Freshman Laura Messina pitched a complete game as the Central Connecticut softball team (5-4) defeated Penn State (7-11) on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils scored early in the game and then relied on pitching and defense to hold off the Nittany Lions, 4-3.
Senior Rebecca Mussatti started Central's first inning rally by beating out an infield single. Freshman Kat Malcolm followed with a long fly ball to right that hit off of the fence after the outfielder stopped to avoid running into the wall, but Malcolm was limited to a single on the play as Mussatti had to wait for the ball to land before advancing.
Sophomore Tessa Brown delivered a single back through the middle that plated Mussatti as Malcolm and Brown moved to second and third on the throw.
Junior Kelsey Barlow plated two more runs for the Blue Devils when she chopped the first pitch of her at bat over the first base bag. Malcolm and Brown both came around to score on the hit, which gave the Blue Devils an early 3-0 lead.Brown's RBI Single
Penn State answered with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, but freshman Laura Messina was able to pitch out of further trouble with the help of her defense. With two on and two out, senior Sarah Vlahos chased a foul pop-up deep down the left field line for the final out of the inning.
Vlahos followed her great defensive play by leading off the second inning with a single. After stealing second and advancing to third on a passed ball, she came around to score on sophomore Arielle Bruno's RBI single.
Penn State cut the deficit to two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Messina almost stranded the runner at third base, but a two out error allowed the Nittany Lions to plate the run.
Penn State threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, but Messina struck out pinch-hitter Jordan Wheatley to end the rally.
The Nittany Lions used a seventh inning rally to plate a third run, but Messina pitched out of further trouble to earn the victory.
Messina threw seven innings and allowed six hits, three runs, two earned, and struck out four. She improved to 3-2 on the season and is now 3-0 over her last four games.
"Laura keeps finding ways to finish the game," head coach Jeff Franquet said. "She does a great job of staying focused and working out of trouble and offensively, we had some timely hits from Tessa and Kelsey."
Brown and Bruno each had a pair of hits and a RBI to lead the offense. Barlow contributed a pair of RBI.
The Blue Devils return to action this afternoon against the host Bulls of USF.