Penn State Softball Faces Ohio State After Five Grand Slams In Five Games
Penn State Softball has been up to something recently – or rather, five pretty big somethings.
Starting with its April 1 game against Bucknell, the Nittany Lions’ offense went on a tear so #unrivaled that James Franklin would be astounded. In the seventh and final inning, freshman infielder Alyssa VanDerveer hit a grand slam to tie the game at eight runs apiece. Kristina Brackpool hit a walkoff single a few batters later, but the talk of the game was focused on the grand slam – a rare spectacle in baseball that requires a perfect storm to be executed.
That night, the two teams met again to finish off the doubleheader. The story of that game was far different than the afternoon’s. Instead of needing a walkoff to win the game, the Lions opted instead to win by mercy rule – winning 13-1 in five innings, partially because of Brackpool’s best VanDerveer impression. She sent the team’s second grand slam of the day over the fence, and sent the Bison packing.
Penn State won the next game, against Wisconsin, 11-8, with a rare slam-less showing.
The second half of that doubleheader was even higher scoring than the first. VanDerveer hit yet another grand slam in the first inning, but her team’s defense couldn’t match its offensive output and ultimately fell, 14-13.
Now that grand slams had become commonplace for the team, it had to do something drastic to top its recent performances. Sure enough, in the third game against Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions’ bats were on fire. Another five-inning mercy win came because of not one, but two grand slams. Heading into the fourth inning, the teams were tied 4-4. After the fourth inning, Penn State led 13-4. The nine-run outburst mostly came off of the bats of Shelby Miller and Reina Furuya. In two short swings, the pair each put a grand slam on the scoresheet and combined for eight RBIs in one inning.
Following five grand slams in five games, the softball team fell thrice in a sweep against Indiana at home. With the huge offensive showing the week before and the following three-game losing streak, it’s time to look forward to what the team can do next. A Wednesday doubleheader against Ohio State at Beard Field will prove to be a good test for the 21-20 Nittany Lions. Improving its 4-8 conference record against the 22-16 Buckeyes (6-6 in the Big Ten) will be a goal for the home team when it throws the first pitch at 5:30 p.m., and then again at 7:30. With VanDerveer, Brackpool, Miller, and Furuya riding their hot bats, and with the Lions’ offense clicking, the short series will be a crucial one.