Softball Sweeps Saturday Doubleheader against Michigan State
The Penn State softball team (10-22, 2-6 Big Ten) swept its doubleheader against Michigan State (11-25, 0-8 Big Ten) Saturday afternoon at Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park.
After snapping their 13-game losing streak last week, the Nittany Lions were hoping to keep up their momentum against the Spartans and earn their first conference wins of the season.
“Our confidence was up and we were just ready to play,” said junior second baseman Lauren Yao.
Penn State came from behind in the first game of the doubleheader. After a three-run home run from pinch hitter Sarah Bowling in the top of the fourth inning, the Spartans took a 3-0 lead. Freshman starting pitcher Marissa Diescher kept her composure on the mound and finished out the top of the fourth, holding the Spartans to three runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Nittany Lion offense picked up speed and tied up the game, with junior first baseman Kailyn Johnson coming in to score the first Penn State run of the game. Two runs quickly followed, which led Michigan State head coach Jacquie Joseph to make a change at the mound.
Joseph replaced starting pitcher Cassee Layne with Shelby Wise, a decision that would not produce much for the Spartans. Penn State earned another run, leading the Spartans 4-3. Joseph made another change at mound, replacing Wise with Carly Nielsen, who would settle things down.
Both teams would once again go silent at the plate for the rest of the game. Penn State won the first game 4-3 to register its first Big Ten win of the season.
“When you win the first game, you kind of set the tone for the weekend,” said Penn State head coach Robin Petrini said. “Winning that first game is really important.”
In the second game, the Nittany Lions again started the game behind. Sophomore pitcher Jordan Wheatley was on the mound, but could not seem to generate any consistency. Michigan State scored three runs in the top of the first inning, and in the second inning, Petrini replaced Wheatley with senior pitcher Lisa Akamine.
“I knew that [Akamine] would be going in in that second game at some point,” Petrini said. “I thought that Jordan would be able to give us a better start and she didn’t and I thought, ‘Well, I can’t put us in too big of a hole,’ so I changed pitchers.”
Akamine came in looking calm and struck out three batters in a row, giving the Penn State defense a boost and some much needed confidence.
"When she's on, it's great," said sophomore catcher Kasie Hatfield. "We have confidence in her and I have confidence in the offense to be able to hit."
In the bottom of the second inning, Penn State showed their hitting abilities. Hatfield had an RBI double, knocking Yao in for Penn State’s first run of the game. Junior outfielder Cassidy Bell then smashed a three-run home run, her third homer of the season, to put the Nittany Lions up 4-3.
Penn State’s offensive momentum continued into the fourth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Yao, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, hit a three-run home run of her own, giving Penn State a 7-3 lead over the Spartans.
In the bottom of the fifth, Penn State would get another home run from sophomore outfielder Alyssa Sovereign. This one was a two-run homer, furthering the Nittany Lions lead over Michigan State.
Penn State would go on to win the second game 11-5 to sweep the series.
“I thought they played great,” said Petrini. “I thought we hit the ball well, I thought we showed a lot of fight a lot of character; we came from behind in both games.”
Penn State is now on a three-game winning streak, which it hope to continue in their third game against Michigan State.
Penn State will finish out its series against the Spartans at 1:00 pm on Easter Sunday at Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park.
Breanna Jacobs is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, e-mail: email@example.com.