Penn State Falls to Wisconsin in First of Three Games
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. — The Nittany Lions kicked off its second Big Ten series of the season with a disappointing 13-0 loss against the No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers.
Penn State came into this matchup looking to extend its winning streak to four, but the Badgers had other plans.
Kayla Konwent’s leadoff double in the first inning gave Wisconsin a prime opportunity to strike first. Wisconsin has thrived early in most of its contests this season, getting a combined 55 runs in first two innings.
However, Bailey Parshall’s 125th strikeout of the season got the Nittany Lions out of an early jam. Parshall did a commendable job early, as she only allowed one hit and no runs through two innings.
Despite the slow start offensively, the Badgers were not phased.
A three-run home run by Taylor Johnson got the party started for Wisconsin in the third inning. Consequently, Parshall was replaced by Madison Shaffer.
Shortly after the Nittany Lions failed to get anything going in the bottom half of the third, the Badgers did not miss a beat at the top of the following inning.
“Once they finally scored on us, I feel like we got very tight, and kind of got away from our game plan,” Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak said.
After a wild pitch from Shaffer, the Badgers seized the moment and did not look back. A single up the middle by Kelly Welsh put Wisconsin up 4-0.
Immediately after, Ally Miklesh’s unexpected bunt caught the Nittany Lions off guard, thus loading the bases for the Badgers with no outs. Konwent then took advantage of the opportunity with a single, putting the Badgers up 5-0.
A three-run RBI double by Stephanie Lombardo highlighted an eight-run, six hit inning for Wisconsin. Penn State was finally able to get its defense off of the field, but not before they faced an 11-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the fourth.
Penn State’s hitting continued to struggle as much as its pitching did. The bottom of the fourth inning saw the Nittany Lions snap Menz’s no-hit bid, but fail to put any sort of pressure on the Badger defense.
Senior outfielder Toni Polk was vocal about Penn State’s lack of energy.
“We need to play a lot more aggressive tomorrow," Polk said. "We need to play to win."
Although Wisconsin’s batters headed into the fifth inning with a comfortable lead, they did not let up.
In what easily could have been a home run, Konwent crushed a line drive into the center field wall for her second double, which got the Badgers started again.
Johnson drove in Konwent with a double of her own, extending the lead to 12-0. After an error in the Penn State outfield, the Badgers tacked on one last run.
Although Penn State showed no quit in the bottom of the fifth, the side was retired, and due to the mercy rule, the game was declared over.
Despite the blowout loss, Lehotak still has a lot of faith in her team’s resiliency.
“I believe this team has proven that they respond," Lehotak said. "I believe that they’re going to come out fighting tomorrow.”
Penn State drops to 17-15 on the season overall, and 2-2 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions will now gear up for game two of the three-game series against Wisconsin on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Pasquale Tartaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.