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Penn State Softball Falls 5-4 To Indiana In Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals

No. 7-seeded Penn State softball (31-16, 11-12 Big Ten) fell in heartbreaking fashion to No. 2-seeded Indiana (41-15, 19-5 Big Ten) in a marathon nine-inning game in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament Thursday afternoon.

Penn State took a 4-2 lead to the bottom of the eighth inning but was unable to stop the long ball, in the end, and fell to the Hoosiers. Maddie Gordon tallied three hits in the Nittany Lions’ defeat.

How It Happened

Brianna Copeland started in the circle for the Hoosiers and she retired the side on seven pitches in the top half of the first inning. Big Ten Freshman and Player of the Year Taryn Kern struck out in the bottom of the half of the inning, proving Bailey Parshall still had her best stuff after starting back-to-back games in the circle.

Lexie Black began the second inning, giving a ball a nice ride to right field, but Indiana’s Avery Parker tracked it down right in front of the warning track. In the home half of the second inning, Copeland gave herself a lead to bring back to the circle with a solo home run to left field.

The Nittany Lions responded in the third inning, trailing 1-0. Lilia Crouthamel split the gap in right-center field for a triple. Penn State had a base runner 60 feet away from tying it up with only one out, but Crouthamel was left stranded at third base. Parshall didn’t allow a base runner in the bottom of the third, retiring all three hitters she faced.

Kaitlyn Morrison singled with one out in the fourth inning and hoped to start something for the Nittany Lions. For the second inning in a row, Penn State left runners on base with no runs scored. Parshall allowed a walk in the bottom of the inning but managed to get all three outs with ease to send the Nittany Lions back to the plate.

Maddie Gordon started the top of the fifth inning with a single, and she was then advanced to second base thanks to a Liana Jones sacrifice bunt. Gordon once again advanced on the base paths, this time on an Indiana-passed ball. Penn State tied the score at one when pinch hitter Amanda Mack drove in Gordon on a sacrifice flyball to right field. Copeland got out of the inning, only allowing one run for the Hoosiers.

Indiana responded with a bang in their half of the fifth inning. Parker homered to give the lead right back to the Hoosiers. It was the second solo long ball given up by Parshall, however, those were the only two hits given up by the Nittany Lions through five innings.

Penn State got that run back in the top of the sixth inning. Cassie Lindmark dinked a hit into shallow center field, resulting in two Hoosiers colliding, which led to Black scoring from first base. Gordon followed it up with a two-out double, but pinch-runner Jenna Nelson was too aggressive and was thrown out rounding third base.

Kylee Lingenfelter relieved Parshall in the circle for the bottom of the sixth inning. The fifth-year senior faced the minimum and retired the top of Indiana’s lineup to keep the game tied at two. Heather Johnson replaced Copeland in the circle to begin the Nittany Lions’ seventh inning.

Another base running mistake for the Nittany Lions appeared to be positioned to score the go-ahead run, but following her second triple of the game, Crouthamel came off the bag and was tagged out. Penn State ended up not being able to score before heading to the bottom of the seventh inning. Lingenfelter once again dealt with Indiana’s lineup with ease, sending the game to extra innings.

In the top of the eighth inning with two outs, Black delivered for the Nittany Lions with a two-run home run to give Penn State a 4-2 lead. The following batter, Kathryn Rex singled and Gordon doubled to right-center field. Penn State had two runners in scoring position before Copeland returned to the circle to end the top of the inning.

Indiana began the bottom of the inning with a runner reaching on an error. Kinsey Mitchell followed it up with a single into left field. Both Hoosier base runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt, making it to second and third with one out and the top of the lineup hitting. Cora Bassett came up with a massive double to left field, which tied the game at four.

In more dramatic fashion, Crouthamel ended the bottom of the eighth inning with one of the best catches of the season. The acrobatic catch extended the game to the ninth inning tied at four. Maggie Finnegan and Emily Maddock hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the ninth innings. Copeland and Indiana squeezed out of the inning with it still tied.

Indiana finally ended the game in the top of the ninth inning with another solo shot. Sarah Stone hit a walk-off home run to dead center field and sent the Hoosiers to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Takeaways:

  • The Nittany Lions struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities, leaving too many runners on base when trailing the Hoosiers early in the game. Penn State also outhit Indiana 12 hits to five in the game.
  • Bailey Parshall brought her best stuff in the most important game of the season. The Nittany Lions’ ace faced one of the best lineups in the country, and she stifled the Hoosiers apart from two home runs.
  • Penn State is all fight. No matter the opponent or the score, these Nittany Lions do not give up. After trailing on back-to-back days, they come back. Though, this time came up a little short in a walk-off loss to the Hoosiers.

What’s Next?

Penn State’s conference season is over. It will await potential seeding in the NCAA Tournament but folks can likely conclude that this game marked the end of the Nittany Lions’ 2023 season.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a junior from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and is an associate editor at Onward State. He's a huge Phillies fan, which has its pro and cons come October. You can send all sports takes to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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