Penn State Softball Sweeps Illinois In Doubleheader
Penn State softball (28-14, 9-10 Big Ten) defeated Illinois (28-23, 6-13 Big Ten) twice on Saturday in a doubleheader at Beard Field. After winning the first game 9-1 by a run-ahead rule, the Nittany Lions defeated the Fighting Illini 6-2 in the second game.
Strong performances from Emily Maddock and Lexie Black gave Penn State a boost on offense in the first two games of its three-game series, while all-around control on defense left no doubt about the Nittany Lions’ success.
The wins help Penn State in the Big Ten standings as it prepares for the conference tournament, which is just five games away. With the two wins over the Fighting Illini, the Nittany Lions move to eighth place in the conference.
The Fighting Illini got to work early in the opening game of the series. After Bailey Parshall walked Stevie Meade, Kailee Powell doubled to send Meade home for the inning’s only run.
Penn State had a chance to tie the game at the bottom of the inning when Lexie Black hit a single that advanced Cassie Lindmark to third base. Emily Maddock tried to make it to home plate, but was tagged out. With runners on first and third, Kaitlyn Morrison notched an RBI single to send Lindmark home and Black to third.
Maddie Gordon followed Morrison with a single that loaded the bases for Penn State, which was followed by a walk from Michelle Leone that sent Black home to take the lead. Another walk to Melody Coombs sent Morrison to score. After Lilia Crouthamel grounded out to first, the inning ended with a 3-1 lead for Penn State.
Penn State continued to produce in the second inning, as a single from Lindmark sent Maggie Finnegan home for the Nittany Lions’ fourth run of the day. A few batters later, Morrison sent a ball over the left-field fence to bring herself and Lindmark around the bases.
The Nittany Lions were nearly held scoreless in the third inning, but a throw to first base with two outs on the board bounced off Powell’s glove and allowed Jenna Nelson to score. Nelson’s was the only score of the inning, as Penn State led 7-1 after three innings.
Penn State had a chance to end the game in the fifth inning. With a six-run lead, the Nittany Lions put two runners in scoring position with one out recorded by the Fighting Illini. An infield single allowed Liana Jones to avoid the tag at home before a hit from Maddock sent Coombs to home plate to win the game 9-1 by the run-ahead rule.
As with the first game, Penn State got on the board in the first inning. A single from Maddock and a walk from Lindmark put them on second and first, respectively. A double from Morrison sent Maddock home before Gordon was hit by a pitch to load the bases. However, Leone struck out swinging to end the inning.
With no outs on the board and the bases loaded in the third inning, Penn State had a chance to go on a scoring run. While the Nittany Lions recorded two straight outs, a hit up the middle from Leone sent Maddock home and a single to right field from Coombs helped Nelson score. While Crouthamel struck out swinging on the next at-bat, Penn State held a 3-0 lead.
Finnegan increased Penn State’s lead with a solo home run in the first inning. Her trot around the bases wasn’t the only of the inning, as Black deep hit to center field scored herself and Lindmark. While Gordon struck out in the next at-bat, Penn State led 6-0 after four innings.
The Nittany Lions had a chance to close out the game via a run-ahead rule again in the fifth and sixth innings, but couldn’t produce anything on offense.
Illinois put together a strong effort in the seventh inning, scoring two runs. However, it wasn’t enough as Penn State pulled off another win on the day, this time 6-2.
- Have a day, Emily Maddock. The third baseman recorded three hits and two RBIs out of four at-bats in the first game, including her walk-off in the fifth inning. Maddock also recorded two runs on two hits in the second game of the day. In total, the third baseman went 5-7 from the plate on the day.
- Penn State’s defense held it down on Saturday. After a great pitching performance from Parshall in the first game, the home team nearly shut out the Fighting Illini in the second game. Allowing three runs over two games is impressive, and the Nittany Lions showed consistency on defense throughout.
- Simply put, Penn State looked good. After winning its first game by a mercy rule, the team nearly did the same in the second game. Regardless of how either was determined, the Nittany Lions looked sure to take both games on the day.
Penn State takes on Illinois one more time this weekend for its final game at home of the season. The first pitch will come at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, at Beard Field, and the game will be streamed on BTN+.
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