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Penn State Softball Earns 9-6 Comeback Win Over Maryland


Penn State softball (25-7) rallied back from a 5-0 deficit to defeat Maryland (16-16) 9-6 on Saturday. Strong hitting for the Nittany Lions allowed the team to earn itself a comeback victory at Beard Field. 

How It Happened

Paige Maynard started on the mound for the Nittany Lions. She gave up a hard-hit single to Megan Mikami, the first batter of the game. Mikami stole second during the next at bat, putting her in scoring position early on. After a flyout to left field secured the first out, Diamond Williams hit an opposite field, two-run blast as Maryland took a 2-0 lead. Another hard-hit ball to third gave the Terrapins their third hit of the inning, but a flip to second on a grounder to shortstop ended the frame.

The bottom of the first was slow for Penn State, going three up, three down. Kaitlyn Morrison and Emily Maddock both flied out to start the frame, and Gaby Garcia struck out on a full count.

After a groundout to shortstop started the inning for Maryland, Madison Runyan reached on a ball that bounced off the glove of Maddock playing third. She moved to second on a passed ball. The second out of the inning came courtesy of a flyout to Michela Barbanente in left field.

An error on Penn State shortstop Jiselle Hernandez put runners on the corners for the Terrapins, prompting a pitching change, and Mady Volpe came into the game for the Lions. She was unable to escape the jam, as Jaeda McFarland sent a three-run shot over the right centerfield wall, giving Maryland a 5-0 lead. A groundout to second was the end of an ugly inning for Penn State.

Maddie Gordon led off the bottom of the second strong for the Lions, notching a single up the middle for Penn State’s first hit of the game. Haylie Brunson flied out to left in the next at bat. With Liana Jones at the plate, Gordon took off for second, stealing the base with ease. After Jones struckout, Hernandez lined an RBI single off the top of the right field wall, as Gordon came around to score. Penn State got on the scoreboard trailing 5-1. A groundout to the shortstop ended the inning.

The top of the third inning began with a beautiful defensive play by Penn State. First baseman Gianna Poletti fielded a ground ball in a diving effort, getting up and stepping on the bag for the put away. Volpe followed it up with a strikeout. Michaela Jones of Maryland appeared to have hurt her left leg in the next at bat.

The game took a brief pause as Jones shook it off and returned to the box. She popped the ball up to shallow right field, but a charging Gordon from right and Morrison from second couldn’t make the play. Jones stole third in the following at bat, with a close call from the umpire. A popout to shortstop ended the frame scoreless.

Barbanente lined out to right to begin the bottom of the third for the Nittany Lions. Morrison reached on a single off of the third baseman’s glove. Maddock grounded out, as Morrison advanced into scoring position. Garcia lined a hit into left field, as Morrison scored the second run of the game for Penn State, now trailing 5-2. Gordon was the next batter up, smashing a two-run home run down the first base line, bringing the Lions to within one. The score was now 5-4 in favor of Maryland.

A pitching change for the Terrapins brought Julia Shearer into the game, replacing teammate Bri Godfrey. Brunson lined a single up the middle, unfazed by the new pitcher. Jones followed the hit with a towering two-run shot to right center as Penn State rallied down from 5-0 to take a 6-5 lead. A soft groundout put the inning in the books, but the damage had been done by the Nittany Lions.

Maryland went three up, three down in the top of the fourth, as the rain started to come down in Happy Valley.

The bottom of the fourth started off with a fielding error for the Terrapins as a bobbled ball and overthrow by the second baseman allowed Poletti to reach second. A sacrifice bunt by Barbanente moved Poletti over to third. Morrison hit a fly ball into center in the next at bat, but it was caught thanks to an incredible diving effort by McFarland. Poletti was able to tag up, giving Penn State a 7-5 lead.

Bridget Nemeth came into pitch for the Nittany Lions in the top of the fifth. She began her relief appearance with a backwards K to McFarland. The next batter reached on an error by Hernandez and was replaced by pinch runner Caitlyn Cornwell. Nemeth struckout the next batter of the game on a strike three swing.

A hit up the middle by Mazie MacFarlane followed by an overthrow into the dugout by Jones allowed Cornwell to score and the batter to advance to third. The score was now 7-6 in favor of Penn State. Bridget fielded the third out of the inning herself, throwing it over to first to end the frame.

After a brief conference between the umpires and coaches, the decision was made that the game would continue despite the pouring rain. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Courtney Wyche came into pitch for Maryland. Garcia started the frame by sending a solo shot over the fence in left field, extending the Nittany Lion lead to 8-6. Brunson struck out swinging on a low pitch for the first out. Jones worked a walk in the next at bat, but a strikeout by Hernandez ended the inning.

Indiana went 1-2-3 in the sixth with the frame ending on Nemeth’s third strikeout of the game.

Penn State began the bottom of the sixth with a walk by Poletti. A sacrifice bunt by Barbanente moved her over to second, and a passed ball in the next at bat allowed Poletti to advance to third. A bloop single by Morrison drove in a run as the Nittany Lions took a 9-6 lead.

A perfect bunt by Maddock allowed her to reach, but Morrison was thrown out at third after trying to extend the play. Maddock moved to second after another passed ball by Wyche. A ground ball to second and a nice scoop at first made for the third out.

The top of the seventh began with a quick groundout and flyout for Maryland, but a full count walk gave the Terrapins life with two gone. A great catch against the wall by Barbanente ended the game and secured a 9-6 win for Penn State.  

Takeaways

  • Penn State won the game on a combination of small ball and power hitting. The Nittany Lions had three home runs in the game and 10 hits.
  • The Nittany Lions adapted quickly to pitching changes as many of their hits and RBIs coming after a new player took the mound.
  • It was a messy game defensively for both Maryland and Penn State with five combined errors. Capitalizing off of these fielding mistakes allowed the Nittany Lions to keep momentum.

What’s Next?

Penn State will return to action at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 31, for the rubber game of the series against Maryland. There will be an Easter egg hunt at Beard Field for the matchup, and streaming will be available on BTN+.

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About the Author

Jamie Lynch

Jamie is a first-year DUS student from Chappaqua, NY. He loves to swim and is a member of the club team here at Penn State. Jamie is also in the Schreyer Honors College, and wishes there was an advanced course in college football fandom (scored 118/133 on the mascot quiz). Avid ping-pong player, dairy lover, and has met two U.S. Presidents, in case anyone was wondering. If you have anything to share, or want to debate the AP Poll with someone, email [email protected] or reach out on instagram @jamie.ly3.

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