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Lions Tested By the Best in First Conference Weekend

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sunny, blue skies replaced the cloudy ones that had loomed over University Park all week long, giving the Penn State softball team the perfect weather for its first weekend of conference play.

8787064.jpegThe Lions welcomed No. 14 Michigan to Beard Field to open up their Big Ten season in a three-game series, with one contest on Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday. But against the highest-ranked team in the conference, Penn State knew that it wasn't going to be an easy ride.

"Playing the best team in the conference is a good practice for playing other teams," said freshman Macy Jones, who threw two full games for the Lions over the weekend. "We knew what was coming as a team. It was exciting though."

The Wolverines swept the weekend, winning by scores of 7-4, 18-4 and 9-6 over the Nittany Lions. But the Penn State squad wasn't hanging its head when the series was over.

Nittany Lion head coach Robin Petrini said that she was more than satisfied with a list of things that she saw from her group against the toughest Big Ten team out there.

"Our team has a lot of character," said Petrini. "They're fighting hard and we know that our pitchers are struggling and Michigan's [pitchers'] ERAs are 1.4 and 1.5 and we scored four, three and six runs - so the offense is getting it done and if we could just start getting it done on the mound, we'll be in business."

In fact, the Lions became only the fourth of 29 teams that the Wolverines have played that have been able to score six or more runs against them in seven innings of play. And the game when Penn State scored that weekend-high six runs came right after Michigan run-ruled them 18-4.

Petrini said that the message between contests on Saturday was simple. 'Nobody died.' There was more softball to be played.

"In the record book it goes down as an 'L'," said Petrini. "So I thought so what, let's go back out there and compete. I'm so proud of how they came out and competed in that second game. My team came out and fought like dogs against them. If we had been able to shut them down in one inning, we would have won that game."

And the Lions will look to focus on all of that positive fight from the weekend to continue its surge in the coming days. Penn State next travels to Michigan State and will face the Spartans in a re-scheduled doubleheader Tuesday afternoon.

Jones, the lefty pitcher, spent 14 innings on the mound against the Wolverines and played another five in the field for the Lions. The freshman said that while her entire pitching staff will be bearing down for the short turnaround, she's happy with the way her team battled.

"Playing like that, it shows how much fight we have and how much we love the game so coming back helped a lot," said Jones. "I think we need all of our pitchers throwing strikes and staying focused and playing one at a time."

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