BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Penn State Altoona softball opened its 2018 schedule on Friday afternoon with a doubleheader split against non-conference opponent Bridgewater College at Fulk Field.
Penn State Altoona (1-1) won 3-2 in game one before losing 5-3 in a darkness-shortened nightcap.
"Really good opportunity to take an early look at the team. I thought we pitched well, fielded well, and got to look at every player available today. I am pleased with the number of hits we had, but we still need to do better with runners on base," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "Coming south for the first time and getting on dirt in February was a good experience, and we think we have a really good group of athletes."
Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) and Abby Showers (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) each went 2-for-4 at the plate for Penn State Altoona in game one of the doubleheader, while Kelsey Bristol (Troy, PA/Troy) was 1-for-2 with a double, two runs scored, and two walks.
Sidney Shultz (Runville, PA/Bald Eagle) started in the circle for the Lady Lions, pitching five innings and limiting Bridgewater to a pair of runs on six hits and three walks. Faith Barnett (Todd, PA/Tussey Mountain) made her first collegiate appearance and recorded the win, pitching two scoreless innings in relief and giving up only three walks while striking out one batter.
Penn State Altoona grabbed a lead in the first inning of game one, relinquished it in the fourth, then jumped back ahead in the seventh.
In the top of the first, the Lady Lions set the table and took advantage of a pair of Bridgewater errors. Showers and Giedroc started the inning with base hits, and each player came around to score on an error to help Penn State Altoona get out to a 2-0 lead.
Bridgewater (1-1) knotted the score 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth on Carlita Tibbs' two-run double off of the center field fence.
After scoreless fifth and sixth innings, Penn State Altoona avoided extras by plating a run in the top half of the seventh and keeping the home team off of the scoreboard in the bottom half.
Bristol led off the seventh with a double to right, and she scored on an error to put the Lady Lions up 3-2. Barnett pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh to help her team clinch the season-opening victory.
In game two, Showers posted another two-hit performance, going 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run scored. Giedroc was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
Emily Strouse (Beech Creek, PA/Central Mountain) made her first collegiate start at pitcher, going 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts. She yielded five runs and was saddled with the loss.
Penn State Altoona grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Showers' RBI single up the middle opened the scoring, and Giedroc's two-run double to left-center gave the Lady Lions a three-run lead.
Bridgewater got a run back in the bottom of the third when Lindsey Talley's RBI hit made it 3-1, and Brianna Whorley's run-scoring single in the fourth cut Penn State Altoona's lead to 3-2.
The Eagles jumped ahead in the fifth inning. Sydney Layman's bunt single drove in the game-tying run before Stephanie Carroll's two-run base hit made it 5-3. The game was called with one out in the bottom of the fifth due to darkness.
Next up for Penn State Altoona softball is the team's annual trip south to compete during spring break. This season, the Lady Lions will head to Fort Myers, Fla. to take part in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, facing 10 different teams from across the country in the span of six days. Penn State Altoona's participation in the Classic gets underway on Sunday, March 4, when the Lady Lions take on Elms College at 11:00 a.m. and Drew University at 1:00 p.m., with both games being played at North Collier Regional Park.