FORT MYERS, Fla. – Penn State Altoona softball got its first sweep of the week in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic on Thursday, when the Lady Lions defeated Rivier University 6-4 and Albion College 9-4 at CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Penn State Altoona (6-4) was able to combine effective pitching with strong hitting in Thursday's wins.
"I thought we put it all together today in our two wins. We finally hit well with runners on base and our pitching was excellent. To my surprise, we made a few more errors in the field that I expect from this team, but we will clean this up," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "Sidney Shultz and Emily Strouse did a nice job in the circle. Hopefully, we are now hitting our stride and we can go on a streak of wins."
In game one, Sidney Shultz (Runville, PA/Bald Eagle) improved her season record to 3-1 with a complete game victory in the circle against Rivier (0-7). Shultz pitched seven innings, allowing six hits, two earned runs, and two walks while striking out a pair. The right-hander took a no-hitter into the bottom of the fifth inning before it was ended by a one out single.
Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) had a big performance at the plate and on the base paths, as she batted 4-for-4 with a double, two runs batted in, and two runs scored while stealing three bases.
Meghan Marasti (Harrison City, PA/Penn-Trafford) put Penn State Altoona up 1-0 in the top of the first inning with her two-out RBI single through the right side.
Penn State Altoona again found offense with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Abby Showers' (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) RBI single up the middle made it 2-0, and Kelsey Bristol (Troy, PA/Troy) scored during the play on an outfield throwing error by Rivier. Giedroc's two-run double down the left field line put her team up 5-0.
Emily Strouse (Beech Creek, PA/Central Mountain) increased Penn State Altoona's lead to 6-0 in the top of the sixth with her RBI base hit up the middle.
Rivier's Morgan Pratt broke up Shultz's no-hit bid in the bottom half of the fifth inning, hitting an RBI single down the left field line to put the Raiders on the board.
Rivier added two runs in the sixth on a two-run single by Evelyn Susko, and the Raiders got one in the seventh on Mikayla Ramsdell's RBI single. But Penn State Altoona closed out the game without allowing any more runs across for its opponent.
In game two against Albion (5-5), Strouse got the start in the circle and recorded her first collegiate win. The righty pitched a complete game, going seven innings and allowing three earned runs to boost her season record to 1-1.
Olivia Miller (West Newton, PA/Yough) led the way for the Lady Lions' hitters, going 3-for-4 with a triple, three RBI, and a run scored. Jenna Myers (Garnet Valley, PA/Garnet Valley) was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Ellie Leyo (Irvona, PA/Glendale) finished with two RBI, and Showers had two stolen bases.
Grace Connolly's RBI double down the left field line gave Albion a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Penn State Altoona used Miller's two-out, two-run triple to right to jump ahead 2-1.
In the fourth, Myers led off with a base hit, stole second base, moved up to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch to extend the Lady Lions' lead to 3-1.
But Albion tied the score 3-3 in the top of the fifth. Rebecca Rodriguez hit into a fielder's choice, driving in Kelsie Vogleman. During the play, a throwing error allowed Camille Roloff to score for the Britons, knotting the score at three runs apiece.
Penn State Altoona's two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth was the key inning of the game, as the Lady Lions established a 9-3 lead by the end of the frame after coming up big several times with two outs. Leyo's two-run single up the middle put her team back on top. Bristol scored on a wild pitch, and Showers followed with an RBI single to center. Showers scored on a Rivier error, and Miller added an RBI single up the middle to give Penn State Altoona a six-run lead.
Albion got one run across in the top of the seventh, but the Lady Lions shut down any comeback hopes by the Britons.
Penn State Altoona softball play two more games in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic tomorrow, Friday, March 9 to close out its Florida trip. The Lady Lions play Kenyon College at 9:00 a.m. before ending the day against Edgewood College at 11:00 a.m. Both games will be played at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.