Pitching Leads Softball to Doubleheader Sweep Over Bucknell
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --- Junior right-hander Marlaina Laubach hurled an absolute gem on the bump as Penn State (21-17) grinded out a 2-1 victory over in-state foe Bucknell (21-16) in Game 1 of a twin bill Wednesday night. Laubach tallied her eighth complete game of the season, coincidentally earning her eighth win.
“Laubach was fantastic, competitive, kept us in the game,” said coach Amanda Lehotak. In a game when the offense was dormant for five innings, Laubach did all she could to carry the Nittany Lions, striking out six while only yielding one run on eight hits.
Dana Nielsen pitched valiantly in a losing effort for the Bison, going 6.1 innings while giving up two runs on four hits. Pitch count came back to bite Nielsen as she ended up surrendering four walks to go with her 101 pitches, a season high in both categories.
Zeroes crept across the scoreboard until the top of the fifth inning, when Jacee Almond hit a single up the middle past the diving Penn State shortstop to score Chaylen Andolino, who had doubled to lead off the inning. Despite six different players registering at least one hit, the Bison were inconsistently able to string successful at-bats together, leaving six people on base.
Penn State’s offense was quiet as well, amassing only one hit in the first five innings of play. That all changed in the bottom of the sixth when Shelby Miller hit a leadoff bomb to right field to energize the Nittany Lion faithful. It was the sixth long ball of the season for Miller, but more importantly tied the game at 1-1.
“We’re in those pressure situations all the time,” said a smiling Miller postgame. “I don’t put as much pressure on myself leading off, I just know I have to get on base.”
The good vibes continued for Penn State in the bottom of the seventh inning as Macy Jones reached on a fielder’s choice then advanced to second base on an illegal pitch. Mollie Sorenson singled up the middle on the next pitch to score Jones and secure the victory as well as a mob celebration at home plate.
Momentum rolled on into Game 2 as the Lions scored four times in the first three innings of the nightcap. Macy Jones, Shelby Miller, Lexi Knief, and Erin Pond all drove in runs as they looked to put Bucknell away early.
Lehotak credited the fast start in Game 2 to the way the Lions scrapped out a victory in Game 1. “I think it was a sigh of relief, monkey off the back, You never want to lose at home. Going into [Game 2] we just looked so much more relaxed.”
Madison Seifert turned in another stellar pitching performance, going the distance while allowing one run on five hits to earn her eighth victory of the season. Three Bucknell pitchers were unable to solve the Penn State lineup as the team was never able to recover from the slow start.
Penn State hosts Maryland for three games starting Friday night. First pitch is at 7 p.m. at Beard Field.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @t_shives.