PSU Softball Splits Doubleheader with Illinois

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After falling in a close 2-1 contest in game one to Illinois, Penn State softball came back to take a 4-1 victory in game two of the doubleheader against the Fighting Illini at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field Saturday, May 7.

The Nittany Lions (29-22, 14-8 B1G) picked up their 14th Big Ten Conference victory of the season in the tail end of the doubleheader to rank as the second-most conference wins in program history. Furthermore, the Blue and White matched their win total from a season to go with at least two more game in the 2016 season to play.

Senior Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) led the Penn State offense with four hits, including a three hit game two, while driving in two RBI and scoring twice for the Blue and White, while Kristina Brackpool (Valencia, Calif.) had three hits, two RBI and touched home once. Jones notched her team-leading 11th home run of the season in game two, while Brackpool ripped her second of the season in game two of the doubleheader. Also having multi-hit outings for PSU were Reina Furuya (Waipahu, Hawaii), who tallied three hits and Alyssa VanDerveer (Hillsborough, N.J.) who had two hits and drove in one RBI.

Junior hurler Marlaina Laubach (Northampton, Pa.) suffered the tough loss in game one, throwing all seven innings and giving up eight hits while striking out four and walking two. Freshman Madison Seifert (Wildwood, Mo.) notched the win in game two, hurling the complete game and giving up just three hits.

As a team, Penn State outhit Illinois 17-11 on the afternoon with nine hits compared to the Fighting Illini’s three in game two. Ruby Rivera led Illinois at the dish with three hits, while Kylie Johnson tallied two of the three hits for UI in game two. In the circle, Breanna Wonderly pitched two complete games with one strikeout on the afternoon.

Game One: Illinois 2, Penn State 1

With a quick top of the first under their belts, the Nittany Lions loaded the bases on back-to-back hits and a hit batter with no outs in the bottom half of the inning. The Fighting Illini shut down the threat, retiring the next three batters to get out of the inning before the Blue and White could bring in a run.

The Nittany Lions continued to put pressure on the Illinois defense in the bottom of the fourth inning when Mollie Sorenson (Stephenson Ranch, Calif.) and Brackpool laced back-to-back singles followed by a Furuya bunt single to load the bases with no outs for Jones. Jones stepped into the box and fouled out to deep left field, allowing Sorenson to touch home on the sacrifice fly. A line drive at the short stop allowed the Fighting Illini to turn the double play getting the runner on second base to close out the inning before the Blue and White could do any further damage.

Illinois answered in the top of the fifth scoring two runs on two extra-base hits to take the 2-1 advantage over the Nittany Lions heading into the bottom half of the inning.

Penn State was unable to push another run across in the remainder of the game, stranding 11 baserunners and falling 2-1.

Game Two: Penn State 4. Illinois 1

Penn State took the early lead in game two when Jones ripped her team-leading 11th home run over the right field wall in the bottom of the first inning.

The Nittany Lions homered for the second time in the contest in the bottom of the fourth inning when Brackpool launched a round-tripper over the scoreboard in left field to five Penn State the 3-1 lead over the Fighting Illini.

The Blue and White extended its lead to three runs in the bottom of the fifth when Jones singles through the right side of the infield and made her way to third on a ground out before touching home on a VanDerveer single to center field. The run was the final of the game for both sides as Penn State tallied the 4-1 victory over the Fighting Illini.

The Nittany Lions close out their 2016 regular season campaign Sunday, May 8 with a Senior Day ceremony prior to the 1 p.m. game to honor their seven graduating seniors at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field.

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