Penn State Softball Uses Late-Game Heroics To Take Series Over Indiana
Penn State (14-19, 2-4 Big Ten) snapped its six-game losing skid with back-to-back dramatic wins over Indiana to take its first Big Ten series of the season.
The Hoosiers (17-18, 3-3 Big Ten) easily won the first of a three-game set, but senior Marlaina Laubach’s dominance in the circle and some clutch plays from newer starters allowed Penn State to come back and win the last two.
How It Happened
After coming out strong with a 1-2-3 inning in the first of Saturday’s opening game, starting pitcher Madison Seifert struggled to shut down the Hoosiers — giving up a home run in the second to CaraMia Tsirigos and multiple hits with two outs in the third before she was pulled for junior Jessica Cummings with the Nittany Lions down 3-0
On the offensive end, Penn State couldn’t put it together after getting runners in scoring position — leaving them stranded on second and third in back-to-back innings. With a Shelby Miller sacrifice fly scoring just Penn State’s second run in the previous five games, the Nittany Lions fell 6-1.
The second game of Saturday’s doubleheader was more straight-forward on the defensive end through the first few innings for both teams with neither recording a hit through three.
Penn State finally found a breakthrough in the bottom of the fourth inning with a Tori Dubois double to score the first run of the game. Dubois went on to score as she stole home on the throw to catch Mollie Sorenson stealing second. Sorenson tacked on another run in the sixth with a single to score Miller and make it 3-0.
Starter in the circle Madey Smith, who had a good outing through the first six innings, allowed Indiana to make it interesting and loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh. Rachel O’Malley laced a double to drive in two runs and Smith was pulled for Laubach. The senior used her experience to pull through — taking out the Hoosiers’ next three batters to leave runners stranded at second and third for a 3-2 Penn State win.
Sunday’s matchup was another pitching battle with only six hits recorded through six innings of play. Gianna Arrizurieta had a crucial two-out double — just her second hit of the season — to drive in Polk from first base in the second inning and make it 1-0. Taylor Uden tied it up for the Hoosiers in the top of the fourth with her fifth home run of the season.
Outside of that home run, Laubach continued her success in the circle from the day before and didn’t give up another run in the complete-game effort to set the Nittany Lions up with a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh. Despite some struggles in the batters box, the bottom of the order came up clutch and set Penn State up with first and third for Sam Shanahan, who drove in the winner with a single to take the game and series 2-1.
Player Of The Game
Marlaina Laubach And The Bottom Of Penn State’s Batting Order
Laubach had some struggles the past couple of weeks, but came through in a big way when the Nittany Lions needed her to take down the Hoosiers — playing a huge role in both wins over the weekend.
“She had kind of disappeared for awhile [early in the season],” coach Amanda Lehotak said. “Coach [Sarah Sigrest], our pitching coach, I kept asking ‘how are you feeling? We thinking Smith?’ And she said ‘[Laubach’s] adjustments are spot on.’ For her to do that and attack and make those kind of adjustments, I thought she pitched like a senior.”
As for the bottom of the order, it had five of Penn State’s six hits in game three, including two doubles from Arrizurieta who came in batting .050, and drove the Nittany Lions to that walk-off win with all three seventh inning hits.
That homestand didn’t last long.
Penn State heads back on the road next weekend out to East Lansing for a three-game set with Michigan State. The series begins Friday at 4 p.m. (live on BTN), and continues Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m (both live on BTN Plus).