Scoring early in the game gave Penn State the edge they needed, as they swept the softball series against Michigan State over the weekend. They won the final game 6-0 on Sunday at Secchia Stadium.
Nittany Lion pitchers Christy VonPusch and Marlaina Laubach only gave up three hits the entire game.
MSU’s Kelly Smith pitched all seven innings allowing nine hits and five earned runs.
Penn State’s Lexi Kneif got the momentum going for the Nittany Lions in the top of the first by scoring the team’s first run. Knief went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and home run, and scored three of Penn State’s six runs.
MSU struggled at the plate and did not record a hit until the bottom of the fourth inning.
Penn State came out as strong as ever in the third inning. Knief started the inning off with a triple and then the bases were loaded, as MSU pitcher Smith hit Reina Furuya and walked Kasie Hatfield. Karlie Habitz hit a bunt that allowed Knief to score and Kristina Brackpool hit a single to center that brought Furuya and Hatfield home.
Laubach relieved VonPusch in the bottom of the third for Penn State. Despite hitting Jacquie Reiser in the beginning of the inning, she was able to get the next three Spartans out on groundouts.
“I give Penn State credit. Every time they needed a play, they made a big play,” Spartan head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “Even with the mistakes they did make and the errors they did make, they never gave up a big inning. They found a way to get out of it. And that’s where it’s on us. You have to capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes.”
Spartan junior Alyssa McBride got the first hit for the Spartans in the bottom of the fourth, but MSU did not see another hit until the sixth.
“We were playing to not lose instead of playing to win,” McBride said. “We didn’t really pull it together until the last few innings and by that time we were already down by several runs. So it was hard to come back from that.”
With Knief’s home run in the fourth and Furuya driving in a run from Alyssa Sovereign in the sixth, the Nittany Lions held a dominating 6-0 lead that the Spartans’ would not bounce back from.
MSU heads to Bloomington, Ind. on Wednesday to play Indiana in a doubleheader starting at 4:00 p.m.
Katie Morang is the host of In the Circle for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Softball