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Penn State Softball Knocks Off UAlbany In NCAA Regionals

Penn State softball (34-19, 12-11 Big Ten) eliminated UAlbany (33-13, 14-6 America East) from the NCAA Regionals on Saturday afternoon in College Station, Texas.

A grand slam from Liana Jones made the difference for the Nittany Lions, as they survived their first elimination game of the tournament.

How It Happened

Bridget Nemeth started in the circle for the second straight game. UAlbany got on base early, as its second batter Morgan Petty reached second base with a hit that touched down on the warning track. Nemeth then walked Victoria Vilarchao. Penn State avoided further trouble when Mary Kate Murray popped out to right field.

Wendi Hammond started on the circle for UAlbany. Penn State couldn’t generate any offense in the first inning and went back on defense after three batters.

Nemeth retired the Great Danes in order, closing the top of the second with a strikeout. Gaby Garcia started the bottom of the second well for Penn State, recording a single. However, a failed bunt from Liana Jones resulted in a double play. A grounder to third base from Michela Barbanente then ended the inning.

Caitlyn Frederick appeared to reach first on a bunt to start the third inning, however, she was ruled out for stepping out of the batter’s box. Penn State retired the side in the next two batters.

Haylie Brunson started the bottom of the third with a bang, sending the first pitch she saw down the right-field line for a double. Audree Mendoza advanced Brunson to third on a sacrifice bunt. After Gianna Poletti was thrown out at first, Kaitlyn Morrison was walked and then stole second. However, Emily Maddock was thrown out at first to kill the Nittany Lions’ scoring hopes.

Penn State retired UAlbany in order in the fourth inning. Maddie Gordon started off the bottom of the inning strong for the Nittany Lions with a solo home run to take the 1-0 lead. A few batters later, Barbanente sent herself and Jones around the bases with a home run that hit the right foul pole. The inning ended after Brunson and Mendoza were thrown out, but Penn State still held a 3-0 lead.

Jordan Nastos led off the fifth inning with a successful bunt that put her on first base. Deanna Grahek and Caitlyn Frederick then loaded the bases as Penn State’s defense struggled with ball control. Nemeth recorded a strikeout against Caitlyn Mitros, but Morgan Petty’s triple tied the game at 3-3. Nemeth avoided further damage with another strikeout to end the inning.

Poletti began the bottom of the fifth with a single. While Morrison appeared to ground out into a double play, only Poletti was called out at second while Morrison was safe at first after a review. After Maddock popped out, Gordon hit a double that put her and Morrison in scoring position with two outs on the board. Garcia was walked in four pitches, loading the bases. Jones then cleared the bases with a grand slam to take a 7-3 lead.

After Jones’ hit, the Great Danes pulled Hammond from the circle and replaced her with Kate Powers. Powers retired Barbanente in quick order to end the inning.

Nemeth walked Nastos and up a hit to Sara Anderson back-to-back with two outs on the board. However, Nemeth responded by throwing another strikeout to end the inning.

Brunson walked and Mendoza recorded a hit to start the bottom of the sixth inning, putting them on first and second base. Amanda Mack, in the game as a pinch hitter, loaded the bases with a single. Brunson reached home on a wild pitch, making the score 8-3. Morrison’s deep shot was caught at the wall, but Mendoza scored to make it 9-3. Pinch hitter Brooke Klosowicz popped out on her first pitch and Gordon grounded out to end the inning.

Nemeth began the top of the seventh with a strike out. A pop out to second base retired UAlbany’s second batter. A groundout to third base closed out the game and gave Penn State an NCAA Regionals win.

Takeaways

  • Home runs defined Saturday’s game for Penn State, as they did on Friday. The Nittany Lions scored seven runs on home runs as they cleaned up the bases well.
  • Penn State has lost to Texas State four times this season. While the Bobcats haven’t been necessarily dominant in those games, the Nittany Lions will have to find a way to get their most important result of the season on Sunday.

What’s Next?

Penn State will face Texas State at 8 p.m. on Saturday in a rematch of Friday’s game with the Bobcats.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He covers Penn State football, among other Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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