HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Penn State Altoona softball ventured into non-conference play on Thursday afternoon, facing nearby out-of-conference opponent Juniata College for a doubleheader at West End Field.
Penn State Altoona (12-9-1) earned a 10-3 win in game one, and game two ended in a 6-6 tie when it was called after nine innings.
"The team had a good day and we worked out a lot of issues we had yesterday," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "Now we are in conference games the rest of the way, and we need to improve every game. I'm very proud of the team in game two, down 6-1 and not giving up and coming through to tie the game in the seventh."
In game one, Penn State Altoona was propelled by its offense, as the Lady Lions plated 10 runs while totaling 14 hits and five walks.
Abby Showers (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, one run batted in, and one walk. Olivia Miller (West Newton, PA/Yough) and Jessica Willits (Jersey Shore, PA/Jersey Shore) each went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Meghan Marasti (Harrison City, PA/Penn Trafford) batted 2-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI, and Emily Strouse (Beech Creek, PA/Central Mountain) was also 2-for-5 with an RBI. Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) scored three runs while walking twice and stealing two bases, and she was also hit by pitch three times to set a new Penn State Altoona softball program single game record for the most times a player has been hit by pitch in a game.
Faith Barnett (Todd, PA/Tussey Mountain) started in the circle and finished with a no decision, giving up three runs in 3 1/3 innings of work. Strouse entered in relief to grab the win, her team-leading sixth of the season, by pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing only two hits while striking out one.
Penn State Altoona scored runs in the top halves of the first and second innings to stake out an early lead. In the first, Willits' RBI single scored Giedroc for the Lady Lions' first run of the game. In the second, Showers' run-scoring base hit brought home Kelsey Bristol (Troy, PA/Troy) to make it 2-0.
Juniata (6-17-1) grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning on Kerigan Ammerman's three-run home run that put the Eagles ahead 3-2.
But Penn State Altoona scored eight unanswered runs the rest of the way. In the sixth, Marasti's RBI single tied the score, and she later came around to score on a wild pitch to give the Lady Lions the lead. Willits' bunt single drove in another run, and Strouse's RBI hit to shortstop made it 6-3. Cassidy Stover (Spring Mills, PA/Penns Valley) added an RBI single to shortstop to give the visitors a 7-3 lead by the end of the frame.
The Lady Lions tacked on three more runs in the seventh. Showers scored on a wild pitch before Miller's two-run double to center gave her team a 10-3 lead.
In game two, Penn State Altoona battled back from a 6-1 deficit to force extra innings and ultimately pull out a tie.
Sidney Shultz (Runville, PA/Bald Eagle) started in the circle and pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs. Strouse tossed 4 1/3 innings in relief, limiting Juniata to just two hits and one walk while giving up no runs.
Marasti went 2-for-4 for the Lady Lions with a double, two runs scored, and a walk. Miller batted 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and Willits was also 2-for-4. Giedroc hit her second home run of the season, a game-tying three-run shot in the top of the seventh inning.
Abby Ebright's three-run double gave Juniata the lead in the bottom of the first inning. After Penn State Altoona picked up a run in the top of the third when Kaitlyn Peck (Hanover, PA/South Western) scored on an error, the Eagles plated three more in the fifth on a wild pitch, a run-scoring sacrifice bunt, and an Ebright solo homer to extend their lead to 6-1.
Penn State Altoona scored two runs in the top of the sixth to narrow its deficit to three, using an RBI double to center from Miller and an RBI groundout from Strouse to cut the Eagles' lead to 6-3.
Giedroc came up with a big hit in the top of the seventh, hitting a three-run home run with two outs in the inning to knot the score 6-6. After a scoreless bottom of the seventh, the game advanced to extra innings.
Each team got base runners in extras, but Penn State Altoona and Juniata combined to strand six runners in the scoreless eighth and ninth innings. The game was called after the end of the ninth.
Lady Lions softball returns to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference play this Saturday, April 14, when the team will hit the road to play a doubleheader at Hilbert College starting at 1:00 p.m.