It took nearly 14 innings, but Penn State's offense came alive at just the right time.
After being shut out the first 13 innings of the weekend series against Purdue, the Nittany Lion softball team scored a run in both the seventh and eighth innings Sunday to back another solid outing from Lisa Akamine and win, 2-1, in West Lafayette, Ind. The victory broke an eight-game losing streak against Purdue.
"All of my pitches were working pretty well," Akamine said. "And I knew my offense would come through for me."
Penn State (22-10, 2-2 Big Ten) entered the weekend on a three-game winning streak but saw it snapped on Saturday when the Boilermakers hit three home runs to beat Jackie Hill, 5-0. But for the third time since March 24, Akamine won the second game of a doubleheader or series to help the Lions earn a split despite the offense leaving a combined 17 runners on base against Purdue. The players said making contact wasn't the major problem, as it was mostly them hitting it right at the fielders.
But Akamine gave the offense time to turn it around Sunday. The sophomore, who had six wins last season, won her 11th of the season to match Hill's total. After having a 7.24 ERA through her first five appearances of the season, Akamine has lowered the number down to 2.38 with her career-high eight innings of work Sunday, when she surrendered just one unearned run. Coach Robin Petrini said Akamine did a good job getting ahead in the count and agreed with the pitcher's own assessment she is gaining confidence.
The one run against Akamine came on an error in the bottom of the seventh, when Penn State was just two outs away from the victory. The Lions had originally grabbed the 1-0 lead when Desi Giordano hit her fifth home run of the season off Suzie Rzegocki -- who pitched both games of the series -- with two outs for her team's first run of the weekend. After Penn State saw 101 pitches from Rzegocki on Saturday and almost seven more innings of work the next day, Giordano took advantage of the familiarity.
"She had the same pattern throughout the game," Giordano said. "I was waiting for a changeup."
Giordano got the pitch she anticipated and hit the low delivery over the fence.
But Purdue (16-20, 1-3) tied the game when an error by Lauren Rossi allowed Ashley Barr to come home and knot the game at 1. It was just the third error of the season by the second baseman.
The tie was short-lived, however, as Penn State responded with another two-out rally. Three straight singles from Danee Collett, Kailyn Johnson and Rossi gave the Lions the eventual winning run as Rossi atoned for her error minutes earlier. The single was Rossi's third hit of the series.
"We have fast runners so I knew they could come around and score," Rossi said. "Just make contact and make things happen."