LINCOLN, Neb. — The runs came in pairs early and now Penn State is moving on.
The Nittany Lions advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten softball tournament with a 5-2 first-round win over Illinois on Thurday. No. 11 Penn State (16-33, 5-17 Big Ten) plated four runs over the first two innings to take a lead it never relinquished.
Penn State will play No. 3 seed Minnesota in the quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Bowlin Stadium.
Freshman pitcher Macy Jones (13-17) pitched her 14th complete game. Jones struck out six batters to get to the 100-strikeout threshold on the season. Jones allowed just two runs on six hits.
Senior Cassidy Bell was a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Bell doubled in the first, singled in the fourth and homered in the seventh. She drew a walk in the second to finish 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs and an RBI. The solo shot was the 20th of the season for Bell.
Kailyn Johnson picked up a pair of RBIs on a two-out triple in the second while Jones added an RBI single in the first. Alyssa Sovereign singled in the second while Liz Presto drew a pair of walks.