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Penn State Softball Takes Series Against Nebraska 2-1

Penn State softball (28-8, 7-2 Big Ten) earned another series win against Nebraska (23-15, 6-2 Big Ten) on the road. The Nittany Lions took the first and third games while the Cornhuskers took the second.

Penn State’s offense struggled at times throughout the series, but the Nittany Lions cranked out some home runs when they needed it most to notch their third straight series win against Big Ten teams.

How It Happened

Game One

Nebraska drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning when Billie Andrews reached first on a fielding error from Penn State and was advanced to third by a double from Brooke Andrews. A passed ball at the plate allowed Andrews to score, giving Nebraska an early 1-0 lead.

The bats went cold for the next five innings, as both squads combined for just five hits and left six runners on base until the top of the sixth inning came around for the Nittany Lions. To start crunch time, Gabby Garcia reached first on a one-out walk that was followed by Maddie Gordon blasting a homerun down the left field line, scoring Garcia and herself. Back-to-back groundouts from Haylie Brunson and Liana Jones ended the inning, but Penn State snagged a 2-1 lead thanks to Gordon.

Nebraska was unable to answer, failing to reach base during their next two at-bats, giving the Nittany Lions a 2-1 victory.

Bridget Nemeth was a major factor in the low-scoring win, recording four strikeouts and limiting Nebraska’s offense to just two hits.

Game Two

With Nemeth getting some rest, Mady Volpe took the circle for Penn State to start game two. The Nittany Lions’ offense went three up, three down to start the first inning. The bats for Nebraska got off to a hot start, as Billie and Brooke Andrews knocked back-to-back singles through to put runners on first and second with no outs. However, Penn State’s defense rallied, nabbing three straight outs to get out of the inning untouched.

Another three-batter inning for Penn State’s offense sent Nebraska back to the plate where it got its scoring started. Peyton Cody started it off by reaching first on a Penn State fielding error. Shortly after, Katelyn Caneda popped up to centerfield, but a fielding error allowed her to reach second and score Cody from first base to give Nebraska a 1-0 lead.

Once again, Penn State sent only three batters to the plate to start the third, all of whom failed to reach a base. Nebraska continued to build momentum off of the poor offensive start for the Nittany Lions. A lead-off walk from Brooke Andrews was followed by an Ava Bredwell single put runners on first and second with no outs to start the bottom of the third. Samantha Bland was called out at first after a sacrifice bunt, but advanced both runners. Cody snuck a single up the middle of the infield, scoring Brooke Andrews and Bredwell to add to the 3-0 Nebraska lead.

Finally, Penn State got rolling, as Kaitlyn Morrison homered down the left-field line. Shortly after, Gordon reached on a double and was then scored by Jones, who also doubled, making it a 2-3 ball game.

A quick 1-2-3 inning for the Penn State defense stole some momentum back from the Cornhuskers, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t do anything with it as Michela Barbanente was left stranded on first as the top of the fifth ended.

Nebraska took the game and ran with it, going nuclear in the bottom of the fifth. They sent eight batters to the plate, scoring seven runs on five hits. The late offensive explosion for the Cornhuskers tied the series up 1-1 with their 10-2.

Game Three

Penn State went three up three down to start the top of the first. Nemeth took the circle for the Nittany Lions, quickly giving up a leadoff single to Billie Andrews. Nemeth did settle in, forcing a pop-out and striking out the next two batters after Brooke Andrews reached first.

The Nittany Lions hit the ground running in the second inning, as Garcia drew a leadoff walk and was then advanced to third by a Jones double. Brunson joined the action, knocking a double to center field that scored Garcia and Jones, giving Penn State a 2-0 lead.

Nebraska answered with a strong two-out rally in the bottom of the second. Bella Bacon doubled to left field and was then scored by a single from Caitlynn Neal who got to second from a defensive throwing error. Caneda then doubled to center, scoring Neal and tying up the ball game at 2-2.

Both squads were once again in a gridlock as the score stayed at 2-2 for five innings. Penn State managed to put a runner on in the sixth as Gordon reached base on a single, but was left stranded as the inning came to a close.

In the bottom of the sixth, Nebraska did some two-out damage as Bacon singled to right field, followed by a Neal homerun to centerfield to put Nebraska up 4-2 as we entered the top of the seventh inning.

With time working against Penn State, Jones knocked a leadoff double down the leftfield line. Brunson flew out to center for the first out of the inning. Just as they wrote it up, Nemeth crushed a homerun to center field to tie the ball game up at 4-4. With a new breath of life, the Nittany Lions headed into the bottom of the seventh with no choice but to get three outs and get another trip to the plate.

Penn State made a crucial mistake to start the inning, as a routine pop fly was dropped by Nemeth, who was bumped by her third basemen, causing her to drop an easy out. With a runner on first with no outs, Brooke Andrews laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced the runner to second. Nemeth struck out the next batter with just three pitches but hit the next batter, putting another runner on base. Nemeth then struck out the final batter of the seventh, bringing us to extra innings.

Morrison beat the throw to first on a ground ball to second to put a leadoff man on. Maddock slapped a ball to third where the fielder elected to get Morrison out at second. Gordon came up to the plate with one out and a runner on first but struck out. Garcia then grounded out to third, ending the at-bat for Penn State.

Neal reached first on a two-out single for Nebraska but was left stranded as Caneda flew out to center to end the eighth inning.

After a couple of grueling extra innings, Morrison drilled a home run in the top of the 10th inning to put all the pressure on Nebraska to answer in the bottom of the 10th.

Two straight groundouts brought Cody to the plate with two outs, who drilled a home run to make it interesting at 6-5. However, the Cornhuskers could not complete a comeback effort, as Penn State took the final game of the series.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return home to kick off another weekend series against Michigan State at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 12, for their annual Pink Game.

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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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