Feb. 11, 2012
Less than 18 hours after dropping a heart-breaking 7-6 decision to 15th ranked Michigan, Louisiana Tech (1-1) bounced back in a big way with a win over the Nittany Lions - a team that participated in the NCAA Tournament last season and who won their opening game Friday against LSU.
Jones (1-0) was solid in the circle for Tech, allowing only two runs - one earned - on seven hits and two walks while striking out three. The junior pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning to preserve the win.
"Michelle pitched really well," said Tech head coach Sarah Dawson. "I thought she did a good job of hitting her spots. She gave her defense balls they could handle all day. The wind was blowing out about 25 miles per hour all game, and she did a great job of keeping the ball low.
"Other than the three errors, I thought our defense did a good job and played solid behind her. Michelle got into a few jams but pitched her way out of them. She didn't compound errors with walks, and that is important in staying away from big innings. She mixed up her speeds and kept the ball low."
After surrendering an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning to fall behind 1-0, Tech mounted serious scoring chances through the first four innings. However, the Lady Techsters failed to come up with a run-scoring hit as they left six runners in scoring position and trailed 1-0 heading into the top of the fifth.
In the fifth, Amanda Krueger drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a Janna Frandrup single through the left side. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch before Dacia Hale tied the game on a ground ball to third base that scored Krueger from third. On the play, Hale was safe on an error. However, Tech was unable to do any more damage in the frame as the two teams were tied at 1-1 after five innings.
"It was a no doubter," Dawson said. "It hit the top of the berm. It was a lot like last night's but higher. She got something inside she could hit. She did a nice job in that at bat. She fell behind 0-2 and battled back to even the count. She got a pitch she could hit."
Freshman Hailey Winter followed with an infield single, chasing Penn State starter Marissa Diescher as Jordan Wheatley came on in relief. Wheatley retired the next two batters before pinch runner Charday Wilson stole second and scored on a single by Krueger through the right side, upping the Tech lead to 3-1.
Frandrup walked to put runners on first and second and then both runners advanced a base on a passed ball. Tech scored an insurance run when Hale's pop up was dropped by the Penn State third baseman, allowing one more run to score.
"I thought we did a good job at the plate," Dawson said. "At the beginning of the game we had a tough time stringing hits together. We had a lot of singles. We did a good job of putting pressure on them every inning. We hit the ball hard all day. We knew it was coming. We just had to stay patient and yet aggressive at the plate. I was pleased with what we did all day."
Tech took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but the Nittany Lions wouldn't go quietly. Two singles and an error by Krueger allowed Penn State to load the bases with one out and then Alyssa Sovereign singled to left field, driving home a run to make the score 4-2.
However, Jones remained strong, inducing a fly ball out to left field and a pop up to the catcher to end the game.
"At that point it was their fourth time through the order and I think the advantage goes to the offense in that situation," Dawson said. "Michelle kept her composure. The game got nerve-racking but we talked to the kids about keeping their composure in those situations. We knew Penn State was good and they weren't going to go away without fighting. This was a good win."
Frandrup and Winter led Tech's nine-hit attack with two hits each while Harmon (1 hit), Krueger (1 hit, 1 RBI, 2 runs), Meghan Knowles (1 hit), Alayna Kipp (1 hit) and Hill (1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 run) all contributed to the box score.
Tech returns to action later today when they face Michigan at 5:30 p.m. CT.