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Penn State softball can't overcome home runs, falls to Minnesota

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Penn State Softball vs. Rutgers, Kurland

Catcher Ally Kurland (32) rounds third after hitting her second home run during Penn State softball's double header against Rutgers on Saturday, April 10, 2021 at Beard Field in University Park, Pa.  The Nittany Lions won the first game 4-2 and the second 4-3 against the Scarlet Knights.  

Penn State entered its final series of the season against Minnesota searching for a win to add to its program-worst regular season record.

However, the blue and white left empty handed, eventually falling 4-0.

The Nittany Lions were able to keep Minnesota quiet in the top of the first inning.

Penn State’s Kennedy Legg singled through the right side, putting Ally Kurland up at bat. Soon after, Kurland advanced to second base on a wild pitch after Legg was put out at second base.

Neither Kurland nor Legg were able to make it home, ending the first inning.

With Penn State’s Kylee Lingenfelter in the circle, Minnesota’s Katelyn Kemmetmuelle struck out swinging. Lingenfelter worked around a pair of baserunners to get out of the second.

In the bottom half, Maggie Finnegan popped up to first base, putting Melody Coombs at bat. Right after, Coombs and Lilia Crouthamel flew out to center field, closing out the second inning.

Minnesota’s Ellee Jensen and Carlie Brandt filled up second and third base in the third. Then, Minnesota’s Natalie DenHartog homered off of Lingenfelter, bringing herself, along with Jensen and Brandt, home to close out at the top of the third at 3-0.

No valuable plays were made by Penn State in the third inning, putting Minnesota at a 3-0 lead going into the fourth inning.

Not too long into the top of the fourth, Minnesota’s Sara Kinch homered to left field, putting Minnesota ahead 4-0.

Penn State went quietly in the fourth and fifth innings, keeping Minnesota’s lead at 4-0 going into the sixth.

Livingston and Legg’s attempts to get on bases were not strong enough, closing out the sixth inning at 4-0.

Michelle Leone pinch hit for Finnegan in hopes of pulling out a run in the final inning. She was hit by a pitch with two outs, but the Nittany Lion rally ended there.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Friday’s contest.

More contact, more hits, more runs

When Penn State was able to make contact with the ball, it resulted in a bad play.

Whether it was a strikeout, fly out or pop up, Penn State struggled to make solid contact that would put its batters on base.

Batting accuracy is key to making more runs. Penn State’s struggle with batting accuracy has led to its inability to make more hits, which has held it to a number of low-scoring outings.

Faster reactions on the field

In order to avoid quick outs, Penn State needs to work on quicker reactions to get to the bases.

Even when contact is made with the ball, getting to second or third base from first base hasn’t been easy for the Nittany Lions.

If they can focus on getting out of the box quicker and potentially stealing some bases, the blue and white could be in line to score more often in the future.

Need to limit opponent’s big innings

As seen at the top of the 3rd, Penn State needs higher quality pitching to limit opponents’ big innings.

Giving up home runs has been a major problem, and the Nittany Lions gave up two more Friday.

This has been an issue almost all season, putting the Nittany Lions at the program’s worst regular season record.

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