PSUAC softball showdown ends in split decision

PSUAC softball showdown ends in split decision

Drifton, Pa. - Several streaks were on the line Thursday afternoon when the no. 3 ranked Lady Lions faced off with the Penn State University Athletic Conference's defending champions Penn State Brandywine. Hazleton entered Thursday's double-header on an 11 game win streak and had not beaten Brandywine in four tries dating back to late 2014. Conversely, Penn State Brandywine had won their last 24 contests in the PSUAC, looking to maintain their position at the top of the class in conference play. When the day was finished, all streaks came to an end as Hazleton won a tight battle in game one, then stumbled in game two as the Brandywine offense came to life. 

Game 1: Penn State Hazleton 4, Penn State Brandywine 2

Penn State Brandywine opened the game with three straight two-out hits and two early runs in an effort to spoil sophomore Kayla Rhome's (Marysville, Pa.) afternoon, but the feisty right hander bared down and found the zone after trouble in the first frame. Rhome went on to fire six scoreless innings after the first, leaving it to her teammates to provide support with the bats. In the third inning, that's exactly what she got, as the Lions tied the score on four hits and a wild pitch, including a double from freshman Moriah Lynn (Berwick, Pa.) and a game tying RBI from sophomore Vanessa Michael (Bloomsburg, Pa.). Michael would break the tie, the very next frame with her second RBI single, and a bases loaded walk to freshman Teddi White (Parsippany-Troy Hills, Nj.) put the Lions up two over the defending champs. Brandywine threatened with three hits in the sixth inning, but Rhome worked her way out of a bases loaded, no outs jam, striking out two and inducing a fly ball to escape the trouble. Rhome shut the door in the final inning to pick up her eighth win of the season, extending Hazleton's win streak to twelve, ending their drought against the defending champs as well as Brandywine's 24 game win streak in the PSUAC.

Top 1st

Three consecutive two-out hits from Brandywine plates puts Brandywine on top 2-0 including an RBI double from Maddie Malfara and an RBI single from Steph Harvey.

Bottom 3rd

Sophomore Kaitlyn Kaluzny (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) singled to lead off the inning and made her may to third on a double by Moriah Lynn. With one out in the inning, Kaluzny got Hazleton on the board, coming home on a wild pitch and Lynn followed on an RBI single from Vanessa Michael to tie the game at 2-2 through three innings of play.

Bottom 4th

Freshman Hailey Trasacco (Hamden, Ct.) singled to lead off the inning, moving up to second on a single from sophomore Kaitlyn Kaluzny. Moriah Lynn launched a long fly ball to right field, but was robbed by Maddie Malfara reaching over the wall to stop the home run. With two outs and the bases loaded, Vanessa Michael found a hole in the Brandywine infield, placing a single to score Trasacco. Under duress, Brandywine surrenders a free pass to Teddi White, scoring Kaluzny and putting the Lions up by the eventual final score of 4-2.

Top Performers

Rhome allowed two scores in the first but finished nicely, putting up blanks from the second inning on. The sophomore finished the game allowing two runs on nine hits and three walks with six strikeouts in the complete game victory.

Moriah Lynn scored a run on a 3-4 day at the dish to lead Hazleton's hitters. Michael ended the game 2-4 with two RBI while Kaluzny and Trasacco both finished 2-3 with three runs scored between the pair.

Maddie Malfara and Steph Harvey led the offense for Brandywine, both going 2-4 at the dish with an RBI each. Malfara added a run scored on the Harvey single in the first inning.

Olivia Encarnacion pitched six innings for Brandywine, allowing four runs on 12 hits and a walk. 

Game 2: Penn State Brandywine 11, Penn State Hazleton 2 (Final, 5 Innings)

Eager to rebound from their first PSUAC loss in over a year, Penn State Brandywine went on the attack after falling behind to Hazleton in the first inning. 12 of Brandywine's 13 game-two hits came in just three innings off Hazleton pitching to put three crooked innings on the board and pull away from the Lady Lions. Katie DeStefano silenced the Hazleton offense from the circle, limiting the Lions to just eight base runners, refusing the Hazleton series sweep and ending the Lady Lions 12 game win streak.

Bottom 1st

Moriah Lynn continued to hold the hot bat for Hazleton, leading off the inning with a single and coming around to score on a double by freshman Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.), giving Hazleton the early 1-0 advantage.

Top 2nd

After shutting down Brandywine in the first, sophomore Sara Stauffer ran into trouble against the Brandywine hitters in the second frame. A lead off walk led to three straight hits and two runs on an RBI double to Julie Foeldes and an single by Katie Steffen. A hit batsman loaded the bases and with no outs, Brandywine pushed two more runs across the plate on ground ball outs to take the lead by a score of 4-1.

Top 4th

With two outs and a runner in scoring position, Arianna Segich lined a single right field scoring Katie Steffen from second base. Robyn Gannon followed two batters later with an RBI single to score Segich, extending the Brandwyine advantage to 6-1.

Top 5th

After two quick outs to start the inning, Brandywine notched three straight hits to plate two additional runs and chase Stauffer from the game. With a runner on first, Arianna Segich drilled a home run over the center field fence off the Hazleton reliever to put the game out of reach. After a second Lady Lion miscue in the field, Robyn Gannon added a final insurance run with an RBI single to center, extending the lead to 11-1.

Bottom 5th

A pair of walks and a Brandywine error in the infield offered a glimpse of hope for the home squad. Vanessa Michael added a run on a ground ball out, but Brandywine's DeStefano induced three straight outs with runners aboard, ending the game at 11-2.

Top Performers

Hazleton hitters managed just three hits in game two, with Moriah Lynn, Sara Stauffer and Sam Varela all finishing 1-2 at the plate. Varela picked up an RBI, scoring Lynn in the first inning. 

Four Brandywine hitters collected multi-hit games in the nightcap. Arianna Segich finished 2-4 with two runs scored and four RBI including the two run homer in the 5th inning. Robyn Gannon ended the game 3-4 with two RBI and Katie Steffen went a perfect 3-3 with an RBI and three runs scored. Julie Foeldes rounded out the Brandywine offense with a 2-3 performance and two runs scored.

Katie DeStefano earned her third win of the season, tossing five innings of two run ball (no earned runs). DeStefano allowed three hits and two walks while striking two batters in the winning effort.

Next up

The split decision means both squads will look to run the table to earn the top spot in the PSUAC postseason tournament. Hazleton hits the road on Saturday for their western PA swing, taking on Penn State New Kensington for a Saturday double-header, then off to Penn State Fayette on Sunday to end the road trip.