READING, Pa. – It was a milestone victory of sorts for the Gallaudet University softball program on Saturday at the Hintz Athletic Field as the Bison defeated Penn St.-Berks 8-3 in the second game of their North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) doubleheader.
The win is the first for the Bison in the NEAC since they joined the conference last summer. The victory is also the first conference win for Gallaudet since an 11-7 win over Stevenson University back on March 12, 2009 when the Bison were members of the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). Finally, the conference win is the first for first-year head coach Joseph Kolcun.
The Bison (4-16, 1-7 NEAC South) bounced back in the second game after being held to just two hits in the first game as Penn St.-Berks pitcher Larissa Tenley led the Nittany Lions (11-14, 8-6) to an 18-0 shutout in five innings. Tenley (6-6) pitched a gem as she allowed Bison sophomore Nicole O'Malley (Fredericksburg, Va.) to leadoff with a single before she retired the next 12 batters, five via strikeout. She finished the game with eight strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Rachel Sweigart (Big Rock, Ill.) got touched up for 15 runs in two and a third innings as she suffered the loss for the Bison.
In the second game, the Bison got off to a fast and furious start as the Buff and Blue scored two runs in the first inning and followed with three in the second off Nittany Lion pitcher Devon Denker (4-9). Gallaudet blasted two doubles in the fourth to plate two more runs. The Bison pushed across an eighth and final run in the seventh.
Four different Bison had two or more hits in the victory led by pitcher Alicia Johnson (San Jose, Calif.) who had three hits, scored twice and had one RBI. O'Malley, senior Alicia Balzer (Montgomery Village, Md.) and junior Casey McCullough (Oceanside, Calif.) collected two hits apiece. O'Malley and Balzer both scored twice and drove in one run. McCullough had two RBI and one double.
Johnson was also effective in the circle as she went the distance and allowed three runs on six hits, walked five and struck out two. For Johnson (2-5) the runs allowed and wild pitches (one) were the lowest this season for a game started by the sophomore.
Gallaudet and Penn St.-Berks met last Sunday for a doubleheader at the GU Softball Field where the Nittany Lions swept the twin bill with 18-5, 7-3 victories. Before the fourth and final game of the series today the Nittany Lions had outscored the Bison 42-8.
Gallaudet doesn't have a long time to relish the big win as the Bison will play two conference games against Penn St.-Harrisburg tomorrow (Sunday, April 10) at 1 p.m.