Akron, Pa. – The Lady Lions squared off with Carlow University in the third round of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Softball Championships on Tuesday afternoon attempting to stay unbeaten and remain in the Championship bracket. The Lady Lions carried a 2-0 lead through six innings of play but a seventh inning rally by the second seeded Celtics served up three runs and loss for the Lady Lions by the final score of 3-2.
USCAA Softball National Championships - Carlow University 3, Penn State Hazleton 2
Hazleton led off the game with a pair of walks and with one out in the inning, freshman Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) laced a double to right centerfield, scoring sophomores Vanessa Michael (Bloomsburg, Pa.) and Sara Stauffer (Mifflinburg, Pa.), putting Hazleton up 2-0.
Sophomore Kayla Rhome (Marysville, Pa.) and the Lady Lions defense went to work and blanked the Carlow team for six innings aided by outstanding defense and several highlight reel plays from Stauffer, Varela and freshman third baseman Moriah Lynn (Berwick, Pa.)., but the tides would turn in Carlow's final at bat.
Madison Miller led off the final frame with a ground ball single up the middle. After a fly out, a walk to Marla Small put the tying run on first base and a seeing-eye single off the bat of Kelsey Geyer plates the Celtics first run of the game. A fielding error on the same play allowed Small to move up to third and leave runners at the corners still with only one out in the inning. After a stolen base by Geyer, Kenzie Young ties the game with an infield single scoring Small and advancing Geyer to the third station, just 60 feet from scoring the winning run. Now trying to escape the inning and send the game to extra frames, Kayla Rhome induced a ground ball to the Lion's infield but an errant throw to first brought winning run in for the Celtics, walking off Hazleton for the 3-2 victory.
Kenzie Young led all hitters in the game going 3-4 with the game tying RBI. Kelsey Geyer went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored while teammate Madison Miller finished the game 2-3.
Danielle Levato entered the circle for Carlow after the starting pitcher allowed two runs to Hazleton and went on to earn the win. Levato shut down Hazleton allowing two hits and no runs, striking out two batters in six and two thirds innings of relief work.
Kayla Rhome pitched a gem for the second straight day, shutting our Carlow through six innings, but earned the loss in the final inning. Rhome tossed six and a third innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on eight hits while striking out four Celtics.
The Lady Lions garnered just three hits in the loss despite holding the lead for six innings. Sam Varela inflicted two runs of damage with the two RBI double in the first inning, finishing the game 1-3 at the plate. Sophomore Britani Esser (Willingboro, Nj.) went 1-3 as did Kayla Rhome to round out the top Hazleton hitters.
The loss sends Hazleton to the loser's bracket but hope still remains to chase down the USCAA championship trophy. Hazleton will look to get back on track and stay in contention when they take on a familiar foe in Penn State Brandywine at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday night in Firestone Stadium.