Softball falls to Penn State, 9-3
The Nittany Lions were powered by timely hitting, strong defense in the outfield and a solid game from freshman pitcher Marlaina Laubach, who struck out six batters.
A slow start doomed the Spartans, who had several opportunities to score with runners on third base.
"I think when they had an opportunity, they got a big key hit and scored first, which is important," head coach Jacquie Joseph said. "But then they scored in multiple innings and took advantage of some miscues. And then I thought their girl pitched it pretty darn well, I mean (Laubach) kept us off balance and you have to give them some credit."
The Spartans had an opportunity to score at the bottom on the first.
With freshman outfielder Kassidy Kujawa on third base, freshman catcher Lindsey Besson hit a foul ball that was caught by Penn State catcher Kasie Hatfield, ending the first inning.
At the bottom of the second, sophomore shortstop Destinee Luna sent the ball up the middle and dove to second base.
Junior outfielder Lindsey Nielsen sent Luna to third on the next play but didn't make a single.
Junior outfielder Ellie Stoffer came in to pinch hit, but failed to send Luna in for MSU's first run of the game.
Penn State scored at the top of the third inning. Reina Furuya sent the ball up the middle for a single, and freshman pitcher Valerie Kaff walked Lexi Knief on the next at-bat, giving Penn State runners on first and second base.
Hatfield batted the ball to right field and MSU missed the catch, giving Penn State a 2-0 lead headed into the bottom of the third.
MSU missed a chance to tie the game at the bottom of the third. Freimuth hit a single, and Kujawa hit another single on the next at-bat. Gutknecht then hit an in-field fly out but sent Kreimuth and Kujawa to third and second base.
With the opportunity to tie, Besson hit a fly out, standing Freimuth and Kujawa to go to the top of the fourth.
"We did have opportunities, and we didn't capitalize on them," Joseph said. The game does turn on that. It's the team that does capitalize first and we did. We had our chances and give Penn State credit, they took advantage of our opportunities and we didn't."
Penn State pushed the lead to 4-0 in the fifth inning. With runners on second and third base, Jones batted a triple up the middle of the field to pick up two RBI's.
A quick 1-2-3 followed for MSU, and the Spartans remained scoreless going into the sixth.
The Nittany Lions added another run in the sixth after Miller reached home following a Spartan error.
The Spartans finally found some success at the plate at the bottom of the sixth. After a single by Thomas and consecutive walks, Luna stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.
Luna grouned out and drove in Thomas for MSU's first run of the game, advancing Besson and McBride to second and third base.
Sanders drove in Besson and McBride on the next at-bat with a double to right field, cutting the lead to 5-3.
Penn State responded with a four-run inning at the top of the seventh. Habitz scored Jones to extend the lead to 6-3. Kristina Brackpool doubled to send home Shanahan and Habitz, pushing the lead to 8-3. Knief then scored Tupinio to give the Lions a six-run advantage.
Penn State sealed the win with a fly-out and 1-3 ground-out.
MSU will return to action tomorrow at 1 p.m., taking on Penn State in the second of a three-game series.