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Penn State Softball Falls 2-0 To Maryland In Extra Innings

Penn State softball (24-7, 3-1 Big Ten) lost to Maryland (16-15, 3-1 Big Ten) 2-0 in extra innings in the opening game of its series at Beard Field Friday night.

Despite Bridget Nemeth holding Maryland scoreless until the ninth inning, Courtney Wyche threw a two-hitter in a complete game for the Terrapins en route to taking down the Nittany Lions. It was the blue and white’s first loss at home since April 11, 2023.

How It Happened

Penn State went with its star freshman pitcher Nemeth, who entered the game with a 14-0 record, while Maryland sent Wyche to the mound for the start.

Megan Mikami hit a grounder to third base and reached after outrunning the throw from Emily Maddock before stealing second. After a three-pitch strikeout from Nemeth of Jaeda McFarland, Diamond Williams also got on base with an infield single.

Sydney Lewis struck out with runners on first and second, but Nemeth then walked Mazie MacFarlane to load the bases. However, she made up for it by forcing a groundout to second base by Michaela Jones to get out of trouble and end the top of the first inning.

Kaitlyn Morrison struck out swinging in three pitches to begin the bottom of the first inning, but Emily Maddock followed by ripping one into the gap in left-center field for a standup double. Gaby Garcia then walked to get runners on first and second for Penn State.

Wyche got out of the jam by forcing a flyout to left field by Maddie Gordon and striking out Haylie Brunson in a full-count situation to end the first inning.

Nemeth gained momentum early in the second inning when struck out Sammi Woods before forcing two infield groundouts by Madison Runyan and Delaney Reefe.

On the offensive side of the second inning, Penn State couldn’t get its bats going. Liana Jones got in a full count and watched a strike go by for the first out of the inning. Wyche walked Jiselle Hernandez out of a full count, but Michela Barbanente and Amanda Mack were unable to advance her, flying out and striking out, respectively.

Mikami got another infield single to start off the third inning but got out at second on a fielder’s choice that got McFarland on base. McFarland then tried to steal second but was gunned down from behind the plate by Garcia, and Williams then grounded out to Morrison at second to send the game to the bottom of the third. Penn State sent its top three batters of the order into the box, but Wyche retired all of them in just 13 pitches.

Nemeth struck out Lewis for a second time to open the fourth inning, but MacFarlane reached first on an error by Maddock. A fielder’s choice got her out at second, and Nemeth ended the frame with another strikeout of Woods.

Th offensive struggles continued for the Nittany Lions as Gordon grounded out to third before Brunson and Jones each went down on strikes by Wyche. In the fifth inning, the pitching battle went on when Nemeth struck out Reefe in an eight-pitch at bat. Mikami’s third infield single didn’t result in any scoring as she was thrown out at second on another fielder’s choice.

Yet another three-batter inning occured for Penn State in the bottom of the fifth, and all three outs came via swinging strikeouts, which had Wyche fired up as she made her way to the dugout.

Williams began the sixth inning with a bouncer over the glove of Mack, and she was taken out by pinch runner Caitlyn Cornwell on base. However, Cornwell quickly went out on a fielder’s choice that allowed Lewis to reach first base. Woods then popped up to Morrison, who made an easy catch for the third out.

After making a few defensive substitutions, Garcia got Penn State’s only hit of the sixth inning as Morrison fouled out down the third base line and Wyche’s impressive pitching continued with strikeouts of Maddock and Gordon.

The fans at Beard Field started to bring the energy in the seventh inning, which helped Nemeth force three straight groundouts to three different infielders. However, Penn State also had a one-two-three inning in the bottom of the seventh, including two more strikeouts, sending the game to extra innings.

To begin the eighth inning, McFarland singled after hitting it to Barbanente in left field, and Williams did the exact same thing in the following at bat to get two runners on with no outs. Lewis attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Nemeth ran it down and made the catch for the inning’s first out.

Jones then followed the trend and singled to left field, loading the bases, but Nemeth got out of the jam by forcing a pop-out by Woods and fielder’s choice throwout of McFarland at third.

Although the defense worked out of the trouble, the offense still struggled. Barbanente and Morrison each struck out by swinging at fastballs, while Jenna Nelson popped up to first base to send it to a ninth inning.

Runyan hit a hard attempt to Hernandez at shortstop, who couldn’t make a play in time, and she reached first to begin the ninth inning. Reefe then popped up to Mack on a bunt attempt for the first out, but Mikami reached on another infield single to second base.

With runners on first and second and one out, McFarland roped a fastball into left-center field, which just beat a diving Barbanente and rolled to the wall. Runyan and Mikami each rounded third without any hesitation and scored, giving Maryland the first lead of the game at 2-0.

Williams and Lewis each grounded out to end the inning, and the pressure was put back onto the bats of Penn State.

Maddock walked to begin the bottom of the ninth, but it didn’t matter as Garcia and Gordon each struck out swinging, and Brunson grounded out to end the game in a 2-0 loss, the first for Penn State in the last 10 games.

Takeaways

  • Penn State had trouble with Wyche’s breaking balls as they were swinging early and getting out in front of them, and her variation of speed proved to be an issue.
  • The Nittany Lions lost their first game at Beard Field in almost a year but not at the fault of the fans who brought the energy late in the game.
  • The hot bats of the blue and white couldn’t generate any offense for the entirety of the game, and the nine-game win streak came to an end because of it.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return to Beard Field at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, for the second game of the series against Maryland on Little League & Kids and Dollar Dog Day. The game will be broadcast on BTN+.

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About the Author

Michael Siroty

Michael Siroty is a freshman from Westfield, New Jersey, majoring in broadcast journalism. When he isn't writing articles or making TikToks for Onward State, Siroty is either taking a peaceful walk around Beaver Stadium or at his summer day camp job. You can contact him to discuss your sushi order or music taste on Instagram and Twitter @msiroty or by email at [email protected].

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