The Penn State Berks softball team

Softball earns fourth NEAC title in five years

The Penn State Berks softball team took down Keuka College, 8-0, in the championship game on Sunday afternoon.

The Penn State Berks softball team took down Keuka College, 8-0, in the championship game on Sunday afternoon at Hintz Athletic Field to earn its fourth NEAC Softball title in five years. Chelsea Bright was named the NEAC Tournament MVP after continuing her stellar play at third base and finishing 3-for-4 with three RBI in the title game.

The Nittany Lions extended their winning streak to 24 games and improved to 28-7 on the year, while the Wolves drop to 27-11 overall. With the victory, Berks earns the conference's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Regional Tournament.

Jessica Rozick dazzled in the pitcher's circle on Sunday afternoon as she picked up all three wins in the tournament. She scattered five hits and worked around two walks to finish with her second straight shutout victory over the Wolves. The sophomore right-hander gave up a bunt single to the leadoff batter of the game, but got the next batter to pop her sacrifice bunt attempt in the air and Megan Olsen made an amazing dive catch to record the first out. On the next pitch, the runner on first tried to steal second, but Ashley Malek gunned her down at second base. Rozick then recorded her first of five strikeouts on the day to end the first inning.

Keuka again led off the next inning with a single, but Rozick forced a pair of foul fly outs to the corner infielders and then a grounder to second base to leave the runner stranded. The Wolves got a leadoff double in the third and two batters later an infield single put runners on the corners with just one out. After a stolen base, Keuka had runners on second and third, still with just one out. Rozick got a ground out to shortstop and Carley Smith was able to look the runner back to keep a run off the board. Rozick finished off the inning by getting a pop up in foul territory to Olsen to escape the jam.

The top of the fourth inning did not start out much better for Berks, as Keuka had its fourth straight leadoff batter on with a hit. The next batter drew a walk to put the first two runners aboard with no one out. The Wolves sacrifice attempt was thwarted when Bright fielded the bunt and spun around with a throw to the third base bag that Smith caught on the run to get the first out. Rozick struck out the next batter before a walk loaded up the bases. But the sophomore kept her composure and recorded another strikeout to stand the three runners on base.

Rozick had her first clean inning in the fifth with a strikeout, followed by back-to-back fly outs to shallow outfield that Kendel Reed tracked down on the run.

Jenna Heffner led off the bottom of the first with a single to left center, but was left there after a couple of hard hit balls went directly to the the outfielders. Heffner got the offense going again in the third inning with a one-out walk and got into scoring position after stealing second base just ahead of the catcher's throw. Bright then lined a single to left field to score Heffner from second base and give Berks an early 1-0 advantage.

After two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Heather Rissell had a hard fought at-bat that ended with a walk to start the two-out rally. Madison Newhouser followed with a single smoked through the left side of the infield. Heffner then drove a line drive to left field that plated Rissell to put Berks ahead 2-0. Bright had a shot down the left field line that was foul the slimmest of margins that would have been trouble and scored two runs. On the next pitch, Bright lined a single down the right field line to score Newhouser and upped the Nittany Lions lead to 3-0.

Olsen led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to field and Becca Faust later reached on an error by the shortstop to put runners on first and second with one down. Reed followed with an RBI double to right center to score Olsen and Rissell added a single to left to drive in Reed and Faust, giving Berks 6-0 lead. Newhouser collected her second hit with another strong grounder through the left side of the infield. With two outs, Bright singled down the left field line to score Rissell from second and the throw from the left fielder to third base sailed high and out of play to allowed Newhouser to score and end the game due to the eight-run mercy rule.

Once Newhouser touched home the celebration began with the team storming the field, the parents and Berks fans yelling and taking videos and pictures of the triumph. The win was a sweet one as the Nittany Lions were able to gain some redemption on Keuka, who defeated Berks at their field in the 2016 title game.

The Nittany Lions will find out what regional they will go to and who their opponent will be during the NCAA Selection show on Monday at 1 p.m. Click here to watch the selection show live tomorrow afternoon. Check back on the Berks athletics website for more information about the NCAA Tournament after information is released.