Penn State Softball Sweeps Rutgers

Kristina Brackpool

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Behind a season-high 15 hits, the Penn State softball team completed the three-game sweep of Rutgers University with a 12-1 victory Sunday, Mar. 27.

(Photo courtesy of Penn State Athletics)

The Nittany Lions improve to 14-14 overall on the season and 3-0 in Big Ten Conference play marking their first conference sweep since they defeated the Scarlet Knights in three-straight games, Apr. 24-26, 2015. Furthermore the sweep marks the first Big Ten Conference opening road series win for the for the Nittany Lions and the first three-game B1G opening sweep since the conference adopted the three-game series in 2012. Prior to 2012, the Blue and White earned a league opening two-game victory over Wisconsin, Mar. 26-27, 2011.

Sophomore Mollie Sorenson led the Blue and White offensive output with three hits, three RBI and two runs, while Shelby Miller (Sugar Land, Texas) had two hits with three RBI and touching home three times. Furthermore, Alyssa VanDerveer (Hillsborough, N.J.), Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) and Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.) all had multi-hit games with two hits apiece with both VanDerveer and Brackpool bringing in two runs each.

In the circle, Madison Seifert (Wildwood, Mo.) came on in relief in the third inning to pitch three shutout innings
with five strikeouts. Between Seifert and starter Jessica Cumming (Owings, Md.) the Penn State pitching staff gave up just seven hits and one run in the five-inning contest.

For the third-straight game the Nittany Lions scored in the top of the first inning using a leadoff walk from Jones followed by a Miller home run over the right field fence. The home run marked the second of the series for Miller and the fifth of the series for the Blue and White as it launched five round-trippers in game one against the Scarlet Knights.

Senior Erin Pond (Lagrange, Ohio) led off the top of the second inning with a single in the hole at short before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt and an opposite field groundout. With the Rutgers defense pulled in on Sorenson, the sophomore second baseman slapped a ball past the short stop, plating Pond and extending the Penn State lead to 3-0. Penn State continued its two-out rally when Miller brought in her third RBI of the day on a slow rolling ball up the middle, scoring Jones from second base.

The Blue and White added three final runs on back-to-back singles from VanDerveer and Brackpool to take a comfortable 7-0 lead into the bottom half of the second inning.
Penn State kept its offensive going in the top of the third inning using three-straight one-out singles including a hard hit ball up the middle from Sorenson to plate two runs for the Blue and White.

A leadoff walk followed by three-straight infield hits for Rutgers allowed it to light up the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning. With no outs and bases loaded, Head Coach Amanda Lehotak brought Seifert in relief of Cummings as the Nittany Lions led 9-1. The freshman hurler took command in the circle, striking out three-straight batters to close out the inning for the Blue and White before any further damage was done.

Penn State tacked on its 10th run of the contest in the top of the fourth inning on back-to-back singles from Knief and Brackpool followed by a Dubois hit through the left side.

The Scarlet Knights looked to cut the Penn State lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, using three singles to load the bases with one out for Huang. Huang laced a line drive at Reina Furuya (Waihapu, Hawaii) that was easily caught to turn the double play as she caught the runner leading on third base.

After two hits in the top of the fifth inning, Rutgers made its second pitching change of the afternoon, but VanDerveer laced a single past the third baseman to bring in a run before a sacrifice fly on a diving catch in right field extended the Penn State lead to 12-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Nittany Lions open the 2016 Big Ten Conference home slate Friday, Apr. 1 when it returns to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field for a three-game series against the Spartans of Michigan State. First pitch of game one is slated for 6 p.m. Friday, Apr. 1 while game two will be featured on BTN Saturday, Apr. 2 at 3 p.m. The series will conclude Sunday, Apr. 3 with a 1 p.m. game at Beard Field.

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