Walk-Off Highlights Lady Lions’ Split With Juniata

Photo (by Cory Maines): Junior third baseman Abby Showers takes a cut during Thursday's doubleheader at home against Juniata College.
Photo (by Cory Maines): Junior third baseman Abby Showers takes a cut during Thursday's doubleheader at home against Juniata College.

ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona softball split a doubleheader with non-conference opponent Juniata College on Thursday afternoon at Stewart Athletic Field, losing 11-1 in game one before posting a comeback, walk-off 4-3 victory in game two.

After a sluggish performance in game one, Penn State Altoona (13-15) bounced back with a come-from-behind win in a well-played game two.

"Nice game two walk-off win, leading into a big week of conference games next week," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli.

Game One: Juniata 11, Penn State Altoona 1 (Final/5 innings)

The Lady Lions struggled through a run-rule-shortened game to start the day's doubleheader, collecting only four hits and one run while committing seven errors as a team.

Abby Showers (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) had two of Penn State Altoona's four hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Meghan Marasti (Pittsburgh, PA/Penn-Trafford) was 1-for-2 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. Sarah Gearhart (McVeytown, PA/Mount Union) had her team's other hit, going 1-for-2.

Jayde Burge (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) got the start in the circle, allowing four earned runs in two innings to take the loss. Brittney Dellaquila (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts) pitched three innings in relief, allowing two earned runs.

Juniata (11-19) took an early lead by plating five runs over the first two innings.

In the top of the first, Abby Ebright's RBI double to left and Catherine Miller's two-run homer to left gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead. In the second, Alyssa Shedlock's RBI double down the right field line drove in a run, and Shedlock scored on a throwing error later in the inning to make it 5-0.

In the fourth, Juniata scored four more runs. An infield error allowed Natalie Krug and Amy Chen to score, and Maggie Peck's two-run double to left later in the inning made it 9-0.

Shedlock's two-run single down the right field line in the fifth gave Juniata an 11-0 advantage.

Penn State Altoona avoided a shutout in the bottom of the fifth, when Showers led off with a base hit to center, moved to third on Marasti's double, and scored one batter later when Olivia Miller (West Newton, PA/Yough) grounded out.

Game Two: Penn State Altoona 4, Juniata 3

The Lady Lions regrouped by playing an all-around strong game in the second half of the twinbill. Penn State Altoona was rewarded for its improvements when it battled back to overcome a deficit in the bottom of the seventh to win in walk-off fashion.

Sidney Lewis (Smithmill, PA/Moshannon Valley) pitched a complete game, getting the win to improve her season record to 6-3. In seven innings, she allowed three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four batters. Lewis was also effective with the bat, going 2-for-2 with a run scored, a walk, and a stolen base.

Showers was 1-for-3 with the game-tying RBI double in the seventh, and Marasti was 1-for-3 with the game-winning RBI double. Burge also went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Penn State Altoona scored the game's first runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. With Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) at third base, Jessica Willits (Jersey Shore, PA/Jersey Shore) put down a sacrifice bunt that allowed Giedroc to score. One batter later, Burge delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0.

But Juniata answered in the next half inning, when Miller hit her second home run of the day, a three-run shot to center that put the Eagles up 3-2.

Penn State Altoona stirred up a rally in the bottom of the seventh, however. Gearhart reached base to lead off the inning when she was hit by a pitch, and she moved to second on a wild pitch, then took third on Ellie Leyo's (Irvona, PA/Glendale) sac bunt. Showers followed with an RBI double to center, tying the score at three runs apiece. Marasti, the next batter, came up with the winning hit, doubling to left to drive in Showers and help Penn State Altoona to the game two win.

Penn State Altoona softball will get back to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference play next Tuesday, April 23, when the Lady Lions will host Hilbert College for a doubleheader at Stewart Athletic Field. Game one first pitch is set for 2:00 p.m.

That doubleheader will be the team's Senior Day, and a special ceremony will be held between games one and two.