After dropping the first three games of the series to No. 19 Michigan, two of which were mercy-rule defeats, Penn State looked to salvage the last game and get its sixth win of the season.
The Wolverines jumped out in front early and Penn State couldn’t recover as it lost 5-3 and fell victim to a four-game sweep.
Bailey Parshall was in the circle and the Wolverines pounced early with a leadoff triple by Lexie Blair, and an error at third allowed Blair to score to make it 1-0. The bleeding didn’t stop there as Michigan’s Lou Allan smashed a home run off the scoreboard in left field to make it 3-0 early.
After that, Parshall was able to settle down and retire the next three batters in order to end the half inning.
The Nittany Lions couldn’t muster any offense in the first as they went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.
Kylee Lingenfelter took over for Parshall and didn’t fare any better as a leadoff double, bunt single and sacrifice fly made it 4-0 in the top of the second.
Michigan’s Alex Storako was dealing once again as she set the Nittany Lions down in order.
After the bases were loaded in the top of the third, Lingenfelter walked home a run as the lead for the Wolverines increased to 5-0.
The Nittany Lions got their first base runner with a third inning, no-out walk to Lexie Black. Storako didn’t let that impact her game as she struck out the next three batters.
In the top of the fourth, Penn State was finally able to cool off Michigan’s offense as Lingenfelter produced a 1-2-3 inning. Lingenfelter repeated this in the top of the fifth again, setting down the Wolverines in order.
In the bottom of the fifth, Penn State finally got on the board with a leadoff solo home run over the right field wall by Ally Kurland to make it 5-1.
Melody Coombs singled to leadoff the bottom of the sixth. Kennedy Legg was hit by a pitch shortly after and then Melina Livingston doubled to trim Penn State’s deficit to 5-2. An RBI groundout by Kurland allowed another run to score to make it 5-3.
In what looked like a promising possible comeback, the Nittany Lions were sent down in order in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.
Nittany Lions get in early hole
After being mercy-ruled twice Saturday, coach Clarisa Crowell’s team couldn’t afford to give up early runs to the Wolverines. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, they were unsuccessful at doing so.
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Timely hitting and a home run allowed the Wolverines to jump out to a 3-0 advantage before Penn State even touched a ball.
Michigan also tacked on a single run in both the second and third innings to dominate the first half of Sunday’s game.
Seven of Penn State’s first 10 batters were retired via strikeouts, and the blue and white failed to produce any runs early on as Storako seemed to have its lineup figured out.
Strikeouts keep coming
Michigan’s Alex Storako was able to effectively handle Penn State’s lineup for much of Sunday’s game. She limited Penn State’s scoring opportunities by keeping the ball out of play.
By the bottom of the fifth, Storako had nine strikeouts and even struck out the side once.
This was nothing new for Storako as she came into this game with a 0.47 ERA and a 188 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched on the season.
The strikeouts made it hard for Penn State to get into any sort of an offensive rhythm or scrape across any runs. Storako tripped up a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a second run to come across.
Back on the road
While this weekend’s series against Michigan was certainly their hardest matchup of the season, things won’t be much easier down the stretch for the Nittany Lions. The blue and white will travel to Bloomington, Indiana next weekend for a series against the Hoosiers.
Indiana boasts a 19-16 record and is slightly above average at home with a 6-5 record in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers feature a strong pitching staff, as they shut out Michigan State in three of the four games in their series this weekend.
After that, the Nittany Lions will have a two-game series against Michigan State and then a four-game set against Minnesota to wrap up the regular season.
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