Where did that come from?
All of a sudden, the Penn State softball and baseball teams are on a roll. To say that these teams started slowly this season would be an understatement, but both teams completed sweeps over the weekend and both are seeing their seasons turn around very quickly.
Nothing pumps up a team more than a walk-off, extra-inning home run, and that is exactly what happened when the PSU softball team completed its sweep of Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. Locked in a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 9th inning, sophomore Casie Hatfield roped a two-run homer over the left-center field wall that gave the Lions a 7-5 victory and a three-game sweep of the Spartans.
Hatfield, who was 7-11 in the series with five RBIs, hit the first pitch from MSU’s Carly Nielsen and extended Penn State’s winning streak to four games. Lisa Akamine got her second win of the series, allowing four runs on eight hits in seven innings of work and added seven strikeouts to bring her total to 19 for the weekend.
Penn State took the first game in the series, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon after scoring all four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. MSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but Penn State roared right back. Hatfield, Alyssa Renwick, Alyssa Sovereign, and pinch-hitter Morgan Long all had RBI hits in the inning, and pitcher Marissa Diescher held off the Spartans the rest of the way to record her second win of the week.
In the second game, Penn State again fell behind by three runs, but two four-spots in the second and third innings propelled the Lions to an 11-5 win. Penn State crashed 16 hits in the game, including homers by Cassidy Bell, Sovereign, and Lauren Yao. Hatfield added four hits and two RBIs, while Yao and Liz Presto chipped in three each. Akamine was the winning pitcher, allowing three hits and two runs in six innings.
Penn State will put its winning streak on the line when Temple comes to visit on Wednesday for a double header at Beard Field.
Meanwhile, over at Medlar Park on Sunday, sophomore Zach Eli’s walk-off hit in the bottom of the 9th inning against Canisius might not have been a home run, but it was close enough. With two outs and Aaron Novak on second base, Eli ripped a double to deep left-center field that scored Novak and gave the Lions a 4-3 victory and a sweep of the Griffins.
It was Penn State’s sixth consecutive win, and it improved the Lions record to 13-18 overall and 2-4 in the conference.
In Saturday’s first game, left fielder Sean Deegan and first baseman Jordan Steranka both notched five RBIs as Penn State jumped out to a 12-3 lead on the way to a 15-5 win. PSU had 12 hits in the game, including homers by Deegan and Steranka, and got six innings of solid work on the mound by John Walter to record the win.
In the nightcap, PSU and Canisius went into the 11th inning tied at three, and Deegan came through again. He hit a one-out single that scored catcher Alex Farkes win the winning run in Penn State’s 4-3 victory. Tim Dunn got the win for the Lions after 2.2 perfect innings in relief of starter Joe Kurrasch. Shortstop Elliot Searer also had two hits and an RBI in the game.
Penn State now travels to Pittsburgh on Wednesday and then returns home next weekend for what looks to be a fireworks-filled series against Michigan.