Lady Lions Sweep Medaille to Stay Alive in Postseason Hunt

Photo: Freshman Sarah Gearhart pitches during game two of the Lady Lions' doubleheader against Medaille on Friday at Iron Horse Sports Complex.
Photo: Freshman Sarah Gearhart pitches during game two of the Lady Lions' doubleheader against Medaille on Friday at Iron Horse Sports Complex.

WINDBER, Pa. – Penn State Altoona softball played its first-ever indoor games on Friday, when the Lady Lions swept Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Medaille College in a doubleheader at the Iron Horse Sports Complex.

The games were originally to be hosted by Medaille in Buffalo, but the doubleheader was moved indoors to a neutral site due to rain on Friday. Medaille remained the designated home team for both games.

Penn State Altoona (17-17, 7-9 AMCC) significantly improved its prospects of earning a berth into the upcoming AMCC Tournament with a pair of wins over Medaille (11-19, 5-9 AMCC). In game one, the Lady Lions won 9-6 in extra innings. In game two, Penn State Altoona prevailed 6-1.

"Today, under not perfect conditions, we played two pretty good games. We almost gave the first one away, but we came back and won that. It took some heart to win that first game, and we carried that momentum into the second game," said Penn State Altoona head coach Joe Merilli. "We got two really well-pitched games by Sid [Lewis] and Sarah [Gearhart]. Going into tomorrow, if we can keep this going and get two more wins, it pretty much secures our spot in the tournament."

Game One: Penn State Altoona 9, Medaille 6 (Final/8 innings)

The Lady Lions built a 4-0 lead through six innings, only to have Medaille rally for four runs to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. But Penn State Altoona regrouped in extra innings, outscoring Medaille 5-2 in the eighth to secure a three-run win.

Penn State Altoona totaled 13 hits as a team, its second-highest hit total of the season.

Olivia Miller (West Newton, PA/Yough) went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs batted in. Haley Giedroc (Howard, PA/Bald Eagle) was also 3-for-5, recording one RBI and one run scored.

Jayde Burge (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) finished 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Abby Showers (Philipsburg, PA/Philipsburg-Osceola) was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, and Meghan Marasti (Pittsburgh, PA/Penn-Trafford) also hit 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.

Sidney Lewis (Smithmill, PA/Moshannon Valley) pitched a complete game to improve her season record to 9-4 after the win. In eight innings, she yielded one earned run and struck out five batters.

Penn State Altoona scored two runs in the top of the third to take a 2-0 lead, when Miller's two-out, two-run double to left-center gave the Lady Lions the game's first runs.

Another two-out hit benefitted the Lady Lions in the fourth, when Lewis helped her own cause with an RBI single to center. Penn State Altoona added a run in the sixth on Ellie Leyo's (Irvona, PA/Glendale) sacrifice fly to right.

But Medaille got four runs across – all with two outs – in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score and send the game into extras. Laura Kratzke's RBI single to center put the Lady Mavericks on the board. After a walk, an error allowed Aliyah Dandy to score, and Maddy Glena's RBI single to center cut Penn State Altoona's lead to one. Another error let the tying run score, as Abby Nicometi came home to knot the score 4-4.

The game proceeded into the eighth inning, when the international tiebreaker rule took effect.

In the top of the eighth, Jessica Willits (Jersey Shore, PA/Jersey Shore) drove the go-ahead run in with a sac bunt. The next play resulted in a throwing error that allowed Brittney Dellaquila (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts) and Willits to both score, and RBI singles from Marasti and Giedroc increased Penn State Altoona's lead to 9-4.

Medaille made some noise in the bottom of the eighth, getting an RBI single from Mercedes Sulzbach to bring one run in before a throwing error allowed her to score later in the inning. But Penn State Altoona ended the inning without allowing the Lady Mavericks to get any more runs across.

Game Two: Penn State Altoona 6, Medaille 1

Penn State Altoona built another lead in the second game of the doubleheader, this time ending it without any late-inning drama. The Lady Lions' bats continued to work, as the team produced 11 more hits.

Showers led the way with a 3-for-4 performance, finishing with a triple, three RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base. Marasti went 2-for-3 with two RBI, and Lewis hit 2-for-4.

Sarah Gearhart (McVeytown, PA/Mount Union) provided another strong start at pitcher, tossing a complete game to grab the win and improve to 5-7. In seven innings, she allowed just one run on six hits and two walks with one strikeout.

Penn State Altoona wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, plating one run in the top of the first. Showers led off the frame with a triple down the right field line and scored one batter later on Giedroc's sac bunt.

Marasti's two-out RBI base hit in the second increased the Lady Lions' advantage to 2-0.

Medaille cut Penn State Altoona's lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the third, when Sulzbach led off with a double and scored on a throwing error during the next play.

But the Lady Lions came back with two runs in the top of the fourth, when Showers' two-out, two-run single to right increased her squad's lead to 4-1.

Penn State Altoona picked up a pair of insurance runs in the sixth, getting an RBI base hit to right-center from Showers and an RBI single to left-center from Marasti.

Lady Lions softball finishes its regular season schedule tomorrow on the road, as the team is traveling to Buffalo, N.Y. to play AMCC opponent D'Youville College in a doubleheader with big postseason implications for both teams.

At 7-9 in the conference, Penn State Altoona currently sits in the sixth and final spot in the upcoming AMCC Tournament. D'Youville, at 8-8 in the conference, is in the fifth spot.

Game one of the doubleheader tomorrow is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.