ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona softball held its home opener and first Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference doubleheader of the season on Wednesday afternoon, and the Lady Lions settled for a split with league opponent Pitt-Greensburg at Stewart Athletic Field.
Penn State Altoona (8-6, 1-1 AMCC) got off to a sluggish start, losing game one of the twinbill after letting a lead slip away. But the Lady Lions bounced back to run rule Pitt-Greensburg (5-13, 1-1 AMCC) in game two, winning 9-1 in five innings.
"I thought we were a bit rusty in the first game from not playing for almost 20 days. That said, we hit the ball well, but just left too many on base and have to clean up our base running a bit," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "In game two, we played more to our potential. Overall, I thought our pitchers and defense did a good job in both games, and we can build on a lot of good things we did today."
Game One: Pitt-Greensburg 4, Penn State Altoona 3
Penn State Altoona appeared to be cruising for a win, as the Lady Lions held a 3-1 lead through five innings. But Pitt-Greensburg rallied for three runs in the sixth, ultimately handing Penn State Altoona the loss.
Olivia Miller (West Newton, PA/Yough) went 3-for-4 for Penn State Altoona with a double and a run batted in. Sidney Lewis (Smithmill, PA/Moshannon Valley) was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk, and Abby Showers (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) was 2-for-4 with a double.
Sarah Gearhart (McVeytown, PA/Mount Union) started in the circle and was saddled with the loss. In five innings of work, Gearhart surrendered four runs in seven hits while striking out five batters. Brittney Dellaquila (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts) tossed two scoreless innings in relief, allowing three walks.
Pitt-Greensburg opened the scoring in the top of the second inning, when Tayjah White's solo home run to center put the Bobcats on the board.
Penn State Altoona strung together some hits and jumped ahead in the bottom of the third inning. Lewis' RBI single hit sharply down the right field line tied the score, and one batter later, Dellaquila's RBI base hit up the middle put the Lady Lions on top, 2-1.
Miller's RBI single to left-center in the bottom of the fifth increased Penn State Altoona's advantage to 3-1.
But Pitt-Greensburg came back with three runs in the top of the sixth. After back-to-back singles and a wild pitch started the frame, Brittany Dunn's single through the left side drove in both runners to tie the score. Later in the inning, Krista Bayus' groundout to shortstop was enough to get Dunn across, giving the Bobcats a 4-3 lead.
Penn State Altoona got the potential game-tying run to third base with one out in the seventh, but the Lady Lions were unable to cash in, suffering the game one loss.
Game Two: Penn State Altoona 9, Pitt-Greensburg 1 (Final/5 innings)
The Lady Lions broke the game open early, plating six runs in the first inning before getting three more across in the second. The team's offensive outburst, along with good pitching and defense, led to a run-rule win.
Kaitlyn Harmon (Sunbury, PA/Shikellamy) went 3-for-3 at the plate to lead the way for Penn State Altoona's hitters, finishing with a double, two RBI, and a run scored. Dellaquila was 2-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored, and Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.
Lewis started game two on the rubber and went the distance for her third victory of the season. In five innings, she allowed just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out five batters.
Penn State Altoona opened the game with a six-run bottom of the first. The Lady Lions loaded the bases when Meghan Marasti (Pittsburgh, PA/Penn-Trafford) reached on a fielder's choice, Giedroc singled, and Lewis walked. The next batter, Miller, hit into a fielder's choice to third, and a throwing error at home allowed Marasti and Giedroc to score. Dellaquila followed with a two-run single up the middle, and Harmon made it 5-0 with her RBI base hit through the right side. Later, Showers' fielder's choice grounder brought Harmon home to make it 6-0.
The Lady Lions increased their lead to 9-0 in the second inning. Lewis' sacrifice fly to center got one run across, and Harmon contributed another RBI single to give her team an eight-run lead. After Harmon's single, Dellaquila broke for home during a run-down between first and second base, scoring to make it 9-0.
Bayus' RBI double in the top of the fourth inning put Pitt-Greensburg on the board, but it was not enough to avoid the eight-run rule, as Penn State Altoona prevailed by eight after four-and-a-half innings.
Penn State Altoona softball will continue its early season homestand with two more AMCC games this Saturday, March 30. That day, the Lady Lions will host conference rival Penn State Behrend for a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Stewart Athletic Field.