By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State softball team added three more to its wins column after sweeping its conference series against Michigan State over the weekend.
The Nittany Lions faced the Spartans in a doubleheader on Saturday, winning 4-3 and 11-5, and played one more on Sunday afternoon, winning 7-5, to put up a handful of season-bests and power to a four-game winning streak for the second time this season.
In their second game of the series, the Lions scored a season-high 11 runs
on another season-high 16 hits, including three homeruns. One of those homers
came in the third inning of that game from junior second baseman Lauren Yao,
who was also celebrating her 21st birthday that afternoon.
"It was a really great feeling," said Yao. "I've known that it was something I have the ability to do and hitting well in practice and to get it on this day, in particular, it's just a really cool thing to do and I'll definitely remember it."
Penn State tallied impressive numbers off of the mound in the second game as well as senior hurler Lisa Akamine tallied a season-high 12 strikeouts in just six innings of work. Akamine allowed just two runs, one of them unearned, and gave up just two hits against the Spartans.
"Her rise ball was working really well and she just seemed more confident," said sophomore catcher Kasie Hatfield of Akamine. "When she pitches well we all want to produce behind her even more and I think she knew that and she just found her groove."
Before Saturday, the team hadn't scored more than eight runs or tallied more than 11 hits all season. Hatfield and Yao agreed that after being on the road for so much time to begin their year, coming home to Beard Field and playing under sunny State College skies seemed to put the team at ease.
"You realize that being home is an advantage on weekends like these," said Yao. "I think we all wanted to come out and show what we have more and I think that confidence just really carried from one at-bat to another."
Penn State head coach Robin Petrini said that her offense looked especially comfortable this weekend compared to most so far this year. She said they looked more like "sluggers" as the team put a total of five long-balls over the outfield wall on the weekend.
The Nittany Lions improved their record to 11-22 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten, and Petrini said that the weekend of wins makes a statement for her team in more ways than one.
"It just gives them a little extra confidence and it really keeps them believing," said Petrini. "We have more of the season to play and we have more to work on so we'll keep with that plan and see what we can make of it every game."
Finishing up the Big Ten series at Nittany Lion Softball Park, Penn State has played five consecutive games at home and will continue to do so in the next five contests on its schedule. Next up, the Nittany Lions will play host to the Temple Owls in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.