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Nittany Lions Look to Continue Momentum at Maryland

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By Jack Dougherty, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a confidence-boosting doubleheader sweep of Ohio State, the Penn State softball team (23-20, 6-8) will travel to College Park, Md. for a three-game weekend series against the new kids on the block, the Maryland Terrapins.

The first pitch of the weekend will be thrown at 6 p.m. on Friday night, then the new conference foes will face off at 1 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday morning. The series finale on Sunday will be broadcasted live on the Big Ten Network.

Penn State enters the series riding some momentum, as the pair of wins on Wednesday night vaulted it from 12th to seventh place in the B1G. Adversely, Maryland has dropped three straight and six of their last eight, downgrading it to a three-way tie for the ninth position.

In their first season in the B1G, the Terps boast a 23-19 record with a 5-7 mark in the conference. After an abysmal 11-win season in the ACC in 2014, the Terps rebounded well and has exceeded expectations this season.

Leading the charge for the Terrapins at the dish are outfielders Erin Pronobis and Hannah Dewey. Pronobis ranks fifth in the conference with 11 long balls. She leads the team with 40 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .715. Dewey tops Maryland with a .388 batting average and a .556 on-base percentage. She also sees her fair share of time in the circle. The versatile sophomore has gone 4-8 this season in 24 appearances.

The clear number one for the Terps on the hill is senior Kaitlyn Schmeiser. In the team's 42 contests this year, Schmeiser has thrown a pitch in 37 of them. She totals 158.1 innings on the mound, and has worked her way to a 17-7 record. Her 3.31 ERA ranks seventh in the B1G.

The Nittany Lions will seek to counter Schmeiser with a bevy of offensive studs, highlighted by Lexi Knief. The junior has risen her batting average to an impressive .414 on the year while smacking 55 hits, fifth most in the conference. Macy Jones has also had a fantastic season as she sports a .461 OBP and a .630 slugging percentage. The junior has also cracked eighth homers and 30 RBIs.

A defining key to the series for Penn State will be limiting walks. Maryland has a patient lineup that has worked the second most free passes in the B1G this year, so the PSU pitching staff will have to pound the zone and force U of M to beat them with its sticks. The Nittany Lions have surrendered 159 bases on balls this year.

Another X-factor for the Blue and White will be Mollie Sorenson. The freshman has slowly moved up to the two-hole and has been incredibly efficient since B1G play began. Sorenson is batting .297 on the year, but she's hitting .417 in conference games with 20 base knocks and 12 runs scored. She will need to stay hot in the B1G to give the offense a boost this weekend.

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