State College, PA - The Lady Lions took to beautiful Beard Field on Friday with hopes of two game sweep and a Penn State University Athletic Conference Championship. Unfortunately for the Hazleton squad those hopes did not become reality as Penn State Brandywine completed its undefeated run in conference play, defeating the Lady Lions in the championship game by a score of 11-8. Hazleton jumped out to a significant lead in the first frame, but the hard hitting Brandywine offense responded to the tune of 11 runs in the first three innings. The Lady Lions chipped away at the lead, but failed to repeat their early inning success, as Brandywine earned their first PSUAC title in program history.
Championship Round: Penn State Brandywine 11, Penn State Hazleton 8
Top 1: With two on and one out, Erin Dougherty and Brianna Grunza delivered RBI doubles in consecutive at bats, to put the first two runs on the board. Kayla Rhome singled to score a third run, and Brandi Grunza smacked a two RBI single to put Hazleton up 5-0 before taking the field.
Bottom 1: Hazleton secured two outs and had the opportunity to escape trouble when an infield error scored a run and extended Brandywine's first inning opportunities. The home team took full advantage of the miscue scoring four unearned runs off of Hazleton's Kayla Rhome, including a two RBI double by Danielle Spina, all but wiping out Hazleton's lead to the tune of 5-4.
Bottom 2: After cooling off the Hazleton bats in the top half, Brandywine's bats remained hot as RBI doubles from Robyn Gannon, Katy Steffen and Cheyenne Murphy plate five more runs to claim a 9-5 Brandywine lead.
Bottom 3: In relief for Rhome, Kayla Karchner allows four singles to Brandywine hitters before finding comfort in the circle. Katy Steffen delivers a two RBI single to increase the lead to 11-5.
Top 4: Karchner leads off the inning with a single and comes in to score on an Andrea Quillman double, cutting the lead to five runs.
Top 5: Hazleton leads off the inning with three singles from Brianna Grunza, Rhome and Britani Esser cut the lead to 11-7, but Brandywine escapes the big inning throwing a runner out at third and getting two of the next three batters to comply with outs in the infield.
Top 6: Once again the Lady Lions threaten the comeback as Kaitlyn Kaluzny and Quillman smash back to back doubles to plate a Hazleton run. Brandywine limits the damage for a third straight inning, securing outs from the next three Hazleton hitters to maintain an 11-8 advantage.
Top 7: The Lady Lions hold Brandywine scoreless from the fourth inning on, but in their final at bats are unable to mount a comeback. Hazleton gets one hit in the final frame, but Brandywine holds on to win the PSUAC title 11-8.
Behind the Box Score:
- Brandywine finds success against Rhome, scoring 17 runs in the last four innings against Hazleton's top pitcher going back to the semi-final round.
- Julia Allman and Robyn Gannon combine for six hits and five runs scored in the finale.
- Katy Steffen cashes in four RBI on two hits.
- Lady Lions outhit Brandywine 15-13 but strand eight runners on base.
Next Up: Despite the disappointing in the dugout, the Lady Lions hard work in 2015 does not go unnoticed. Later in the day, Hazleton softball received an at large bid to play in the Small College World Series hosted by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. The Lady Lions will travel to Akron, Ohio as the number five seed and will face off against Briarcliffe College in the national tournament. The tournament begins on Monday, May 11 at Firestone Stadium, with the Lady Lions taking the field at 4 PM.