September 22, 2019 | 77° F

Rutgers wins home opening series over Penn State

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Last weekend, the Rutgers softball team played Penn State in a three-game series for its home opener. It was also the first full Big Ten series the Knights played this season. 

Rutgers came out of the weekend with the series victory, winning two games out of three. The Knights improved to 17-16 on the season, while the Nittany Lions moved to 6-23 overall. 

In game one, the most exciting game of the series, Rutgers came away with a walk-off 6-5 win in the bottom of the seventh inning. 

Down 2 runs going into the bottom half of the seventh, senior first baseman Rebecca Hall and freshman infielder Myah Moy started the inning off with consecutive singles to put runners on first and second. The single by Hall was her 200th career hit, only the fourth athlete in program history to ever reach that mark. 

After a passed ball advanced both runners to second and third, sophomore infielder Nicole Bowman reached on a fielder’s choice to first base, while Hall scored, tying the game at 5 runs each. With a runner on first and third, Bowman stole second and senior catcher Sierra Maddox walked to load the bases. 

That set the stage for freshman infielder Erin Collins, who came up with the bases loaded and no outs, in a tie ball game in the bottom of the last inning. Collins hit a grounder right back to Penn State's pitcher, Madison Shaffer, who elected to throw the ball to first base for the force out, which allowed Moy to score from third base and win the game 6-5. 

Shaffer could have easily thrown the ball home for the force out, which would have been the first out of the inning and the game would still have been tied at 5 apiece. Shaffer moved to 2-11 on the season with the loss. 

Starting in the circle for the Knights in game one was sophomore Cambria Keefer, who only lasted one inning after allowing 2 earned runs. 

In relief came freshman Taryn Collins who allowed 3 runs over three innings of work, before being replaced by junior pitcher Whitney Jones, who pitched the final three innings allowing no runs and picking up the win to improve her record to 7-6 on the season. 

The first three batters in Rutgers' lineup certainly produced in game one, with junior infielder Jess Hughes going 2-4 with 2 runs scored, Hall going 3-4 with 2 runs scored and two RBI’s and Moy who went 2-4 with 1 run scored and one RBI.  

In game two on Saturday, Jones pitched six full innings for the Knights, allowing only 2 earned runs en route to a 4-2 Rutgers win, and moving her record in the circle to 8-6. Freshman Bianca Vozenilek closed things out for the Knights in the seventh inning, working herself out of a jam to pick up her second save of the season. 

Hall was 2-4 in the game, while stealing a bag. Hughes also got a hit, which moved her hit streak to 13 consecutive games. 

Game three of the series came on Easter Sunday at noon. In that game, the Lions exploded for 16 hits and 7 runs to down Rutgers, 7-3. 

The Knights threw five different pitchers at Penn State, but at the end of the game it was Jones who took the loss, pitching two and one third innings, allowing 3 runs (0 runs were earned). Jones took all three decisions in the series, going 2-1 from the circle overall. 

Hughes singled in the game to move her hit streak to 14 straight games. During her hit streak, Hughes is batting a red hot .432 and reaching on base at a .519 clip. 

With the series all said and done, Rutgers is now 2-2 in Big Ten Conference games. The Knights will now host non-conference opponent St. Joseph's on Wednesday at home. 

For updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Matthew Howe

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