By: Matylda Zamudio
HAMPTON, Va. – On the last day of spring training, the Penn State Beaver women's softball team made its last stop at Virginia Beach to face off against Stratford University on Saturday, where the team split in a doubleheader.
In game one, the Lady Lions scored a run in the final inning to take a close 6-5 victory over Stratford University.
Freshman Taylor Johnson (San Antonio/ East Central) led the offense, earning one run, two hits and an RBI in her three times at-bat.
Senior Vanessa Jackson (Snohomish), freshman Tyler Johnson (San Antonio/East Central), senior Brenna Cepull (Monaca/Central Valley), junior Lacey Weible (Hookstown/South Side) and freshman Peyton Mattson (Irvine/University) each contributed one run apiece.
Jackson, who pitched a complete game, only allowed five runs and struck out three of the 33 batters she faced and earned her second win of the season (2-1).
While both teams went scoreless in the first inning, Beaver got hot in the top of the second. Cepull, who was first at-bat, singled and then advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. After Mattson advanced to second on an error by Stratford's catcher, which prompted Cepull to steal home base, landing Beaver on the board first (1-0). Then, Ta. Johnson singled in Mattson to score Beaver's second run (2-0). Ty. Johnson reached first on an error by Stratford's first basemen and then advanced to third, prompting her sister, Ta. Johnson, to score Beaver's third run of the inning (3-0).
Senior Dina Cable (Mannington/ Salem County Vo Tech), who was next at-bat, doubled in Ty. Johnson on 1-out to round out the scoring in the top of the second and put Beaver ahead 4-0.
But the ladies of Stratford didn't stay quiet on their turn at-bat and scored three runs of their own to leave Beaver ahead by 1. Then, the tables turned for Beaver in the bottom of the third, as Stratford earned two runs to take away the lead (5-4) and then stayed ahead in the fourth. But the Lady Lions evened the score in the fifth, after Cepull singled in Weible to score Beaver's fifth run at the top of the inning (5-5), followed by Beaver making a double-play to force a third out on Stratford, who went scoreless in the bottom of the fifth (5-5).
Beaver sealed the victory in the seventh inning after Jackson doubled at-bat followed by senior Brittany Zahn (New Brighton) making a sacrifice bunt to advance Jackson to second. Jackson then stole home on the next play. The Lady Lions then thwarted Stratford from tying the game in the bottom of the inning and won their first game of the day, 5-4.
Game two was a nail-biter for Beaver. But despite a powerful, four-run performance in the top of the sixth, the Lady Lions lost a close game to Stratford University 7-6.
The game was low in scoring for the first four innings, with the teams tied at 1-1. Beaver wasn't able to score in the top of the fifth, which allowed Stratford to take a one-run lead to wrap the inning (2-1). But the Lady Lions kicked it into high-gear in the top of the sixth and played their most dominant inning of the game. With two outs, Cepull singled in Schroeder to tie the game at 2-2. Cepull then scored a run of her own after Ta. Johnson reached first on an error by Stratford's shortstop (3-2). Beaver scored two more runs to take a 5-2 lead before switching field positions with Stratford. But Stratford made a comeback at the bottom of the inning make it a tie game once again (5-5).
The game remained tied until the eighth and final inning, which began with Ta. Johnson tripling and then scoring a run after her sister, Ty. Johnson reached on a fielder's choice and propelled Beaver ahead 6-5. But the Lady Lions couldn't keep their lead after Stratford made two runs in the bottom of the eighth, handing them a 7-6 loss to split the day 1-1.
Cepull led the offense in game two, contributing one run, three hits and 2 RBIs in her four times at-bat. Ty. Johnson matched Cepull's 2 RBIs and contributed two hits in her five turns at-bat. Senior Carley Schroeder (Freedom), senior Torey Cassidy (Hinsdale/Portville), senior Brittany Garza (La Feria), Mattson and Ta. Johnson each scored a run in the game.
Junior Jessica Hughes (Hopewell), who was on the mound first for Beaver, faced 37 batters and took the loss. After leaving the game tied, she was relieved by Torey Cassidy, who faced the final three batters.
After today's match, Beaver is 4-4 overall for the season. The Lady Lions will play their home opener against Waynesburg University in a doubleheader, on Wednesday, Mar. 5. Game one is slated for 3 p.m., and game two is slated for 5 p.m.