After its series-concluding game against Ohio State was canceled Monday, Penn State entered the weekend still in search of its first home win of the year.
In a doubleheader against Rutgers, the Nittany Lions would drop the first leg 3-2, but would respond with a 10-3 throttle-job of the Scarlet Knights in the second game.
The first game was a defensive battle with neither team putting a runner across through the game’s first four innings.
The blue and white’s defense was stout during this span, catching a Rutgers runner stealing in the first and recording a double play in the second. Bailey Parshall was a key contributor, starting and registering seven strikeouts.
The game’s first score came in the fifth inning, when a double from the Scarlet Knights’ Kayla Bock batted in two to give Rutgers the lead.
Penn State immediately responded, however, as Lilia Crouthamel dialed up a single in the latter half of the inning and subsequently stole second before being plated on a triple from Ally Kurland to make the score 2-1.
Rutgers would keep the pressure on with a one run home run from Anyssa Iliopoulous in the sixth to regain its two-run lead. Half an inning later, Maggie Finnegan singled and eventually made it to third, but was stranded there to leave the score at 3-1.
In the Lions’ last opportunity in the seventh, Dani Fey reached on a fielder’s choice, and made it to third with a single from Kurland. Melina Livingston then batted in Fey on a single of her own, but Rutgers held to secure a 3-2 win.
The second game began with more offensive production from the Scarlet Knights, as back-to-back RBI doubles gave them a two-run lead in the first inning. Melody Coombs responded with a single, and was ultimately batted in on another single from Kaitlyn Morrison. Two more Nittany Lions reached base, but were stranded to end the first inning 2-1 in favor of Rutgers.
Penn State’s offense would light up the second inning, with Lilia Crouthamel recording her first collegiate home run to tie the game at two. Two ensuing hits and a walk would load the bases, setting up an RBI single from Finnegan. With the bases still loaded, a Morrison walk put one more across.
Two more runs were added off a single from Kennedy Legg, and a sacrifice fly brought Morrison home to give Penn State a 7-2 lead entering the third.
The Scarlet Knights would add another run in the third before a scoreless fourth inning from either side.
In the fifth, Rutgers managed to load the bases, but the Nittany Lions’ defense stranded all three runners to preserve their four-run advantage.
The blue and white would itself load the bases in that inning that allowed Livingston to plate two runs on her single.
One inning later, Kennedy Legg would place a cherry atop the win, blasting a one-run home run to center field to make the score 10-3, where it would end at.
Here are some takeaways from the doubleheader under the lights.
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Early-inning offense was the key to victory Friday in Penn State and Michigan State’s doubleheader.
Parshall, defense poised in first game
After a strong showing last Saturday in which she recorded five strikeouts, Parshall again pitched a fine game for Penn State.
Entering the game 10th in the Big Ten with 57 strikeouts, the left-hander’s seven in the first game increased that number to 64.
It was the third time in her last four games that Parshall had five strikeouts or more.
The rest of the defense joined Parshall's effort, not committing an error in either game.
Especially after giving up nine runs to Ohio State, the defense was in need of a solid performance like this.
Entering the game with a .162 team batting average, the Nittany Lions were looking for some offensive production.
Although it took five innings in the first game, they found some.
The blue and white recorded five hits in the opening game, including two from Ally Kurland.
The effort nearly came at just the right time, as the seventh frame saw two hits and runners on first and second before the final out.
The momentum would continue in the second game, with the blue and white registering seven hits through the game’s first two innings and 11 overall, with Livingston, Crouthamel, and Legg each having two.
Despite the loss, it was a move in the right direction for the previously snakebitten Nittany Lions.
Finnegan, Coombs continue solid play
Although Penn State’s hitting has struggled this season, Maggie Finnegan and Melody Coombs have been on solid runs as of late.
With her pair of singles across both games Friday, Finnegan now has 10 in nine games since March 26, enough to lead the team.
Melody Coombs also increased her hit total, as the freshman has nine on the season, which is tied with Michelle Leone.
The production of these three, a freshman in Coombs and two sophomores in Leone and Finnegan, is encouraging for the Nittany Lions’ future as Clarisa Crowell’s tenure progresses.
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