Softball advances to Big Ten quarterfinals with 5-2 win over Illinois

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A fast start with four runs over the first two innings catapulted Penn State to a 5-2 victory over Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten softball tournament in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday evening. The 11th-seeded Nittany Lions (16-33, 5-17 Big Ten) will face No. 3 seed Minnesota at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday at Bowlin Stadium in the quarterfinals.

Freshman pitcher Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) (13-17) picked up her 13th win of the season with her 14th complete game. Jones struck out six batters to reach to 100-strikeout mark in 2013 while allowing just two runs on six hits and did not give up more than one hit in an inning. Pepper Gay received the loss for Illinois while allowing three earned runs on six hits and walking five.

Senior Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) fell just a triple short of hitting the cycle as she doubled in the first, singled in the fourth and homered in the seventh while also drawing a walk in the second to finish 3-3 at the plate with three runs and an RBI. The solo shot is the 20th of the season for Bell as she becomes the first Nittany Lion to reach that total.

Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) picked up a pair of RBI on a two-out triple in the second while Jones added an RBI single in the first. Alyssa Sovereign (L a Canada, Calif.) singled in the second while Liz Presto (Bethlehem, Pa.) drew a pair of walks.

The Nittany Lions grabbed a quick lead in the top of the first. Bell led off with her 13th double of the season, a shot to the wall in right before stealing third. After Johnson walked and was replaced by pinch runner Alicia Walker (Los Alamitos, Calif.), Reina Furuya (Waipahu, Hawaii) trotted to first with a walk of her own. With bases loaded, Jones dribbled a slow roller to the pitcher that allowed her to beat out a throw to first while Bell slid in safely at home for the first run of the game. A few moments later, Walker made it 2-0 as she scored on a wild pitch that bounced at the front of the plate.

After Illinois tied it up with a two-run home run by Jess Perkins in the bottom of the inning, Penn State posted its second-consecutive two-run frame in the second to take the lead for good. A two-out walk for Bell and error on a grounder for Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) set up Johnson's triple to right field to score them both and give the Blue and White a 4-2 advantage.

After a leadoff double for Illinois in the sixth, Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) made the defensive play of the game as she extended to haul in a line drive from Bauch before making the four-yard distance to slide in second and force the double play and clear the bases.

With the wind blowing in toward home, Bell sent a ball in flight over the right field wall to increase the Penn State lead to 5-2 and end an 0-9 stretch in the game at the plate for the Blue and White.

With her RBI single in the first, Jones reached the 40-hit plateau and is the second Penn Stater to do so alongside Bell.   

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Last Updated May 09, 2013