PHILADELPHIA – Senior Liz Lucas became Lehigh’s career leader in home runs but the Lehigh softball team returned to action after a week of games in Florida with two losses to Penn Wednesday at Penn Park. Lehigh squandered a 6-2 lead as the Quakers rallied for a 7-6 win in game one, while the hosts blanked the Mountain Hawks 2-0 in the nightcap.
The losses drop Lehigh to 7-9-1 on the season as the Mountain Hawks enter their home opener this weekend having lost three straight.
Lucas went 3-for-4 while sophomore Cassie Waggy also belted a three run homer in the opener. The Mountain Hawks were limited to six singles in game two, with freshmen Alexis Watanabe and Carissa Zito recording two apiece.
Penn (8-10) took the lead with two runs in the first inning of game one. Stephanie Erosa led off the inning with a solo home run to centerfield, the only earned run allowed by sophomore starter Emily Bausher. Following a walk, a hit and two outs, the Quakers plated a second run as Stephanie Caso scored when Jessica Melendez reached on an error.
Lehigh stormed back scoring three runs in the third and three more in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead after three and a half innings. Lucas tied the game at two with a home run down the right field line with one out in the third inning. The home run was Lucas’ second of the season and 24th of her career, surpassing the mark previously held by Lisa Sweeney ’09. Waggy was then hit by a pitch, and after a fielder’s choice and a single, Bausher helped her own cause with a single to center that scored freshman MacKenzie Velasquez to give the Mountain Hawks a 3-2 lead.
With two on and two out in the fourth, Waggy helped add to Lehigh’s lead with a three-run blast to left center, her second of the season.
Penn capitalized on an error by senior Kristen Mitchell to score four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as Caso delivered a two-out two-run single and Brooke Coloma followed with a two-run double.
Lehigh went back in front as Watanabe scored on a Quaker error in the top of the sixth, but Caso pulled Penn even again with a RBI bunt single in the bottom of the frame. The Mountain Hawks were unable to score in the top of the seventh and Penn pushed home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh on a one out double by Melendez, who scored on a two-out ground rule double by Elysse Gorney.
In game two, Becca Bliss allowed just one earned run in six innings, but Lehigh could not muster much offense against Alexis Borden.
A pair of Lehigh errors and a RBI ground out by Coloma gave Penn a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and the Quakers added a second run in the fourth inning as Melendez led off with a double and then scored on a one out single through the left side by Gorney.
Lehigh posted strong threats in the sixth and seventh innings but the Mountain Hawks were unable to score. Senior Jacqi Kennelly struck out with runners on the corners in the sixth, and then with the bases loaded, Velasquez grounded out to end the inning. The Mountain Hawks put the tying runs on base in the seventh with one out but sophomore Emma Capetz flied out to center and Lucas lined to second base to end the game.
Borden walked one and struck out six in a complete-game effort, while Bliss was saddled with the loss, allowing one earned run while striking out three and walking two. Bliss is now 3-5 on the season.
Junior Ashley Quigley pitched the last 2.2 innings for Lehigh and took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits as she falls to 1-2. Bausher went the first four innings allowing one unearned run on five hits. Lindsay Mann earned the win in relief for the Quakers.
The Mountain Hawks will open their home schedule this weekend when they host Niagara for a four-game series beginning Saturday at Kaufman Field. The teams will play doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday with first pitch for game one both days set for noon. Lehigh won its last 15 home games last season and ended the 2012 campaign with the nation’s second longest home winning streak.