Penn State 2, McNeese State 1

May 21, 2005

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Penn State (36-22) used an exciting 2-1 win over McNeese State (34-35) Saturday evening to advance to meet Texas A&M again on Sunday, May 22, in NCAA Regional softball action. The No. 5 Aggies got by Penn State 3-2 earlier in the day on Saturday to automatically advance to Sunday action in the double elimination tournament. The Lions and Aggies meet at 1 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. ET, at the Aggie Softball Complex tomorrow. Game two, if necessary, would follow immediately after game one action tomorrow. Penn State can earn a Super Regional berth with a pair of wins over the Aggies.

In Saturday night's game, lead-off Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) got on with a single to start the game, but the was out at second on a fielder's choice to sophomore Jen Williams (Stillwater, Okla.). Williams stole second, but would get no further for the Lions in the top of the first inning, leaving the game scoreless.

Second team all-Great Lakes Region pitcher Missy Beseres (Golden Valley, Minn.) took to the circle again for her third start in three games of the NCAA regional. A walk and an error put the Lions' in a dangerous position with Cowgirl runners on second and third base with only one out in the third inning. Beseres went to work, striking out McNeese shortstop Brooke Broadhead and getting Beth Jordan to pop-up to Lion shortstop Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) to end the threat.

The game remained scoreless into the top of the fifth inning when a hard hit ball to third base by Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.) was ruled an error to give the Lions a baserunner to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Destinie Chavez (San Leandro, Calif.), Penn State second baseman Katie Stauffer (Manassas, Va.) walked to put Lion runners on first and second. After a strikeout for out No.2 on the Lions, it was up to lead-off Acunto to get Reynolds home safely, and she did more than that. Smacking a double to the wall in left centerfield, Acunto sent two runs home for the Lions, including what would be the game-winning RBI in Stauffer.

The Lions scattered a pair of singles throughout the remainder of the game, but couldn't add to their run total, setting the stage for a dramatic ending. A Tonya Edland homerun for McNeese State in the bottom of the sixth inning and a few long outs kept Lion fans on the edge of their seats to the finish. Then in the bottom of the seventh, down only one run with two outs, a single and wild pitch put a runner at second for Cowgirl first baseman Jana Jones, who was at the plate. Jones gave her team the single they thought they needed to score pinch runner Shayla Cormier from second, but centerfielder Leigh Murray (Fairfax Station, Va.) had other ideas. Murray came up firing once she fielded the single, and threw a perfect strike to all-region catcher Hollee Haines (Riverside, Calif.) to get Cormier when she arrived at the plate, sending the Lions into Sunday's action and ending the Cowgirls' season.

Beseres (17-12) got the win with three strikeouts, with Reynolds earning the save, her first of her career. Cowgirl pitcher Jessica Denham (18-20) struck out five in the loss.

Penn State, 2-1 in the tournament, meets Texas A&M (46-8) Sunday, May 22, at 1 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. ET, to continue regional action. The Lions will need back-to-back wins to advance to next weekend's Super Regionals.

-- Courtesy PSU