Drifton, Pa. - The Lady Lions were eliminated on Monday from the Penn State University Athletic Conference Championship Tournament in a rematch with Penn State Beaver. Hazleton topped their western rival in round two, but struggled to produce scores when the two teams met again, resulting in a 6-1 defeat and a third place finish in the conference tournament.
PSUAC Championship Round 5:
Penn State Beaver 6, Penn State Hazleton 1
Both squads failed to produce runs in the first two innings until Beaver drew first blood in the top of the third. After failing to produce scores with the bases loaded in the first inning, Beaver's Sarah Foose drove in the game's first runs on a clutch two-out single with runners on second and third, putting Hazleton behind 2-0. After retiring Hazleton in the third inning, Beaver loaded the bases in the top half of the fourth and once again struck with a two-out base hit, this time off the bat of Jenna Petrucci, increasing the lead to 3-0.
Hazleton started a rally in the bottom of the fourth inning with a single off the bat of sophomore Britani Esser (Willingboro, Nj,). With one away, freshman Kayla Wirth (Bethlehem, Pa.) drove a double to left centerfield advancing Esser to third base, but Beaver snuffed out the scoring threat on the very next play. A hard line drive off the bat of freshman Hailey Trasacco (Hamden, Ct.) down the third base line was snagged by the Beaver defender and carried her right to the bag, doubling up Esser at third and extinguishing the rally.
After a pair of zeros for both team ins the fifth, Beaver led off the top half of the sixth inning with three straight hits resulting in a score of the bat of Vanessa Jackson. Brenna Cepull followed up with a double down the left field line for a fifth Beaver score, chasing Hazleton freshman Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) from the circle. The Lady Lions sat the next two hitters down, but for the second time in the game, Beaver's Sarah Foose picked up a key two-out hit single, capping a three run inning for Beaver and giving them a 6-0 advantage over the Lady Lions.
Down to their final three outs, Kayla Wirth broke up the shut out with a towering home run to left field to lead off the seventh inning, but Hazleton was unable to mount the comeback, falling to Beaver by the score of 6-1.
Vanessa Jackson dominated the box score for Penn State Beaver. Jackson pitched to contact all day, successfully shutting down the high powered Hazleton offense, allowing just eight hits and no walks to Hazleton for the complete game victory. Jackson also picked up an RBI and a run scored, going 3-4 at the dish to lead the Beaver offense.
Sarah Foose's finished 2-4 in the ball game, both hits coming with two outs and runners in scoring position, resulting in three RBI for the first baseman. Dina Cable also went 2-4 with a pair of runs scored to round out Beaver's top hitters.
Hazleton collected eight hits supplied by four Lady Lions. Freshman Moriah Lynn finished 2-4 while teammates Britani Esser, sophomore Kaitlyn Kaluzny (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) and Kayla Wirth all went 2-3 in the game with Hazleton's lone score coming on the home run by Wirth.
Hazleton's PSUAC championship run comes to close with consecutive losses to Penn State Brandywine and Penn State Beaver. With the conference season at a close, Hazleton moves on to national competition in the form of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Softball Championships in Akron, Ohio. With the number six seed, Hazleton will face the New Hampshire Technical Institute on Monday, May 16 at 4:00 p.m. in Firestone Stadium.