ERIE, Pa. – The Penn State Behrend softball team captured the 2012 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) Championship with a walk-off home run by Ashley Gruber (Burton, OH/Berkshire). The Lions defeated Penn St. Altoona 5-4 for their fifth AMCC crown.
Gruber cleared the fence for the second straight day, this time sending Behrend into the NCAA Tournament.
After two scoreless innings by both teams to start the game, the Lions got on the board first in the bottom of the third. Amy Greene (Erie, PA/Strong Vincent) hit a sacrifice fly to plate Kelsey Fuller (Albion, PA/Northwestern) for the first run. With two outs in the inning, Samantha Grismore (Westfield, NY/Westfield Academy & Central) clutched up for Behrend with an RBI single to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
Penn State Altoona was not going quietly though. The Lions came back with two in the fifth to knot the game at 2-all. In a game where the momentum shifted with each inning, Penn State Behrend put up another two runs in the bottom half of the fifth. Once again with two outs, the Lions got a huge hit. Chelsi Riordan (Conneaut Lake, PA/Linesville) ripped a two-run single to right field to regain the advantage for Behrend.
Trailing 4-2 in the seventh, Altoona found some life. With runners on second and third and two outs, Christina Stathes hit a single up the middle and suddenly the game was tied again at 4-all.
Both teams failed to score in the eighth, sending the game into the ninth. After Julie Heinl (Pittsburgh, PA/North Allegheny) sat Altoona down in order, it was Behrend's turn to try and win the game. With the bases empty and one out, Gruber stepped to the plate. The senior saw a pitch she liked and crushed it over the left center fence for the winning run.
Gruber led the offense with two hits, including her ninth homer of the year.
Penn State Behrend will now move onto the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA will announce an opponent and location for the Lions on Monday.