Battling black clouds and constant drizzle Saturday evening, Penn State softball (12-23, 3-7) tamed the Indiana Hoosiers (21-18, 5-5) to the tune of a 5-2 victory in the second game of their doubleheader.
Weather forecasts predicted rain showers starting in the early evening, and considering the 2 p.m. matchup lasted two and a half hours, it was looking as if the second game would be cut short.
Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, the second game moved at a faster pace, as it took just 39 minutes to finish the first three innings.
â€‹Starting pitcher Jordan Wheatley (2-0, 4.27 ERA) took the mound for just her sixth start of the season, and first start on the hill since March 3. Head coach Robin Petrini left Wheatley in the lineup as well, with her seeking her first base hit since March 9.
â€‹Wheatley started strong, striking leadoff hitter Jenna Abraham out, which would be one of Wheatley’s two strikeouts recorded.
â€‹Throughout the day, Petrini traipsed on the fields several times to protest calls by home plate umpire Steve Gould. Gould was collecting an arrangement of boo’s and verbal assaults from the home crowd over his tight strike zone.
â€‹“The strike zone was a little tight, but it’s one of those things you’ve got to work around and trust your defense,” said Wheatley. “We had a great defense behind us so I wasn’t too worried about it.”
The right-hander cruised through the first five innings rendering Indiana scoreless, with help from her defense who played the entire game without an error for only the third time in the past 20 games.
As if her complete game performance on the mound was not enough, Wheatley helped herself with the bat as well. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, she doubled to left-centerfield to plate the first two runs of the game. For her next at bat in the fourth inning, Wheatley worked a full count before walking and drawing a wild pitch on ball four. The wild pitch led to Shannon Hutchinson crossing the plate to put Penn State up 3-0.
Before Wheatley worked herself out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 7th, centerfielder Cassidy Bell made the day’s top play. Bell launched a bullet from the warning track to 2nd base, gunning down Indiana’s pitcher Meaghan Murphy who tested Bell’s arm in an attempt to stretch her single to a double.
Penn State ended the day with 10 hits, including two apiece from Lauren Yao and Alyssa Renwick.
â€‹The Lions and Hoosiers will face off again in the series’ rubber match Sunday at 1 p.m. Petrini would not speculate on who would be the starting pitcher for the game.