Penn State Completes the Sweep Over Maryland
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- On Sunday, the Penn State Nittany Lions secured its third Big Ten Conference sweep of the 2016 season in front of their second-straight sell out crowd with a 5-3 victory over Maryland. With the sweep, Penn State (24-17, 11-3 Big Ten) moved to 6-0 in conference play at Beard Field, the first time since 2012 the Nittany Lions have swept two conference series at home.
The Nittany Lions elevated their play in the sixth inning, holding the Terrapins (11-30, 3-9 Big Ten) to zero runs at the top of the inning, and then bringing in two runs at the bottom of the inning. The hero of the inning and the game was Shannon Good, who stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter with the game still tied at three. The bases were loaded, as the senior hit a rocket ground ball through center field, driving in the two securing runs for the lead and the win.
Had coach Amanda Lehotak commented on Good’s clutch performance in the sixth and said, “Shannon Good is the best pinch hitter I’ve had in my coaching career. She’s usually money in that situation. That was a good matchup for her and she did great.”
Senior Lexie Knief and freshman Tori Dubois also notched two runs batted in, in addition to Good’s two RBIs in the sixth. Dubois and Kristina Brackpool each produced two hits for the game, leading the team for the game.
The Nittany Lions started their scoring off with a single to center field by Macy Jones, who has a .652 lead off average. Jones was then brought home after a drive off of the first pitch for a double from Knief.
The Lions starting hitting early in the game, bringing in the first three runs in the first. However, despite the early offensive success, Maryland’s errors helped Penn State catch the early lead. With runners on second and third, Dubois drove a single through the right side of the infield to bring in Knief from third, while a Maryland error allowed Penn State to take the 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
“Our record is much better when we strike first,” Lehotak said. “It was important for us to jump out early and put some wind in our sails.”
The Maryland Terrapins cut the lead to two at the top of the third off of a shallow single to right field by Kristina Dillard.
Maryland knotted the score to 3-3 in the top of the fifth inning on an RBI double by Skylynne Ellazar and an RBI groundout by Hannah Dewey to tie the ball game.
Despite allowing nine hits through the 5.1 innings she pitched, junior Marlaina Laubach was a big reason for Penn State’s early success and only allowed three runs.
Laubach was replaced by freshman Madison Seifert in the top of the sixth, who secured the Lions win after Good’s up at bat, striking-out Maryland’s last two hitters.
Lehotak commented on Seifert’s close and said, “That’s what she’s been able to do well all year. This is the first time she came out and attacked, attacked, attacked. I’m really proud of her.”
In addition to back-to-back sellout crowds at Beard field and fan support all weekend, Lehotak pointed her team’s recent success to her senior players.
“The seniors are the ones who have been guiding the ship,” Lehotak said. “They have all the credit for our success right now.”
The Nittany Lions will head on their final road trip of the season as they head to Iowa City, Iowa for another three-game Big Ten Conference series against the Hawkeyes. Game one of the series is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.