Pitt softball falls to in-state rival Penn State in fierce pitching duel


Colleen Nguyen | Staff Photographer

Pitt senior outfielder Bailey Drapola (24) prepares to bat during a softball game vs. St. Francis on April 6, 2022.

By Dylan Grace, For The Pitt News

Intrastate rivalry softball games already have high stakes. But add in a thrilling pitcher’s duel, and the intensity rises to a new level. 

That’s exactly what happened Tuesday afternoon at Beard Field, as Pitt softball (14-11, 0-3 ACC) narrowly lost 1-0 in extra innings to in-state rival Penn State (18-4, 0-0 BIG 10) on Tuesday in State College.

Pitt’s starter Abby Edwards and Penn State’s Bailey Parshall pitching chess match started as soon as the teams took the field. Parshall, who entered the game with a 1.36 ERA, ultimately edged out Edwards, but the battle was fierce the whole game. 

Graduate student Yvonne Whaley reached on an error in the first inning, giving the Panthers their first base runner in the game. 

The Panthers recorded their first base hit in the second inning, with senior third baseman Kayla Lane hitting an infield single. However, attempting to add to her Panther team-high 11 stolen bases, the umpire determined that Lane left early, resulting in the third out of the inning.

Pitt eventually got the bats going, as Panther senior second baseman Kat Rodriguez singled down the left field line with two outs in the third inning.

In the top of the fourth frame, Whaley reached base for the second time in the game on a single to right field, giving the Panthers’ early inning life. Sophomore infielder Haylie Brunson grounded out to the pitcher on a fielder’s choice, moving Whaley to second. With the Panthers in scoring position, Whaley stole third, but was stranded following two strikeouts. 

In the bottom half of the inning, Edwards gave up her first hit of the afternoon, as Emily Maddock recorded a single up the middle for the Nittany Lions. Penn State head coach Clarisa Crowell elected to use sophomore pinch runner Maddie Gordon with an opportunity to strike first on the board. In the next at-bat, after a flyout, the speedy Gordon attempted to tag up to second, but the Panthers center fielder Bailey Drapola delivered a perfect throw to second, causing a run-down and out for Pitt. 

In the fifth inning, Parshall made quick work of the Panthers, retiring all three batters faced. Edwards responded by matching Parshall, pitching a 1-2-3 inning of her own for Pitt.

Parshall mirrored her success in the last inning by retiring all three batters. Then, in the bottom half of the sixth, Nittany Lion second baseman Melody Coombs lined a triple down the line, recording the first extra-base hit of the game.

With Penn State in a serious position to strike first and take the late-game lead, Edwards was in trouble. But Edwards battled with Maddock and forced a groundout to third base, leading Pitt into the seventh inning with six scoreless frames.

But the Panther offense remained stagnant, despite Edwards’ defensive efforts.The Panthers failed to reach base for the third consecutive inning, as Parshall held Pitt’s offense in check in the seventh inning. 

After a quick groundout for the Panthers in the top half of the inning, Edwards recorded her first walk of the game. Edwards shook off the walk, retiring the next two batters and leading Pitt into extra innings with the game tied up at zero.

In the eighth inning, Parshall continued to control the Panthers’ bats in her chess match with Edwards by sitting down her 12th straight Pitt hitter. After a quick groundout, Nittany Lions junior left fielder Liana Jones singled to shortstop and stole second, giving Penn State a late-inning scoring opportunity with the game on the line. Edwards then recorded her second walk of the evening. Pitt head coach Jodi Hermanek opted to take Edwards out of the game, marking the end of an impressive night for the Illinois native.

Redshirt sophomore Dani Drogemuller came on relief for the Panthers, facing the daunting task of getting two outs to force the game into a second extra inning. Out of the pitching change timeout, Coombs singled to second, loading the bases. In the next at-bat, Maddock singled to third, knocking in the night’s first run and, ultimately, the game-winning run for Penn State.

The Panthers look to bounce back and notch their first ACC win in a weekend series against UVA at Vartabedian Field. The first game is slated for Friday at 6 p.m. and coverage will air on ACCNX.