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Penn State Softball Season Ended By Texas State In NCAA Regionals

Penn State softball (34-19, 12-11 Big Ten) was eliminated by Texas State (46-14, 18-6 Sun Belt) 8-4 in the NCAA Regionals on Saturday. After falling to the Bobcats on Friday, Texas State gave the Nittany Lions both their losses in the tournament.

A grand slam in the sixth inning by Piper Randolph proved the difference in the game as Penn State was only able to score one run afterward.

How It Happened

For the third straight game, Bridget Nemeth started in the circle for Penn State. She had already thrown more than 200 pitches over the last two days of action. Texas State’s first batter, Hannah Earls, beat the throw to first to start the game. Earls then stole second base a few pitches later. Nemeth worked two strikeouts after that, and the inning ended as Earls was tagged out trying to reach home.

Emily Maddock singled after Kaitlyn Morrison struck out to get Penn State moving on offense in the first. However, Maddock and Maddie Gordon were both thrown out on a double play to close the inning.

After putting two outs on the board in the top of the second inning, Penn State gave up a double to Karmyn Bass. However, Nemeth provided another strikeout to end the inning.

Liana Jones drew a walk to get Penn State going in the bottom of the second. However, no other Nittany Lions reached base and left Jones stranded.

Mady Volpe took to the circle in the third inning, giving Nemeth her first rest of the tournament. She walked Earls, the second batter she saw, who later stole second. Earls then scored on an RBI single from Sara Vanderford, who stole second herself a few pitches later. Vanderford then scored on an RBI double from Anna Jones. The Nittany Lions stopped the bleeding with a flyout from Randolph, but the damage was done as Texas State led 2-0.

Gianna Poletti got the Nittany Lions rolling in the bottom of the third with a fly ball that brought her to first base. Another fly ball from Kaitlyn Morrison one pitch later put Morrison on first and Poletti on second. The pair advanced on a fielder’s choice, as Penn State had two runners in scoring position with two outs on the board. A popout along the right foul line ended Penn State’s scoring homes, however, and left both runners stranded.

With two outs on the board in the fourth inning, Volpe walked Katarina Zarate. However, Sydney Harvey ground out one pitch later and avoided giving Penn State any trouble.

Gaby Garcia doubled to start the bottom of the fourth for Penn State. She was advanced to third by a single from Liana Jones, who stole second soon after. A home run from Audree Mendoza sent all three of them around the bases and gave Penn State a 3-2 run.

The Bobcats pulled pitcher Madison Azua after Mendoza’s home run and put Tori McCann in the circle. Azua was able to end the inning after just a few pitches, but the damage was done.

Nemeth went back to the circle in the fifth inning, quickly giving up a single Earls. Earls advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A grounder up the middle put Vanderford on first and scored Earls just before another grounder put Vanderford on second and Anna Jones on first. The Bobcats had tied the game 3-3. Another single from Randolph scored Vanderford and gave Texas State a 4-3 lead.

JJ Smith reached first base on a fielding error and loaded the bases for the Bobcats with one out recorded in the inning. Penn State secured its second out when it got Anna Jones out at home, but the bases were still loaded. A flyout from Zarate killed the inning before Texas State could do any more damage.

Maddock singled to start the bottom of the inning but was thrown out at second when Gordon singled. Gordon was then called out for leaving first base early while trying to steal second. Garcia was walked by Azua before she was pulled for Jessica Mullins. Mullins ended the inning quickly when Liana Jones lined out.

Penn State struggled on defense in the sixth inning, allowing runners to reach first and third after a bumbled run-down with Harvey. Nemeth intentionally walked Vanderford with one out on the board. The Nittany Lions got Harvey out at home, but the bases were still loaded with a single by Anna Jones. Randolph then cleared the bases with a grand slam to give Texas State an 8-3 lead. Nemeth struck out Smith to close the inning, but Penn State still had a five-run deficit to make up in six outs.

Barbanente started off the bottom of the inning with a single. Brunson followed with a hit that bounced off the center-field wall, reaching first and advancing Barbanente to second. However, Brunson and Mendoza were thrown out in a double-play, leaving Barbanente on third base with two outs. Barbanente scored on a wild pitch, making the score 8-4 just before Nemeth popped out to end the inning.

Bass walked and Zarate singled to start the seventh inning. Harvey reached first while Hutton, pinch-running for Bass, was thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice. A pop-up retired Earls before Hutton was tagged out at home one batter later to end the inning.

The top of the Nittany Lions’ order led off the bottom of the seventh inning. Morrison was struck out looking. Maddock reached first due to poor fielding by Zarate. Gordon’s hit put her on first and Maddock on third. Garcia popped out for the inning’s second out and Liana Jones flew out to right field to end the game.

Takeaways

  • Penn State had a good day on Saturday, beating UAlbany. However, the double-header was just too much to handle for the Nittany Lions.
  • Nemeth was the star of the show during the weekend, throwing nearly all of three games. While the toll showed on the freshman star, she still rose to the occasion for her team.
  • The future of Penn State could be very bright. The Nittany Lions have a good core of freshmen to build off and try to make another NCAA Tournament run.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions season is over.

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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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