CLERMONT, FL – The Penn State Behrend softball team dropped a pair of matches to start the 2017 season, falling 9-8 to Heidelberg in the opener and 3-0 to Ohio Northern in the nightcap over spring break in Clermont, Florida.
In the opener, the Lions (0-2) rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the first inning to fall short by one run after scoring two in the seventh to the Student Prince. Lacey Hilderbrand (Pittsburgh, PA/North Allegheny) and Alayna Derzak (Seven Fields, PA/Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic) went 3-for-4 in their debut in a Behrend uniform.
AJ Nichols (Pittsburgh, PA/Shaler) pitched 6.1 innings and gave up one earned run while striking out seven for the loss in the circle. Jillian Williams (Corry, PA/Corry) started the game, allowing six hits and one earned run in her first collegiate start.
Heidelberg used two doubles and a single to score six runs on six hits out of the gate. The Lions got on the board in the bottom of the first on a Shannon McDonnell (Fayston, VT/Harwood Union) single through the left side to score Kelsey Heinrich (Brookville, PA/Brookville).
Behrend held the Student Princes scoreless over the next four innings, while adding two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to knot the game at 6-all.
Two errors by the Lions and a pair of doubles led to three runs in the top of the sixth for Heidelberg. Behrend rallied in the seventh, starting with a walk from McDonnell. She then scored on a double by Alexa Bupp (Warren, PA/Warren) to make it 9-7. With one out, Hilderbrand singles to center field before the Lions picked up their second out. Derzak singled to left field to score Bupp, but the Student Princes got the final out for a 9-8 victory.
In game two, Hailee Loughman went 3-for-3 with two RBI doubles to help Ohio Northern record a 3-0 win.
McDonnell and Carson Hauser (Westfield, NY/Westfield Academy) each tallied two hits for Behrend, while Rachel Miller (North East, PA/North East) threw a complete game with five strikeouts for the loss.
The Polar Bears used six hits to score three runs, one in the first, one in the fourth and one in the sixth to edge the Lions. Behrend left five runners stranded, including two in the second inning.
Kirsten Lightel threw a six-hit shutout, fanning two batters for the win in the circle for the Ohio Northern.
The Lions return to action tomorrow against Concordia at 8 a.m. and Wheaton (Ill.) at 10:30 a.m.