Softball Splits First Day at Gene Cusic Classic

Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore Sidney Shultz pitches during her team's win over Elms College on Sunday at North Collier Regional Park.
Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore Sidney Shultz pitches during her team's win over Elms College on Sunday at North Collier Regional Park.

NAPLES, Fla. – In its first day competing in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic on Sunday, the Penn State Altoona softball team recorded one win and one loss, defeating Elms College 6-2 before falling 7-0 to Drew University at North Collier Regional Park.

"In our first game, after a rough first inning, we played a really good game. Sidney Shultz showed that she will be a force in the circle with her first collegiate win, giving up three hits and no earned runs in seven innings," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "In the second game, we came out flat and stayed flat the whole game. Overall, I think we know we will hit better – now we need to do it."

In game one, the Lady Lions were led by strong pitching from Sidney Shultz (Runville, PA/Bald Eagle), who recorded the first win of her collegiate career. The right-hander tossed a complete game, pitching seven innings and yielding five hits and four walks while giving up no earned runs and striking out five batters.

Olivia Miller (West Newton, PA/Yough) led the Lady Lions at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one run batted in. Kelsey Bristol (Troy, PA/Troy) and Ellie Leyo (Irvona, PA/Glendale) each finished with two RBI.

Elms (0-4) grabbed a 2-0 in the top of the first inning on run-scoring singles from Elizabeth Olszewski and Kayla Doherty.

But Shultz settled in and allowed no further damage by the Blazers throughout the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, the Lady Lions' bats went to work in the bottom of the fourth inning to propel Penn State Altoona into the lead.

In the fourth, Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) reached on an error, stole second base, and scored on a double down the left field line by Meghan Marasti (Harrison City, PA/Penn-Trafford). Miller's single to second base drove in Marasti, and after Jessica Willits (Jersey Shore, PA/Jersey Shore) reached base on another Elms error, Leyo's single brought Marasti and Willits home to give Penn State Altoona a 4-2 advantage.

Penn State Altoona added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Kaitlyn Harmon (Sunbury, PA/Shikellamy) led off the inning with a walk, Miller followed with a base hit, and Shiona Lonesky (Sasebo, Japan/E.J. King) drew another walk to load the bases. Bristol capitalized with a two-run single to center, extending the Lady Lions' lead to 6-2.

After its well-rounded performance against Elms, Penn State Altoona struggled in its second game of the day, a two-hit shutout at the hands of Drew (2-0).

Giedroc and Cassidy Stover (Spring Mills, PA/Penns Valley) accounted for Penn State Altoona's hits.

Faith Barnett (Todd, PA/Tussey Mountain) started at pitcher and took her first loss of the season, pitching 2 2/3 innings. Emily Strouse (Beech Creek, PA/Central Mountain) pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief, allowing four hits, one run, and no walks.

Jasmine Vera's RBI triple to right in the bottom of the second inning put the Rangers in front, and Brooke Adams' two-run single to center later in the frame made it 3-0.

Drew doubled its lead in the third inning, using an RBI single to right from Vanessa Villahermosa and a two-run triple to left by Vera to make it 6-0. Heather Ronchi's RBI double to left in the fourth capped the scoring, upping the Rangers' advantage to 7-0.

Penn State Altoona softball is back in action tomorrow, Monday, March 5, with another set of games in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic. At 1:00 p.m., the Lady Lions take on Geneva College before facing off against Anna Maria College at 5:00 p.m. Both games will be played at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla.