Finishing up the last of its tournament play this season, Penn State (7-16) dropped four of five games this weekend at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
The tournament proved to be the Nittany Lions’ toughest challenge of the young season, showcasing several nationally ranked teams, including No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 9/10 Texas, No. 14 Arizona, and No. 16/18 Washington.
The top-tier talent forced the Lions to utilize their bench and test their depth.
“Lots of people came through in some different situations for us. We’re going to build on that as we go into conference play,” Penn State coach Robin Petrini said.
The Lions came up short in both contests on Friday, with a 10-2 loss to Arizona (20-8) and a 8-4 defeat at the hands of Texas (27-4). The team’s offense failed to generate much offense in the two games outside of senior slugger Cassidy Bell, who homered in each contest.
On Saturday, the team followed their most lopsided defeat of the weekend, a 13-2 trouncing by Washington (21-7), with its lone win of the tournament, a 7-6 victory over DePaul.
The victory demonstrated the Lions’ offensive depth, as Macy Jones, Alyssa Sovereign and Reina Furuya each tallied one RBI, while Taylor Abeyta batted in three runs.
“Cassidy Bell definitely [comes through] every time she steps to the plate, but there are other people who are absolutely coming through as well,” Petrini said.
Freshman pitcher Macy Jones continued her stellar rookie campaign, going the distance against DePaul for her fourth complete game of the season.
Petrini lauded Jones’ play, but insisted freshmen are expected to produce as much as the older players in the lineup.
“You expect your freshmen to make an impact. There’s no freshman, sophomore, junior, senior when you get to college,” Petrini said. “You play or you don’t play.”
The Lions saw the tournament’s toughest team, No. 1-ranked Oklahoma (26-1) in their final game of the weekend on Sunday. The Sooners came out swinging, getting six runs across in the top of the first inning on their way to an 8-0 shutout. Oklahoma senior pitcher Michelle Gasciogne dominated the game from the mound for the Sooners, allowing just one hit and striking out 11 over five innings.
But holding the top-ranked Sooners to two runs over the game’s final four innings was a positive to take from the tournament, Petrini said.
Oklahoma’s prowess was on full display. The five-inning win over Penn State was Oklahoma’s 26th in 27 games and their 17th shutout.
“They deserved [the top ranking] last year and they deserve it this year,” Petrini said. “Nobody is scoring [on them]. They’re hitting a ton. And when people do happen to put the ball in play, they’re getting them out. When you do all three, that’s why you’re No 1 in the country.”