Penn State softball swept in three-game weekend series against Michigan
On a cold, rainy, Saturday afternoon in State College, Penn State softball sought redemption, after dropping both games of a Friday doubleheader to the University of Michigan. The Nittany Lions were unsuccessful, as they dropped a 12-4 decision in five innings.
In a game originally scheduled for 3 p.m., the impending rain bumped the start time to noon. But much like the wet weather, the Lions could not escape a nationally sixth ranked Michigan team.
“They are that good, I mean you don’t go to the World Series and have all of those All-Americans and not be that good,” said Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak. “So technically they’re supposed to beat us, but at the same time there are areas of the game that we didn’t compete at the level that we need to compete, that I wasn’t happy with.”
For the Lions, this game, along with this series, was marked by defensive miscues and an inability to produce offensively. The team was shutout in both of Friday’s contests and couldn’t score a run until the fifth inning in Saturday’s game.
The offensive frenzy for Michigan began in the first inning, where the combination of an RBI single by Michigan’s Sierra Lawrence and error by Penn State’s third baseman Sam Shanahan put the Wolverines up 3-0. Michigan would continue to score runs in every inning with no answer by the Nittany Lions, until the final half inning.
Errors and defensive miscues were a major factor for the Penn State fielders. Although both Michigan and PSU had two total errors in the game, both of the Nittany Lions’ came with the expense of three runs, among other scoring opportunities for their opposition.
“I really think the problems today, honestly, were youth. You’ve got a shortstop who has never played shortstop before,” said Lehotak. “You’ve got a freshman third baseman that has never seen balls hit like that before. I think they got mental and I think they got a little shell shocked. We have been doing a great job all year at making the routine plays, and today we didn’t make the routine plays and that’s what killed us.”
The Nittany Lions went to bat against Michigan pitcher Haylie Wagner who, after Saturday’s game, improved her undefeated record to an impressive 17-0.
“She kept jamming us, that’s her pitch, her go to is the curve on righties and the screw away on lefties, but we were expecting to see her most this weekend. We practiced that all weekend, but she’s good,” said Penn State sophomore catcher Karlie Habitz.
After being down 12-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, Penn State gave its only show of offense in the form of a two-out rally. After Reina Furuya drew a key walk and a pitch hit Kasie Hatifeld, Habitz, who leads the team in RBIs, started the scoring drive with an RBI single to left field. Freshman Shelby Miller knocked an RBI, and soon after Alyssa Sovereign had an RBI double, bringing the score to 12-4. However, the Lions would not add anything more afterwords.
The two-out rally, albeit short, was a sign of hope for Lehotak.
“Potential, I think that’s the key word. I hate to say it but when the pressure’s off a little bit and the kids are relaxed, that’s what they can do, and they do that every day in practice, and that’s what I’m used to seeing. We just have to get over that hump and maintain the ability to stay relaxed in pressured situations,” said Lehotak.
Habitz, who provided a strong showing at bat in the series, also believes in her team’s potential and knew that her hit, which scored the first RBI in the game, could get things rolling for the Lions’ offensively.
“Our team has the potential, and we can do it, we just need to believe that we can do it. I feel like it was just time for someone to step up and show them that we can. I definitely believe that we put too much pressure on ourselves,” said Habitz.
The team is headed back to the drawing board after this weekend. They look ahead to their next game, where they face off at home against St. Francis (PA) on Wednesday, April 2nd. Lehotak believes her team will be defined by their attitude and how they will come back mentally after this weekend.
“Life punches you in the face, and it’s about how you’re going to deal with adversity,” said Lehotak. “To me, it’s a life lesson that you could crawl in a hole and die, and be embarrassed, or you can come back and crawl and fight and respect the game and respect Penn State. I felt that the kids played really hard today.”
Kristen Garrone is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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.