NAPLES, Fla. – Penn State Altoona softball kicked off its Florida trip on Sunday with its first games of the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic at North Collier Regional Park. The Lady Lions defeated Elms College 11-1 in the first game of the day, before suffering a 15-8 loss to Albion College in game two.
"We are still finding our way, and I thought we lost a little focus in the second game," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "We need to figure out the mental game to be a really good team."
Game One: Penn State Altoona 11, Elms 1
Penn State Altoona used a well-rounded performance to defeat Elms in a run-rule shortened, five-inning win. The Lady Lions pounded out 11 runs on 11 hits while limiting Elms to just one run on three hits.
Brittney Dellaquila (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts) went 2-for-4 with a double, three runs scored, and a stolen base. Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs batted in, Jayde Burge (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a steal, and Sarah Gearhart (McVeytown, PA/Mount Union) was 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. Meghan Marasti (Pittsburgh, PA/Penn-Trafford) also had two RBI and two runs scored.
Gearhart got the start in the circle and picked up her first collegiate win, pitching all five innings and allowing only one run on three hits and two walks while striking out two batters.
The Lady Lions went up 5-0 in the top of the second inning. Gearhart helped her own cause with a two-run double, and Marasti drove in a run with her base hit. Sidney Lewis (Smithmill, PA/Moshannon Valley) hit a sacrifice fly to bring in another run, and Marasti scored on a passed ball to give her team a five-run lead.
Penn State Altoona doubled its lead in the third inning. With the bases loaded, Abby Showers (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) was hit by a pitch and Marasti drew a walk. After those two runs scored, Giedroc's double brought in two more runs, and Lewis' RBI groundout to shortstop made it 10-0.
Elms got its lone run in the bottom of the third, but an error in the top of the fourth plated Penn State Altoona's 11th score of the game.
Game Two: Albion 15, Penn State Altoona 8
The Lady Lions struggled defensively in game two, committing six errors and allowing 15 runs.
Dellaquila was 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored. Jessica Willits (Jersey Shore, PA/Jersey Shore) went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Giedroc hit her first home run of the season.
Down 3-0 in the bottom of the first, Penn State Altoona tied the game on Dellaquila's sacrifice, a wild pitch that allowed Marasti to score, and Olivia Miller's (West Newton, PA/Yough) RBI groundout to third.
Albion counted with a seven-run top of the third inning that gave the Britons a 10-3 lead. Penn State Altoona got four runs back in the bottom of the third, helped by Willits' RBI single and an Albion error. Giedroc added a run for Penn State Altoona in the fourth on her solo homer, but it was not enough, as the Lady Lions ultimately fell by seven runs.
Penn State Altoona goes into its second day at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic tomorrow, Monday, March 4, when the Lady Lions will face Kenyon College at 9:00 a.m. and Drew University at 1:00 p.m.