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Penn State Softball Defeats Indiana 2-1 In Big Ten Opener

Penn State softball (21-6) outlasted Indiana (22-7) 2-1 Friday afternoon at Beard Field.

In a battle of the pitchers, Bridget Nemeth gave up just one hit in the first game of the triple header. Along with that, she tossed five strikeouts in the low-scoring matchup.

How It Happened

To start the first inning, the Hoosier batters made Bridget Nemeth work hard on every pitch. After walking a batter with two outs, the 30-pitch inning from Penn State ended in a force out at second after Jiselle Hernandez handled a hard-hit grounder to shortstop. Penn State went three up, three down at the plate to close out the first inning.

The bats remained cold throughout the second inning and into the top of the third inning, as both squads went three up, three down at the plate. Finally, the Nittany Lions found their footing as Hernandez and Gianna Poletti singled to left field, putting runners on first and second. With two outs, Emily Maddock flew out to center field, leaving two for Penn State as the third inning ended.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Taylor Minnick hit a deep shot to left field, but Michela Barbanente got under it just in time, resulting in an out. The impressive catch in the outfield was then followed by a strike out from Nemeth, her fifth of the day. The pitching duel continued as Haylie Brunson went down swinging to open the trip to the plate in the bottom of the fourth for Penn State.

At last, Gabby Garcia opened the door for Penn State, giving it a 1-0 lead with a home run to center field. The fourth inning ended shortly after Liana Jones tried to reach first on a bunt but couldn’t beat the throw.

Despite Nemeth walking a batter with two outs in the top of the fifth, no damage was done to the Nittany Lions as Jones tracked down the third out of the inning in deep center field.

Barbanente drew a lead-off walk to start the trip to the plate for Penn State. Shortly after, Hernandez advanced Barbanente to second on a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch from Adriana Copeland advanced Barbanente 60 feet from home.

Then, Poletti singled up the middle to score the runner on third, but the promising inning came to an end as Poletti got caught leaving early from first and Morrison struck out looking. Despite that, the Nittany Lions extended their lead to 2-0 as the fifth inning ended.

Brooke Benson drew a lead-off walk to start the sixth inning but was forced out at second after Cora Bassett hit a ground ball to shortstop. Bassett then advanced to second from a Copeland ground out. Indiana finally got on the board after Taylor Minnick singled up the middle, scoring Bassett and ruining Nemeth’s no-hitter. Luckily for Penn State, the inning abruptly ended as Minnick was caught leaving the base early, ending the at-bat for the Hoosiers as they trailed 2-1.

With Penn State’s offense going three up, three down in the bottom of the sixth, Indiana returned to the plate down by just one run with one more at-bat. On the first two pitches of the inning, Parker flew out to center field, and VanBrandt flew out to center. With two outs, Nemeth forced a pop-out that was cleanly fielded by her defense, ending the game in favor of the Nittany Lions.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will continue their weekend series against Indiana at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. The game will be streamed on BTN+.

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About the Author

Cadyn Gill

Cadyn is a freshman journalism major at Penn State. Hailing from the great state of Texas, he is a die hard Dallas sports fan. You'll often see him voicing his complaints about the Cowboys play calling on Twitter @cgill214.

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