After losing twice to Delaware in their return to action, Penn softball bounced back on Saturday, sweeping St. Joe’s in a doubleheader at Penn Park.
Both matchups were marked by a seemingly improved Penn defense, with each of the two pitchers shutting down most of the batters they faced and several Quakers making some huge plays in the field.
“There was definitely really great defense behind me the entire time,” senior pitcher Abigail Abramson, who pitched the entirety of the first game, said. “Our outfielders were spot-on all day covering so much ground. Everybody really made plays when it counted.”
The first of the two games was a close one, with the matchup coming down to the wire in a low-scoring 2-1 Quaker win. In the second contest, however, Penn dominated, besting the Hawks by a 7-1 margin.
The first game opened up with left fielder Brianna Brown making a diving catch to stave off a hit. Penn went on to score their first run of the day in the bottom of the first, as all three of the first Quaker batters got on the bag, with freshman Sammy Fenton bringing freshman Brianna Brown home on an RBI groundout.
In the top of the sixth inning, St. Joe’s tied the score up at 1-1 with an RBI bunt into the infield. The play appeared to be a fielding mishap, with the Quakers not knowing where to go with the ball.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth inning, senior Lucy Yang got hit by a pitch with no outs. After two successful at bats that saw Fenton and sophomore Sarah Schneider get out but advance Yang, freshman Julia Mortimer hit an RBI single to bring Yang home, giving the Quakers a 2-1 lead.
To close the game out, Penn needed to give up no runs in the top of the seventh inning, which came quite narrowly. After an error and a base hit allowed two Hawks batters to reach first and third base, there were two outs. Caela Abadie hit a drive into center field that almost went out of the ballpark, but Brianna Brown caught it at the warning track to secure a 2-1 Quaker victory.
Senior Abigail Abramson pitched a complete game for Penn, with seven strike-outs and no runners allowed on base in the lead-off spot in any of the first five innings. It also happened to be the team’s Senior Day, which she feels lucky to have participated in along with her teammates.
“It was really awesome to be able to have a Senior Day,” Abramson said. “We really didn’t know what this season was going to look like and if we were even going to be able to have a Senior Day, so it was really amazing to have that experience and to be able to play against St. Joes as well was really great.”
The second of the two matchups brought far less stress for Penn.
After a one-two-three top of the first, the Red and Blue achieved their first multiple-run inning of the season, scoring two to start the game.
Both Julia and Sarah Schneider walked, which led to Yang hitting an RBI groundout to bring Julia home. After junior Corrie Phillips walked, Fenton hit an RBI single to bring Sarah Schneider home, giving the Quakers a two-run lead.
The onslaught didn’t stop, as the bottom of the second inning was marked by a three-run home run for junior Emma Nedley, giving Penn a 5-0 lead.
“We were having trouble just pushing runs across later on in the game, and that’s kind of been a habit of ours, so I was looking to just hit something that looks good,” Nedley said about the home run. “I’ve been just eager to hit in general, so the first pitch was kind of fat, right over the middle of the plate and a little bit up in the zone, so I just kept my hands up. My parents were actually able to witness it too, so I was really excited.”
In the top of the third, an infield error brought a St. Joe’s runner home, but that would be the only time they would score during the second game.
The bottom of the third continued Penn’s dominant performance, with Fenton hitting a single and Mortimer hitting a double to lead off the half inning. After that, sophomore Alyssa Pope hit an RBI blooper into the infield, which was then followed up by a Nedley RBI single, her fourth run batted in of the game.
Penn ended up scoring all of their runs in the first three innings, with the game ending in a decisive 7-1 victory. In the win, junior pitcher Julia Longo gave up only two hits and struck out six batters.
Sweeping the doubleheader was a huge accomplishment for Penn softball, as it improved mightily since their last time playing.
“The major thing we’ve been talking about through practice and everything all year is just maintaining our energy, and we’ve been struggling to keep it up through [the first] two games,” Nedley said. “So that was definitely a goal of ours yesterday, and I think we were very successful in that, and that not only showed in our play, but we had more fun doing it.”
The Quakers will look to continue their winning ways against Villanova on Wednesday in another double-header.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.