NAPLES, Fla. – Penn State Altoona softball picked up its first sweep of the week in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, defeating Clark University 8-2 and Elms College 6-5 at North Collier Regional Park on Tuesday.
The Lady Lions (4-4) played their best softball of the young season, executing with better consistency in all facets to record two wins.
"It really looks like we have turned the corner and are now playing like we expected from the start. The team was focused on softball today from beginning to end," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "Our pitchers did an outstanding job and are getting used to the college game. On offense, we are clicking on all cylinders right now."
Game One: Penn State Altoona 8, Clark 2
Penn State Altoona picked up where it left off on Monday, posting a strong all-around victory over Clark (4-3).
Jessica Willits (Jersey Shore, PA/Jersey Shore) went 2-for-3, and Abby Showers (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) batted 2-for-4 with a double, a run batted in, a walk, and two runs scored. Olivia Miller (West Newton, PA/Yough) also hit 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Meghan Marasti (Pittsburgh, PA/Penn-Trafford) was 2-for-5 with two RBI.
Sidney Lewis (Smithmill, PA/Moshannon Valley) picked up her first collegiate win in a complete game effort. She allowed one earned run on nine hits and four walks while striking out eight batters.
Miller's RBI single to center put Penn State Altoona on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning. Clark tied things up in the bottom half of the inning when Kelsey Joyce scored on an infield error.
But the Lady Lions grabbed the lead back in the top of the third, when Marasti's RBI single and Haley Giedroc's (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) sacrifice fly to left made it 3-1. Penn State Altoona increased its advantage to 5-1 in the fourth on Giedroc's RBI single to left and Lewis' fielder's choice grounder that brought Showers home.
Kaylee Gibson's RBI base hit to left plated a run for Clark in the fifth, but Penn State Altoona padded its lead with a three-run top of the seventh. After Miller led off with a double, Abby Allenbaugh (Patton, PA/Cambria Heights) drove her in with a base hit to center. Later in the inning, Showers' RBI single to left got another run home, and Cassidy Stover (Spring Mills, PA/Penns Valley) scored on an error to make it 8-2.
Game Two: Penn State Altoona 6, Elms 5
Penn State Altoona pounded out 12 more hits and displayed solid pitching in its tight win over Elms (0-6).
Marasti was 2-for-3 with a double, RBI, and run scored, and Kaitlyn Harmon (Sunbury, PA/Shikellamy) was also 2-for-3 with a run scored. Giedroc went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and Lewis hit 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and a run scored.
Jayde Burge (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) got the start in the circle and recorded her first collegiate victory, pitching five innings and allowing four earned runs on seven hits and four walks while registering two strikeouts. Lewis entered in relief to pick up her first career save, tossing two scoreless, hitless innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
Penn State Altoona jumped on Elms early, going up 4-0 in the top of the first inning. Lewis' two-run double put her team on the board, and Burge drove in a pair with her base hit.
Elms got a run across in the bottom of the third inning on Tyla Risucci's RBI single, but the Lady Lions added two more runs to their total in the next half inning, getting a Marasti sac fly and Giedroc RBI double to make it 6-1.
Elms closed the gap with a four-run bottom of the fifth. Risucci's two RBI single brought two runs in before Raeanna Tumel's run-scoring groundout and Ryanne Fournier's sac fly cut Penn State Altoona's lead to 6-5.
But the Lady Lions yielded no further damage, hanging on for the close win.
Penn State Altoona softball is off tomorrow, and the Lady Lions will return to action on Thursday, March 7 for two more games in the Cusic Classic. The team will travel to the CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla. to play Kenyon College at 9:00 a.m. and Drew University at 11:00 a.m.
"After our day off tomorrow, we will need to pick up right where we left off and come home with a successful spring trip," said Merilli. "I am very proud of the team for picking it up and buying in to what we are trying to do."