DuBois, Pa. - Who would break through first? That was the story on Saturday during the opening round of the Penn State University Athletic Conference softball playoffs with the Hazleton Nittany Lions and Penn State DuBois vying for a spot in quarterfinals next weekend. Both squads pitch and played great defense but Hazleton missed out on some early opportunities paving the way for a five inning stalemate untie DuBois broke through in the sixth inning with a big inning that put Hazleton away by the score of 5-0.
Hazleton freshman Rebecca Baum (Stewartstown, Pa.) led off the game with a single to left field and swiped second base before a walk to freshman Jess Lepore (Telford, Pa.) put Hazleton in a nice position to post a number early in the game. Both runners would advance following a ground ball out and Hazleton nearly stole a run on a wild pitch but a quick rebound off the wall kept Baum from gambling with just one out in the frame. Unfortunately for the Lions, both runners would be stranded as DuBois' Lizzy Scott struck out the next batter and shut down the early rally with a pop fly to end the inning.
Defensively, Hazleton was on point and junior hurler Cassidy Lentz (Germansville, Pa.) cruised through the game with minimal trouble. DuBois would get just one runner to third base through five innings against the junior but trouble struck in the bottom of the sixth inning when DuBois led off the frame with a triple to right center field. Lentz induced a ground ball in the hole to the next hitter but Hazleton could not cut down the go ahead run on a close play at the plate. With DuBois now in the lead and the pressure seemingly relieved, the home team's bats came alive, tagging the ball for four extra base hits in the inning. Five runs would cross the plate forcing Lentz from the game after a nearly flawless day prior to the big inning. Now with a healthy lead, Scott would retire the side in order, ending Hazleton's hopes to continue through the playoff bracket.
Top Performers: Hazleton was led by Baum and freshman Linsey Fisk (Millville, Pa.) who collected two hits each, combining for all four of Hazleton's hits against Scott. After dominating early, Lentz would be saddled with the loss, throwing five and two thirds innings with five runs allowed on 8 hits. Lentz struck out two batters on the day while issuing just one free pass.
For DuBois, Lizzy Scott picked up the win, throwing a complete game shut out. The pitcher allowed just four hits while walking two batters and fanning four Hazleton hitters in the victory. Scott added a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with an RBI and a run scored in the momentum shifting sixth inning. Skylar Ceprish ended the day with a 2-for-4 effort adding a late RBI while Maliah Schreck went 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored.