Penn State tops Pitt Softball 8-3

Senior+infielder+Alexis+Solak+scored+Pitt%E2%80%99s+first+run+against+Penn+State+on+Wednesday%2C+which+Pitt+lost+8-3.+Yesterday%E2%80%99s+loss+marks+five+straight+for+Pitt.
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Penn State tops Pitt Softball 8-3

Senior infielder Alexis Solak scored Pitt’s first run against Penn State on Wednesday, which Pitt lost 8-3. Yesterday’s loss marks five straight for Pitt.

Senior infielder Alexis Solak scored Pitt’s first run against Penn State on Wednesday, which Pitt lost 8-3. Yesterday’s loss marks five straight for Pitt.

Kaycee Orwig | Staff Photographer

Senior infielder Alexis Solak scored Pitt’s first run against Penn State on Wednesday, which Pitt lost 8-3. Yesterday’s loss marks five straight for Pitt.

Kaycee Orwig | Staff Photographer

Kaycee Orwig | Staff Photographer

Senior infielder Alexis Solak scored Pitt’s first run against Penn State on Wednesday, which Pitt lost 8-3. Yesterday’s loss marks five straight for Pitt.

By Tessa Sayers, Assistant Sports Editor

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Pitt softball will have to wait another day to try and earn its first home win. The Panthers (4-26, 1-8 ACC) lost 8-3 to in-state rival Penn State (17-14) on Wednesday at Vartabedian Field. The loss marks five straight for Pitt.

The Nittany Lions were led by first-year pitcher Bailey Parshall. Parshall threw 108 pitches, notched eight strikeouts with no walks and gave up seven hits in the win.

“The pitcher for Penn State threw a crafty game against us and hit the zone well,” head coach Jodi Hermanek said. “I thought Brittany Knight did a great job today, that four-run inning was just a little bit of the tailspin of the ball going their way a little bit more … But I still thought she threw a great game and coming back after that first inning and really getting settled.”

Knight, a redshirt sophomore who threw a complete game shutout when Pitt beat Penn State 2-0 earlier the season, was once again on the mound for the Panthers. Knight finished the day with 101 pitches, eight hits, four walks and three strikeouts before being replaced in the sixth inning. She fell to 2-13 on the season with the loss.

Penn State took an early lead in the first inning when first-year infielder Chelsea Bisi launched a two-run home run to center field. But through the next three innings, both teams were held scoreless. It was Pitt who finally ended the scoreless drought.

With one out in the bottom of the fourth, sophomore utility player Hunter Levesque ripped a line drive down the left-field line for a stand-up double. It was Levesque’s second time reaching base after making it to first on a bunt in the first inning.

Levesque advanced to third when senior infielder Alexis Solak struck out swinging and then scored Pitt’s first run of the game when senior infielder Gabrielle Fredericks singled to center field. Parshall got the next batter to pop out to first base to end Pitt’s comeback.

“I think Parshall is a fantastic pitcher,” Pitt senior infielder Olivia Gray said. “As a freshman, she throws a pretty good riseball, so in-game adjustments would pretty much be just moving up in the box and trying to stay on top of the ball and just talking to each other, just making sure we are all on the same page with our game plan.”

Penn State went into the top of the fifth inning with an answer. First-year outfielder Melina Livingston started the inning with a left-field single and reached home on a senior outfielder Toni Polk blast to right field to put the Nittany Lions up three and make the score 4-1.

First-year infielder Claire Swedberg kept things going for the Nittany Lions with a double to right center. Knight forced the next three batters to groundout, fly out and strikeout, respectively, getting out of the inning without any more damage.

“I think we’ve been trying to figure out and make adjustments per game,” Levesque said. “Mentally, physically, communication, everything … I think we’ve just been working together as a team and a unit.”

Pitt’s biggest chance to tie the game came in the fifth inning. Junior catcher Walker Barbee started the inning at first after Penn State’s shortstop bobbled a ground ball. Senior outfielder Taylor Myers then singled to right to put runners on first and second for Gray.

Gray loaded the bases when a miscommunication from Penn State allowed a pop-up to right field to drop. Two runners scored and Pitt got within one run when Levesque singled to center. Levesque was 3-3 in the game. Penn State ended the inning with the next batter, going into the sixth with a 4-3 lead.

“I think I was just seeing the ball pretty well today,” Levesque said. “Having runners on and my team having opportunity to score, I think I just tried to take advantage of every opportunity I got.”

The Nittany Lions added some cushion to their lead in the sixth when junior outfielder Christa Wagner scored on a throwing error by Gray. Penn State scored two more runs to make the score 7-3, prompting Pitt to remove its starting pitcher. Knight was replaced with senior Taylor Rahach.

Rahach was three pitches into her relief when she gave up a fly ball to center, allowing another run to score, making the score 8-3.

Pitt wasn’t able to get back any runs on offense in the sixth. Despite a three-up, three-down top of the seventh and getting runners in scoring position, the Panthers were once again unable to plate any runs in the final inning.

“I would say I thought we had a good showing out there today,” Gray said. “Some things just didn’t fall our way, we just didn’t get key hits when we needed to. But I think just keep persevering, just leaning on each other and keep swinging the bats and things will fall into place.”

Both teams finished with one error, but Penn State took the edge offensively, outhitting Pitt 9-7.

The Panthers will be back in action this weekend looking to get their first home win and end their five-game losing streak in a weekend series against UNC at Vartabedian Field.

“We’ve just got to keep grinding and we have to keep our mind right,” Hermanek said. “The biggest thing right now is just being self-believers that we’re going to turn the page and we’re gonna answer a new call and it’s going to happen.”

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