That’s how long it’s been since Penn played its last softball game, but Tuesday marked the end of that hiatus.
Although the Quakers were back in action at Penn Park, their offense struggled to produce any runs, and they were swept in their doubleheader against Delaware. The first game was close throughout, but the Quakers (0-2) couldn’t pull out a victory and lost in extra innings, 5-2. In the second game, Delaware (11-2) only needed five innings to shut out Penn by a score of 11-0.
The Red and Blue had several opportunities to drive runs home in both games, but weren’t able to find the clutch hit they needed. Penn out-hit Delaware in the first game, but left eight runners on base. Between both games, Penn ended the day with 14 runners left on base, and were only 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
Although the Quakers have been taking live at-bats against their own pitchers for the past couple of months, this was the first time their offense has faced unfamiliar pitching in over a year.
“Since we haven’t seen a lot with ball movement at the plate, we need to start adjusting to that earlier,” junior first baseman Julia Schneider said. “Now that we’ve seen it, and had a couple games facing some different pitching, we’ll start getting into a groove and bringing runners home.”
Not only did Penn have to adjust to new pitching, but also to a different atmosphere with an empty Penn Park.
“Looking at the actual bleachers and not seeing anyone, it does change the feeling of the atmosphere, but it doesn’t really affect how the game is played,” junior pitcher Julia Longo said. “If anything, it makes it more quiet and we hear each other a lot more, which is actually a bit more helpful.”
In the first game, Delaware jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. Penn was able to get one back in the third, after an error allowed junior second baseman Ashley Waco to reach base to start the inning. Waco came around to score later in the inning on a single by junior Julia Schneider.
“Just knowing that we haven’t played in a year and that we’re out there to have fun, I was pretty relaxed and everyone was super loud during that first game,” Schneider said. “I just figured I keep it simple and get some base hits.”
Schneider would tack on another RBI in the fifth inning with a single that tied the game up at two. However, that would be the last run of the day for the Quakers. Delaware’s Chayanna Gallardo finally broke the tie with a home run to lead off the 8th inning off of Longo. The Quakers then gave up two more unearned runs later in the inning to cement their loss.
Longo finished the afternoon with only three earned runs, one walk and six strikeouts.
In the second game, Delaware’s offense picked up where they left off, while Penn’s offense remained dormant. The Quakers managed only four hits in the game, all of which were singles.
Sophomore Bella Fiorentino started the second game on the mound for Penn, and gave up three runs in as many innings. Fiorentino’s struggles, however, came in the fourth inning where she gave up six earned runs before being taken out of the game.
The Quakers had a chance to respond and bring the game closer in the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to two errors by Delaware. Despite loading the bases, the Quakers were unable to drive in any runners.
The Blue Hens went on to quickly tack on two more runs in the fifth inning, and with the Quakers’ offense unable to produce, the mercy rule was invoked.
“We were actually pretty well prepared," Longo said. "The only thing we weren’t necessarily prepared for was the mental stamina of actually having to be on the field for four plus hours, but other than that, we all had the mindset going into this season that we were going to be able to get some games in."
The Red and Blue will have time to fine-tune their offense and bounce back before their doubleheader against Big 5 foe Saint Joseph’s (10-8) on Saturday.
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