Penn State Softball Secures 3-2 Walk-Off Win Over Michigan In Opening Round Of Big Ten Tournament
No. 7-seeded Penn State softball (31-15, 12-11 Big Ten) took down No. 10-seeded Michigan (26-25, 10-13 Big Ten) with a 3-2 walk-off in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament Wednesday afternoon.
In the teams’ first meeting this season, Melody Coombs engineered a timely bunt to bring home Lilia Crouthamel and secure a walk-off win to move on to the conference tournament quarterfinal game.
How It Happened
Ace Bailey Parshall earned the start in the circle and, despite letting two runners reach first base, the Nittany Lions got out of the inning scoreless. In the bottom half of the inning, it was three up and three down to keep the score locked at zero after one.
Michigan then got two on base in the top of the second inning with one out. A hard ground ball to second base turned into a double play for the Nittany Lions, and a quick turnaround for Lexie Black at first base tried for the play at home, but a run came across and made the score 1-0.
The Wolverines then challenged the out at first base as it would’ve ended the inning and the run wouldn’t have counted, but the play was overturned and the run counted at home.
The Nittany Lions didn’t have any action in the bottom of the second inning, but the Wolverines got going once again in the top of the third inning. Despite that, Cassie Lindmark made a perfect throw from behind the plate to catch the runner stealing second to help end Michigan’s half of the inning.
Coombs reached first with two outs to try to start a rally for Penn State in the third inning, but the inning ended scoreless again.
Nothing came from Michigan in the top of the fourth inning, but Penn State finally got on the board with a solo home run from Kaitlyn Morrison to tie the score 1-1. Lindmark was then hit by a pitch and Maddie Gordon walked to put more Nittany Lions on base, but Liana Jones struck out to end the inning.
Michigan got the bats hot again and put two runners on base in the fifth inning. Parshall was taken out of the game after hitting a batter and replaced with fellow fifth-year pitcher Kylee Lingenfelter. Lingenfelter started off by also hitting the very next batter and loaded the bases with two outs.
Michigan’s Ellie Mataya then singled to center field to regain the lead for the Wolverines.
No runs were scored in the fifth inning for Penn State or the top of the sixth inning for Michigan. It was the bottom of the sixth inning, though, that was a catapult for the Nittany Lions.
Emily Maddock led off with a base hit and Morrison came up right behind her with a double to advance runners to second and third base. Black then had a sacrifice fly to score pinch runner Lydia Coleman from third base and tie up the score 2-2. Lindmark also got a base hit. Then, Michigan pitcher Lauren Derkowski dealt back-to-back strikeouts to ultimately end the inning.
Nothing happened for Michigan in the last inning, but Penn State started off the final half with a walk from Crouthamel. Coombs then came to the plate and laid down a successful bunt, and as Michigan’s defense attempted to get the lead runner out at second, the throw was wide and rolled to the warning track, sending home the winning run.
Penn State ultimately earned the walk-off 3-2 win.
Player of the Game
Kaitlyn Morrison | Shortstop
Between the solo home run and the double in the sixth inning, Morrison acted as a major spark for the Nittany Lions’ offense in the opening round.
This is the second year in a row that Penn State has finished the opening round in a walk-off win, and Morrison’s crucial at-bats were at the center of this win.
The Nittany Lions will move on to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals against Indiana at 1:30 on Thursday, May 11, in Illinois. Folks can tune in to the game on the Big Ten Network.
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