Penn State Rolls By Rutgers On A Festive Blue And White Weekend
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – While the football team duked it out in Beaver Stadium on Saturday, the Penn State Nittany Lions softball team got the Blue-White weekend started with a 7-0 win over the Rutgers Scarlett Knights.
The Nittany Lions came into the day on a three-game win streak. They defeated Rutgers the night before in extra innings, 11-9, after sophomore outfielder Tori Dubois launched a two-run, walk off homerun.
Strong hitting and dominant pitching led Penn State. On the mound to start the game for both teams were Jessica Cummings for the Nittany Lions and Shayla Sweeney for Rutgers. Cummings came in with a 7.26 ERA and 2-3 record in 13 appearances, while Sweeney had a 4.64 ERA and a 9-13 record in 31 appearances.
The first inning featured quick fireworks from the Nittany Lions. Dubois got things started with an RBI single that scored shortstop Toni Polk from second. Senior first baseman Kristina Brackpool continued her hot hitting and knocked in a two RBI double to right-centerfield that scored Dubois and senior third baseman and team leader Shelby Miller.
Cummings came out hot from the start, allowing only one hit through the first couple innings and only allowing two Scarlett Knight baserunners through the first half of the game. Cummings, who had not had a great amount of work so far this season, was easily cruising through the first portion of the game.
Sweeney only lasted a third of an inning before Rutgers decided to make a switch. Backup pitcher Aubrie Levine came into the game and got Rutgers through the first inning, but the damage was done and the Nittany Lions held a 4-0 lead after one.
Things never developed for Rutgers. Their offense stalled all night, even though Cummings only notched three strikeouts. Rutgers hit multiple deep fly balls, but since the weather was a bit chilly, there was no warm air draft to help carry the ball out and those hits instead died at the warning track.
The Penn State offense never had as productive of an inning as the first again, but the runs continued steadily. Right fielder Jessica Haug hit a sacrifice fly to score catcher Delaney Elling in the third inning. Miller and Dubois both plated a run each in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend the lead to seven.
Cummings’ pitch count was in the high seventies when the seventh inning began, but Nittany Lion head coach Amanda Lehotak, in her fourth season, rolled the dice and sent her out for the last inning. She shut down the Scarlett Knights and struck out the last batter to seal the game. In front of a crowd of 984, the junior from Owings, Maryland pitched her best game of the season.
After the game, Lehotak gave her take on Cummings’ performance and what it meant to the team.
“When Jess is on, she gives you a performance like that,” Lehotak said. “She’s one of the hardest pitchers to pitch because of the way she can spin and move the ball and I’m really happy for her that she had that tonight.”
Penn State moved to 7-2 on the season at home and Lehotak gave her opinion on why the Nittany Lions have done so well at home this year.
“It’s the fans, it’s your comfort level, it’s where you’re more relaxed, it’s your own bed,” Lehotak said.
This was the Nittany Lions 12th game with 10+ hits. Penn State will finish their three-game series with Rutgers Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and look for the sweep.
Matthew Harvey is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.