Softball Routs Indiana 13-3 In First Leg Of Three-Game Series
After getting swept by Ohio State in a two-game series in Columbus, Penn State (18-16, 7-2 Big Ten) planned to bounce back in Big Ten play as it traveled to Indiana to cap-off a three-game series against the Hoosiers (21-15, 4-5 Big Ten) – a team also coming off a conference loss. The Nittany Lions pounded the Hoosiers with 12 hits and captured a dominant 13-3 victory in Bloomington.
How It Happened
After Penn State went down in order at the top of the first inning, the Hoosiers built an early two-run lead thanks to two doubles to left and right-center respectively and a single up the middle. The Nittany Lions woke up in the second, with Erin Pond drawing a walk and Toni Polk moving her over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Another timely walk set runners on first and third, and a shallow single to center by Mollie Sorenson loaded the bases. Unfortunately, a pop fly closed out the second inning and stranded three runners on base.
At the top of the fourth inning, center fielder Lexi Knief doubled up the left field line and then stole third and home on a couple wild pitches by Indiana, cutting the Hoosiers lead 2-1. After Polk singled through the left side of the field and Reina Furuya drew her 21st walk of the season, Penn State had the bases loaded with two outs. A sweet single up the middle by Macy Jones brought Polk and Furuya around to score, and the Lions snatched a 3-2 advantage heading into the fifth inning.
A walk by Sorenson led off the fifth, and a powerful double to right center by Shelby Miller set up two runners on second and third. After another walk, Knief showed off her hot bat with a shot off the right-center field wall, plating two more runs for the Lions. Pond also cleaned the bases with a single through the right side for two more runs, boosting Penn State’s lead to 7-2 through the top of the fifth. Indiana had an answer, as Sarah Galovich knocked a one-out double off the left-center field wall. Galovich then made it home after a single zipped through the middle of Penn State’s defense, cutting its lead 7-3 by the end of the fifth inning.
Pond led off the sixth with her second hit of the night, a double to center field. Sorenson then advanced Pond to third with a single of her own. Penn State then juiced the bases, and a huge double into the left-center field gap by Alyssa Vanderveer cleared them and gave the Nittany Lions a commanding 10-3 lead. To no surprise Knief chopped another ball to short and beat the play at first. Kristina Brackpool walked, and the bases were loaded for the Lions for the second time this inning, but no runs came out of it.
At the top of final inning, Sorenson laid down a perfect bunt to place runners on first and second with no outs. Vanderveer grounded out, but moved both runners over in the process. After the bases filled for yet another time, Shannon Good brought every runner home with a hard grounder that hit third base and made its way into center field. Penn State gained a 13-3 advantage. A walk an a wild pitch allowed for Indiana to try and make something happen in the bottom of the seventh, but a mean strikeout by Penn State pitcher Marlaina Laubach shunted any hopes the Hoosiers had. The Nittany Lions went on to claim a 13-3 victory.
Player Of The Game
Lexi Knief | Senior | Center Field
Senior center fielder Lexi Knief dominated the offensive side of the field with one double, two singles, two stolen bases, and three runs. She also notched three RBI’s for the Nittany Lions. It was rare if after her up-to-bat slot circled, though Knief wasn’t somehow standing on base with another solid stat under her belt.
The Nittany Lions return to Bloomington Saturday, April 9 for the second leg in their three-game series with in-conference opponent Indiana. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.