Spartan softball swept by Penn State at home for Big Ten Conference losses
Penn State (10-22 overall, 3-6 Big Ten), which entered the series without a win in conference play, swept the weekend series, 3-0.
After leading 3-1 on Saturday, the Spartans (8-24, 1-8) allowed four unanswered runs and fell 7-3. On Friday, MSU lost 9-3.
The Nittany Lions had no trouble filling the bases on Sunday, recording nine hits for the afternoon. MSU finished with three hits and struggled with timely hitting once again.
“We didn’t pull it together in the last two innings, and by that time, we were already down by six runs and it was hard to come back from that,” junior outfielder Alyssa McBride said. “I just think that we needed to be more aggressive early on in the game.”
Penn State entered the score book quickly on Sunday. At the top of the first inning, Lexi Knief reached first on an error. Knief reached second at the next at-bat when Reina Furuya bunted out. Kasie Hatfield then doubled to left field, scoring Knief.
With the bases loaded at the top of the third, Penn State’s Karlie Habitz scored Knief with a bunt to the pitcher to make it a 2-0 lead. With the bases still loaded, Nittany Lion Kristina Brackpool singled to center field to bring Hatfield and Furuya home, extending the lead to 4-0.
“You have to pitch it well, you have to have timely hitting,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “We gave that first run up in the first inning, and that was difficult, and yet we played decent defensively. Give Penn State credit, every time they needed a play, they made a big play. We scored some balls up and yet they made every play they needed to make.”
The Nittany Lions continued to score. Knief — who finished 3-for-4 on the day — homered to lead off the top of the fourth, and the Spartans trailed 5-0.
At the bottom of the fourth, McBride singled to center field for MSU’s first hit of the afternoon.
Penn State scored yet another run at the top of the sixth. Knief doubled to center field after MSU missed a catch, advancing Alyssa Sovereign to third base. Furuya proceeded to single to left field, scoring Sovereign and increasing the lead to 6-0.
The Spartans missed a scoring opportunity at the bottom of the sixth. With runners on first and third base, McBride faced the mound with two outs and two strikes. She bunted and nearly drove in a run, but grounded out.
Losers of five consecutive and nine of their last 10, the Spartans will have to find a way to pull together as they prepare to play at Indiana on Wednesday.