Drums, Pa. - Saturday's home double-header with Penn State Scranton marked the Lady Lions first venture into Penn State University Athletic Conference play and a successful one at that. Hazleton made a statement right from the fiirst pitch and cruised to a pair of wins shortened by the mercy rule. The Lady Lions earned 24 base runners in the first two innings of game one to secure a 19-2 victory in the 1:00 p.m. game and used a patient approach in game two to stack up 16 walks that led to a 15-0 win in the second outing.
Game 1: Penn State Hazleton 19, Penn State Scranton 2 - Final/3 Innings
Scranton threatened in their first at bat, working a pair of walks off of senior Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) but with two outs and runners at the corners, the Hazleton hurler struck out the final batter to escape the inning unblemished. With a zero on the board for Scranton, Hazleton came to the dish and immediately took control of the game.
Freshman Sky Esterly (Nazareth, Pa.) set the pace with a lead off double, the first of 12 hits in the inning for Hazleton. Even the Lady Lions first two outs in the frame were productive sacrifice fly's that plated runs. In total, Hazleton sent 20 batters to the plate during the onslaught. Four Lady Lions racked multiple hits during the route including freshman Madison Clark (Emmaus, Pa.) and Caitlyn Ashelman (Macungie, Pa.) along with sophomore Lexi Kessler (Bangor, Pa.) and Sam Varela. Ashelman totaled four RBI in the frame on a pair of doubles while Varela issued three scores herself that included a two run home run through the teeth of the wind, her seventh blast of the season.
With a huge 14-0 lead, Varela made quick work of Scranton in their next at bat and the Lady Lions were back to their usual tricks as they went back on offense. Though nowhere near the production of their first at bat, Hazleton added five runs on five hits in the bottom of the second frame to put the 15 run rule into effect. A bases loaded double by freshman Cassandra Passamonte (Bushkill, Pa.) sent in the inning's first two scores and following RBI base knocks by Ashelman and sophomore Nicolette Kessler (Bangor, Pa.), freshman Cassidy Lentz (Lehigh Valley, Pa.) capped the Hazleton scoring with a single to right field that put Hazleton up 19-0. Scranton put a rally together in their third at bat but nowhere near enough to dent the Lion's advantage. Coming into the game in relief of Varela, sophomore Mckenzie Malys (Wilkes-Barre,Pa.) shut the door to give Hazleton the 19-2 victory after 2.5 innings.
Game 2: Penn State Hazleton 15, Penn State Scranton 0 - Final/4 Innings
Hazleton earned just seven hits in the second outing of the day although equally impressive on the scoreboard. The Lady Lions patient approach at the plate work 16 free passes in game two while the Lion pitching mowed through the Scranton hitters for four shut-out innings.
Madison Clark mowed down five of six Scranton hitters via the strikeout, facing the minimum over her two innings pitch. Following Clark's exit, Hazleton led 2-0 and broke the game open with a seven run effort in the bottom of the second inning. Hazleton needed just four hits in the frame to surge ahead and it was Clark inflicting the damage in her second at bat of the game. Following an RBI walk by Varela, Clark came to the dish with the bases loaded, unleashing a double to left centerfield to drive in a pair of scores. Freshman Jaclyn Hess (Bangor, Pa.) added a double of her own to tally two more scores and three batters later, Mckenzie Malys served up the Lions' final hit of the inning, a single to right field that scored Hess and gave Hazleton an 8-0 cushion.
Hazleton added an unearned tally before taking the field with Cassidy Lentz resuming pitching duties for Hazleton. Lentz was no less impressive in her two innings of action. The freshman struck out the side in the top of the third inning and two more strikeouts in the fourth. With the Lions on top 10-0 after 3.5 innings, Hazleton loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth frame. Already with a monster day, Varela made her way to the plate and smacked her fifth hit of the day, a two RBI single to increase her run driven in total to five on the afternoon. The next four Lady Lions reached safely via the free pass to tack on three more runs, ending the game in four innings at 15-0 in favor of Hazleton.
Next up: The Lions are back in action on Monday, April 1 with a road to trip Penn College in Williamsport, Pa. First pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Elm Park against the non-conference foe.