After nine straight losses to open the year, Penn State now has double-digit defeats without recording a win.
In a doubleheader against Illinois in Leesburg, Florida, it again was not meant to be for the Nittany Lions as they fell in both games by scores of 1-0 and 2-1, respectively.
The first game began much like Friday’s game against Iowa, with neither side scoring early on. The Fighting Illini recorded four hits through three innings, but Kylee Lingenfelter and the Nittany Lions’ defense held them at bay.
Illinois got its first run in the bottom of the fourth after an infield error allowed Kelly Ryono, who had hit a triple, to score. The Nittany Lions did not respond the rest of the way en route to a narrow 1-0 loss, their 10th of the season.
The second game saw its first score come an inning earlier, with Illinois plating one in the top of the third inning. Half an inning later, Dani Fey reached second base off of an Illinois error, then to third of a sacrifice bunt, and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to center. This tied the game at one, and put the Nittany Lions on the board for the first time in either game.
The score stayed tied at one until the Illini plated one more in the sixth inning. Kennedy Legg made it to third base in the bottom of the seventh to potentially tie the game, but was stranded there to end the game at a score of 2-1 in favor of the Illini. Penn State was no-hit in this contest.
As a result, Clarisa Crowell’s group is now 0-11 in as many games.
Here are some key points to take away:
Another dominant day defensively for both sides
Coming off of back-to-back games that went to extra innings, Penn State found itself in a similar defensive battle in Saturday’s first leg.
The Nittany Lion defense bent, giving up six hits, but stranded as many Illini runners and gave up only the one run. Lingenfelter recorded four strikeouts.
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Penn State was looking for revenge on Iowa Friday morning.
The defensive effort was not without misfortune however, as the aforementioned infield error allowed Illinois to score said only run of the game.
Meanwhile, Penn State’s offense was stifled by the Illini in both games. In the first, Illinois pitcher Sydney Sickels pitched a perfect game through six innings before Ally Kurland recorded a single in the seventh frame. 10 other Nittany Lions were struck out.
Sickels then no-hit the Lions in the second game, with three Illinois errors being the reason Penn State reached base.
Penn State pitchers solid
Against Illinois, pitching was not a major problem for Penn State. Lingenfelter’s four strikeouts were followed by seven from Bailey Parshall, three of which came consecutively in the fourth inning.
Despite the losing streak, Parshall has been a bright spot for the team, as she has now recorded 38 strikeouts in six games played.
The three total runs allowed were also an improvement. Prior to the last three games, the blue and white had let up at least three runs in each of its games.
It should also be seen as a positive considering Illinois entered the day with a 7-2 record.
Another close loss for Penn State
In the Nittany Lions’ 11 losses, the previous four have been by two runs or less.
And in each of those four games, the blue and white hung tough, and led at times, only to come up just short late.
Penn State stayed with Iowa through 12 innings on Thursday and eight on Friday, then came within one run in both legs against Illinois on Saturday. This team appears close to victory, but will have to come up stronger when needed most.
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