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Penn State Softball Tops Lehigh 14-12 In Opening Game Of Penn State Invitational

Penn State softball (16-6) topped Lehigh (7-11) 14-7 on Thursday night.

Despite three pitching changes for the Nittany Lions and a grand slam for Lehigh, Penn State rallied to score 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and pulled through with the comeback win.

Maddie Gordon and Emily Maddock led the charge at the plate, and Penn State broke its six-game losing streak in its home opener.

How It Happened

The first inning was strong for starting pitcher Mady Volpe with three straight outs and a strikeout. The bottom of the inning also had no score for the Nittany Lions with a ground out and two flyouts.

Volpe continued her dominance in the circle in the second with two more strikeouts but still no offense could get going for Penn State in the second half of the inning.

The third inning had the first baserunners of the game with back-to-back walks for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh’s Gracie Smith then knocked a single to right field and loaded the bases. Josie Charles then lined out to shortstop, and Penn State’s Kaitlyn Morrison attempted the double play at third, but the ball was dropped by Brooke Klosowicz.

Emily Cimino was next to the plate and launched a grand slam off of Volpe, giving Lehigh a 4-0 lead in the top of the third. Penn State couldn’t come back in the bottom of the inning.

The Nittany Lions also opted for a pitching change in the top of the fourth inning with Bridget Nemeth. Lehigh’s Rory Dudley singled with one out to put a runner on first, but Nemeth answered and registered two strikeouts to end the side.

The bottom of the fourth started with a walk for Morrison and Penn State’s first baserunner. Emily Maddock followed that up with a single to right-center to get runners on the corners.

Maddie Gordon came up big with an RBI double to score Morrison and Maddock, making the score 4-2. Gianna Poletti lined out in the next at-bat, and Gordon got doubled-up at second to end the inning.

The Nittany Lions kept going getting three outs in a row in the top of the fifth, adding another run to the board. Gaby Garcia started the rally with a single to right, followed by an RBI double from Klosowicz to close the gap 4-3 in the fifth.

But Lehigh did not back down. Despite having two outs, Rory Dudley walked and Holly Lovett knocked in a two-run home run to up the score 6-3. The inning continued for the Mountain Lions after Maddock was charged with an error on a ground ball, and Maddy Schmeiser scored after Julia Mrochko sent a double to the center field wall.

Penn State head coach Clarisa Crowel then made the trip to the circle and pulled Nemeth to put in Paige Maynard. Lehigh’s Peyton Sward was the next batter with a swinging bunt and beat the throw to first, but Maynard was able to end the inning.

Penn State was down 7-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

Maddock led Penn State with a single to right, and it was followed by walks from Haylie Brunson and Gordon. Poletti hit a ground ball, and it was misplayed by the shortstop, which scored one and kept the bases loaded. Liana Jones walked to add another run and the score was 7-5.

Gaby Garcia continued with her hot bat and smashed a double to right field, scoring two and tying the score 7-7. With no outs, Klosowicz popped to left field and got the sacrifice fly to score Jones and get the first lead of the night 8-7.

Audree Mendoza kept it going with a hard hit to the left side and scored Garcia to up the score 9-7. Morrison showed the pop in her bat with an RBI triple and another run for Penn State. Maddock had another hit on the night and scored Morrison to make the score 11-7.

Brunson was the next Nittany Lion with a triple, scoring Maddock to up the score once again 12-7. Brunson came home from third with a single from Gordon.

The bases once again were loaded, but Lehigh was able to get out of the inning after 11 runs from Penn State.

In the top of the seventh, Maynard walked the first two batters, and Brooke Cannon doubled to right-center and scored both runs. Penn State made the pitching change back to Mady Volpe.

Volpe started her outing with two strikeouts, but Lehigh would not back down and had another RBI double to make the score 14-10. Mrochko also blasted a ball to left field for a two-run home run and closed the gap at 14-12 for Lehigh. Penn State then entered Lydia Spalding to pitch. Spalding forced a groundout to Morrison and the game ended 14-12.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will take on Lehigh for the second time starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 15, at the Nittany Lion Softball Park. The game can be streamed on BTN+.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a senior staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music or Penn State wrestling and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs in Beaver Stadium. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected].

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