Penn State entered Saturday trying to avoid an extension of its two-game losing streak.
Against No. 19 Michigan in a Saturday doubleheader, the Nittany Lions instead endured a difficult afternoon, falling in back-to-back six-inning games 10-0 and 12-2, respectively.
Michigan was consistently on the throttle, racking up a total of 29 hits through both games. It also applied pressure early on, opening the second game with a four-run first inning.
Meanwhile, Penn State had six hits against a top-tier Michigan pitching corps that features Alex Storako and Meghan Beaubien.
Coach Clarisa Crowell spoke about the two losses, mentioning she felt her team was “outplayed” in all aspects of the game.
“They hit better, and they pitched and they played defense better than us,” Crowell said. “It just wasn’t our day, but tomorrow will be a better day.”
Heading into the series finale, the team has a similar responsibility as in weeks’ past.
Earlier this season, it managed to materialize a comeback effort against Nebraska after losing three straight to the Cornhuskers, and responded to a doubleheader sweep at Maryland last weekend with a 1-0 shutout of the Terrapins.
Crowell expressed optimism of the same being possible, especially with Penn State’s star pitcher returning to the circle.
“Bailey will get back out there on the mound, she always gives us a chance to win,” Crowell said. “I’m gonna guess they’re gonna throw Storako, and our hitters were able to see her once today, and kind of like we showed with Beaubien the second time through, we typically have better at-bats.”
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Penn State’s Big Ten Tournament run was brought to an early end by Johns Hopkins.
The Nittany Lions did swing better against Beaubien Saturday, notching four hits compared to just one in Friday’s affair. But on both occasions, four were left on base.
Crowell acknowledged this while mentioning the inherent challenge of playing Storako and Beaubien.
“These two are probably gonna be All-Americans,” Crowell said of the Wolverines’ duo. “They are pretty tough, so it’s obviously been challenging for our hitters.”
This season, Storako and Beaubien are ranked first and second in ERA, strikeouts, and opposing batting average in the Big Ten, respectively. Storako has also allowed just 10 runs.
Crowell also commended freshman Melody Coombs and said she “stepped up” with a two RBI single that gave Penn State its only score of the day.
Coombs has indeed been a bright spot, as it was her sixth inning one-run home run Friday, which was her third of the season, that prevented the blue and white from being shut out.
As for the entirety of the offensive lineup, Crowell mentioned a need to “stay focused on the process.”
“Our approach really isn’t any different when we’ve got runners in scoring position,” Crowell said. “We’ve just gotta be able to swing at a good pitch and get a good barrel to it.”
Closing its penultimate home series, it goes without saying that the blue and white will aim to use all means necessary to take down the Wolverines.
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