Penn State Softball Swept By No. 23 Northwestern
Penn State softball (20-11, Big Ten 2-7) was swept in its series against No. 23 Northwestern (24-9, Big Ten 9-1) over the weekend.
Despite some hard-fought battles, one of the top teams in the Big Ten was just too much for the Nittany Lions to handle as they drop their third consecutive Big Ten series. The Wildcats outscored the Nittany Lions 38-12 over three days.
The series started with a close battle, but Penn State ultimately began with a 9-4 loss.
Northwestern was first to the board with three unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, but innings two and three stayed quiet for both sides.
Penn State then began to hit its stride in the top of the fourth when Melody Coombs was hit by a pitch and Emily Maddock singled to put two runners on base. A fly ball then moved Coombs to third, and a single from Kaitlyn Morrison put the first run on the board for the Nittany Lions.
The sixth inning then had two fielders’ choice plays at second for the Wildcats, but with Maddock on first base with two outs, Lexie Black stepped to the plate and hammered a two-run home run to tie up the game.
But, Northwestern was quick to answer, scoring six in the bottom of the sixth to up its lead again to 9-3.
Penn State then score again in the final frame thanks to Maggie Finnegan, but it wasn’t enough, and the Nittany Lions suffered the 9-4 loss
In what was absolute domination for Northwestern, the Wildcats defeated the Nittany Lions 24-6.
The game began with three up and three down on both sides in the first, but Northwestern quickly turned on the jets in the second.
A series of walks and hits had the Wildcats up 11-0 to finish off the bottom of the second, and the Nittany Lions tried to chip away in the top of the third with a two-run home run from Melody Coombs.
Northwestern was once again hot at the plate in the bottom of the inning, scoring 10 more in the latter half of the frame to up its lead 21-2.
Penn State’s Lexie Black, Lilia Crouthamel, and Emily Maddock all had home runs of their own to add to the score, but Northwestern just overpowered the Nittany Lions with a final score of 24-6 to close out the game in four and a half innings due to the mercy rule.
The last game of the series was another close match, but it still was in favor of Northwestern 5-2.
Cassie Lindmark led off in the first inning with a double, but no more Penn State runners reached base until the third.
The score stayed knotted at 0-0 through the top of the fourth after another huge play from Lindmark with a putout at home.
The Nittany Lions finally broke through in the top of the sixth with back-to-back solo home runs from Coombs and Lindmark to take a 2-1 lead.
Northwestern didn’t score in the bottom of the sixth, but it loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, with the Wildcats’ Jordyn Rudd hitting a walk-off grand slam to secure the sweep.
- Northwestern is one of the strongest teams in the Big Ten, but with timely hits, Penn State can be a close competitor. Outside of the blowout in game two, the Nittany Lions kept both games competitive for most of the time, proving that it can stack up with one of the best teams in the conference.
- The program as a whole has made enormous strides in the past few seasons, but having key wins against top teams is what will send the Nittany Lions to the next level and elevate the program again, so finding ways to close out big wins will be key moving forward.
The Nittany Lions will now return home for a doubleheader against Big Ten foe Ohio State with game one beginning at 4 p.m. and game two set for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11 at Beard Field.
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