Softball splits double header with St. Francis

Story posted April 23, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Marley Paul

After a nail-biting defeat in the first of two, the Penn State Nittany Lions enforced the mercy rule against the St. Francis Red Flash Wednesday evening at Beard Field.

After cutting a 5-2 seventh inning deficit to just one in the first of the double dip, sophomore infielder Kristina Brackpool went to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. Brackpool flied out on a foul ball as Penn State (24-24, 6-11 B1G) lost 5-4 in game one.

The Nittany Lions’ offense exploded in the third and fourth innings of game two as they lit St. Francis (29-13, 7-3 NEC) up for 14 runs on seven hits between the two innings, courtesy of questionable fielder choices’ with the bases loaded and timely hitting by the Nittany Lions.

Following the wrong side of a series sweep with Maryland last weekend, Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak thought her players responded well today.

“For them to come back and stay focused and take it to [St. Francis] showed a lot of maturity," Lehotak said. “We were kind of feeling sorry for ourselves … we were a better play away, pitch away from a better weekend at Maryland.”

Jessica Cummings, a freshman pitcher, got the start on the mound for game one, entering play with a 4.97 ERA. Cummings cruised through the first three innings hitless. However, the Red Flash put together a rally in the fourth and fifth innings, notching a 4-2 advantage.

Rainfall and heavy winds began to take a toll on the game, and Penn State looked to capitalize as they got two runners on base in the sixth inning, but sophomore outfielder Mary Ward, batting just .154 on the season, struck out looking to conclude the inning.

Lehotak left Cummings out to finish the game as she finished with seven innings pitched allowing four earned runs on six hits, with five strikeouts and three walks.

“We haven’t really played well [defensively] behind her,“ added Lehotak. “If she’s gonna pitch her best ball, now is the time to do it.”

In game two, Macy Jones was spectacular as she made the switch from the outfield to the mound, starting just her third game of the season, entering play with a 6-3 record. 

Jones recorded five innings allowing six hits, one earned run, and three strikeouts while helping her own cause blasting her 10th homerun of the season and collected three RBIs on the night.

“Macy’s had a phenomenal year, she’s finally just competing at a high level,” Lehotak said. “Macy had a tendency to overanalyze, get selfish at-bats, this year she’s just sticking to her plan, being selfless and attacking”

Team homerun leader Alyssa VanDerveer followed Jones’ homerun with one of her own, pushing her total to 12 on the season. Not to be outdone, sophomore infielder Kristina Brackpool sent a no-doubter to the yard, for her 10th homerun, too.

The use of the mercy rule for Penn State was the first time since April 4, in a 15-5 decision against Wisconsin.

"We didn’t do very good against Maryland or our first game here,” said Brackpool. “I think this is good momentum boost going into the weekend.”

Penn State will resume conference play this weekend as they host the Rutgers Scarlett Knights for a three-game series at Beard Field.

Marley Paul is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email mdp5300.psu.edu.