Laubach Leads PSU Softball to Extra-Inning Victory Over Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Junior hurler Marlaina Laubach (Northampton, Pa.) led Penn State softball to a 4-1 nine-inning victory over Rutgers University Saturday, Mar. 26. The victory clinches the series win for the Nittany Lions, marking the first season-opening Big Ten Conference road series victory in the history of Penn State softball.

(Photo of Laubach courtesy of Penn State Athletics)

With the win Penn State improves to 13-14 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten action, while Rutgers falls to 15-18 overall and 0-2 in conference play.

Freshman Tori Dubois (Mt. Vernon, N.H.) came in as pinch hitter for the Blue and White with bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning and drove in the game-winning run on a single to shallow left field. Senior Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) extended her reached base streak to 17 games drawing two walks and bringing in a run. Junior Shelby Miller (Sugar Land, Texas), Alyssa VanDerveer (Hillsborough, N.J.) and Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) all had two hits apiece for the Blue and White, while Jones, Dubois, Knief and Reina Furuya (Waihapu, Hawaii) all plated one run.

Laubach pitched all nine innings for the Blue and White, improving to 5-5 overall on the season giving up just eight hits, striking out four and not giving up an earned run.

Stephanie Huang and Carly Todd led the Scarlet Knights at the dish with two hits apiece, while RU’s lone run was unearned on a Penn State error and stolen base. Dreseden Maddox suffered the loss for Rutgers, tossing eight innings with two strikeouts.

After Rutgers retired two batters on two pitches in the top of the first inning, Miller started a two-out rally with a single off the right field wall followed by a single from VanDerveer deep in the hole at short stop to put runners on first and second for Knief. Knief dug in and laced a first pitch single up the middle, scoring Miller and giving Penn State the early 1-0 lead over RU.

The Scarlet Knights knotted the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second using a Penn State error on an attempted sacrifice bunt, moving the runner to third before a double steal with runners on the corners plated the tying run for RU.

Rutgers looked to take its first lead of the series in the bottom of the third inning when Huang led off the inning with a double down the first base line and advanced to third with one out, but the Penn State defense shut down the threat with a foul out and fly out to close out the inning.

The Nittany Lion offense struggled against Maddox in the next four innings, going three up three down before VanDerveer roped a one-out single to left center in the top of the sixth inning. Penn State was unable to bring in the run as a sacrifice bunt attempt got Sam Shanahan (Seattle, Wash.) at second and a foul out down the first base line ended the offensive threat for the Blue and White.

Rutgers was unable to bring any runs across the plate as the Nittany Lions defense forced the Scarlet Knights to stranded five runners over the course of five innings.

After going 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh order the Penn State defense stepped up to record a 1-2-3 inning of its own capped off with a Laubach strikeout sending the game to extra innings. The Blue and White looked to start its second two-out rally of the game with a Miller single up the middle but a fly out to center field ended the inning for the Nittany Lion offense in the top of the eighth.

With neither team scoring in the top of the eighth, Penn State loaded the bases on back-to-back singles from Knief and Brackpool and anErin Pond (Lagrange, Ohio) bunt before Dubois stepped in as a pinch hitter and placed a shallow single into left center for the go-ahead run and no outs. The Blue and White added two final security runs with back-to-back bases loaded walks to take a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning.

Penn State looked to have a quick inning but after the first two outs were recorded a single, an error and a walk loaded the bases for the Scarlet Knights with two outs. With bases load, Laubach again was clutch for the Blue and White in the circle fanning the final batter on a low and outside pitch to secure the 4-1 victory.

The Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights conclude the series with an Easter Sunday contest, Mar. 27. First pitch of the series finale is slated for noon at the RU Softball Complex.

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