and reporter for the Centre County Report and has worked internships around campus with WPSU-Sports and Unrivaled: The Penn State Football Story, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, and the Lady Lions Basketball team.
Outside of State College, she’s been lucky enough to intern for the PGA’s New England Section and hope to pursue a career in the golf industry. She’s excited to take advantage of all of the opportunities she has here at PSU and am excited to begin a career in sports journalism.