March 28, 2014
Site: State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion Softball Park)
Scores: #6 Michigan 6, Penn State 0; #6 Michigan 22, Penn State 0 (5 innings)
Records: U-M (24-6, 5-0 Big Ten), PSU (6-20, 0-5 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 29 -- at Penn State (State College, Pa.), Noon
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan softball team combined shutdown pitching with explosive offense to sweep a doubleheader against Penn State today (Friday, March 28) by a combined score of 28-0 at Nittany Lion Softball Park. U-M took game one, 6-0, and then turned around to put up a 22-0 shellacking in five innings in game two.
In game one, junior lefthanded pitcher Haylie Wagner (Orange, Calif./El Modena) was nearly perfect, keeping the Nittany Lions off the base paths until the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out in the seventh, Wagner hit PSU's Kasie Hatfield, ending the perfect game bid. The next batter, Karlie Habitz, broke up the no-hitter with a single up the middle.
Despite those two blips on the scoresheet, Wagner was masterful throughout the game. The single from Habitz was just the third ball off a Penn State bat that reached the outfield (one flyout in the fourth, one in the sixth). Wagner recovered from the first two baserunners of the game with a pair of strikeouts to end the contest.
The southpaw retired 19 batters in a row, eventually finishing the game with 10 groundball outs and six strikeouts. She did not allow any walks. The one-hitter is the third of her career (last: March 9, 2013, vs. Illinois State).
The top of Michigan's order was particularly productive, with seniors Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community) and Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco) along with sophomore Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) batting 6-for-12 with four runs scored. Each had a pair of hits.
Michigan did the bulk of its damage with a five-run third inning. Romero hit a bases-loaded, two-run single into leftfield to start the scoring. Sophomore Sierra Lawrence (Snellville, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0. Sophomore Kelsey Susalla (Garden City, Mich./Garden City) then delivered a run-scoring single after falling behind 0-2.
Romero added a run in the seventh on her fifth double of the season. Wagner took care of the rest, earning her 16th win of the season (16-0) while tossing her fifth shutout of the season.
In game two, Michigan's offense was simply relentless, piling up runs in every inning of the run-rule victory. U-M scored 20-plus runs for the sixth time in its history and the second time in Big Ten play.
Junior pitcher Sara Driesenga (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville) hit a grand slam in the first inning, the biggest blow in a five-run frame. Driesenga finished the game 1-for-3 with five runs batted in.
The Wolverines never looked back, plating five runs in the second, fourth in the third, three in the fourth and five in the fifth.
Doyle, Sappingfield and Romero tallied their second-straight multi-hit games. Romero went 4-for-4 and scored four times. Freshman Kelly Christner (Tinley Park, Ill./Victor J. Andrew) added three RBI and batted 2-for-4.
A pair of senior outfielders added career highlights with home runs of their own. Senior Katie Luetkens (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) hit a pinch-hit homer in the fourth inning, driving in three runs. It marked just the second at-bat of the season for the senior co-captain and her second career pinch-hit homer. The three RBI are a career high.
Then in the fifth inning, senior Brandi Virgil (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek) blasted the first home run of her career. The laser beam shot over the leftfield wall plated three runs, the first RBI of Virgil's career.
Driesenga was strong in the circle, holding the Nittany Lions to four hits over five innings. She struck out seven -- a new season high -- and did not allow a walk. She improved her record to 2-3.
The Wolverines and Nittany Lions will complete the three-game series on Saturday (March 29) at Nittany Lion Softball Park in State College, Pa. First pitch is scheduled for noon, which is a new start time.
Contact: Michael Kasiborski