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Efficient Nittany Lions Earn 1-0 Wins vs. UMass & Miami

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March 4, 2011

Penn State 1, Massachusetts 0 | Penn State 1, Miami 0 | Photo Gallery 

WOODSTOCK, Ga. - Two shutouts, two home runs. That was all Penn State softball needed to defeat Massachusetts and Miami (Ohio) in matching 1-0 victories on Friday at the Buzz Classic. Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) and Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) each fired complete-game shutouts, while Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Kasie Hatfield (Lutz, Fla.) belted homers for the final scoring difference.

In a pitcher's duel between Hill and 2010 All-American Sara Plourde, the Nittany Lions used one great hit from Bell for the 1-0 win at frigid and windy Twin Creeks Softball Complex. Bell smacked a third-inning solo home run her second-career shot for PSU's win.

Penn State used patience at the plate to earn its scoring opportunities as Bell garnered a full-count walk in the first before advancing to second on a stolen base. While PSU wouldn't score her, Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) began the bottom of the second inning would start the same way. After a Lauren Rossi (Yardley, Pa.) sacrifice, Yao advanced to third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) walked and stole second, but Plourde wiggled her way out of the jam with a strikeout.

UMass (2-9), on the other hand, garnered two base runners by way of a double and a walk in the first inning, but a key lineout double play to Hill ended the threat. Hill would allow a lead-off single in the second, but her control in the circle was superb early totaling three strikeouts in the first three frames.

The Nittany Lions would get on the board in the bottom of the third when Cassidy Bell crushed a pitch over the centerfield wall for a 1-0 lead. Unlike last week at the Carolina Classic where Bell was ruled out after a home run for not touching home plate she emphatically stomped on the dish for Penn State's lead.

Massachusetts would try to fight back in the top of the fourth with a one-out infield single by Tiffany Meeks and a subsequent double by Meghan Carta put runners at second and third. Hill induced a popup to second from Audrey Boutin got Katie Bettencourt, the reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, to swing at strike three.

From there on out, Hill cruised allowing a two-out walk in the fifth and a lead-off walk in the sixth as the only blemishes on her record for the rest of the game. Hill notched her second shutout of the year allowing just four hits and three walks on the day with seven strikeouts. Furthermore, Hill lowered her season earned run average to 1.50 while improving to 3-3 on the season.

Two weeks ago, Plourde (2-7) got the better of Penn State posting a 15-strikeout, one-hit shutout gem at the FAU Kick-Off Classic. Today, Plourde went six full with one hit, one earned run and five walks against while striking out 10.

With the win, Penn State upped its all-time mark against UMass to 11-16 and winning the first game in the series since Apr. 8, 1991 in University Park, Pa., a streak that had grown to five in a row in favor of the Minutewomen.

In the second game of the day, Penn State took on the Redhawks of Miami (7-4). Miami threw its ace Jessica Simpson (6-3), the two-time MAC Pitcher of the Week, as she engaged Akamine in yet another pitcher's duel. Akamine was up to the task as she went the distance allowing four hits and four walks against, while fanning five batters.

Penn State (6-5) notched its second-highest output of hits on the year with nine in the game, but the Nittany Lions stranded nine on base. PSU left it up to the freshman Hatfield to hit a sixth-inning bomb over the left-field wall for the eventual game-winning home run. Earlier in the game, Hatfield earned her first collegiate base hit, a shot down the third-base line that was snagged by Miami's Daniele Torres, but Torres couldn't throw Hatfield out.

Hatfield wasn't the only one who had success at the plate as seven Nittany Lions tallied base hits. Danee Collett (Rogersville, Tenn.) joined Hatfield as the only other PSU member to register multiple hits as Collett had a pair of singles in the game.

Penn State put the pressure on Simpson early as Bell singled to lead the game off, but eventually she would be thrown out at second trying to steal to end the threat. PSU tried to piece together another rally in the second after Hatfield's infield single and Collett's base knock put runners at first and second. Unfortunately for the Lions, both runners would be stranded.

The hitting continued in the third with Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) singling after a Bell lead-off walk, again both would be left on base. In the fifth, PSU's charge was led by Ostman's single and then a fielding error put her on second with Bell at first. Ultimately, a foul out and a ground out ended the half-inning, setting the stage for Hatfield's homer.

In the circle, Akamine scattered her damage to maintain her second shutout of the season. The best chance for Miami to score came in the sixth when with two outs a quirky single over Akamine's head by Kayla Ledbetter started a rally. Subsequent walks to the next two Redhawk hitters loaded the bases before Akamine notched her fifth strikeout of the day when she got Kirstie Fehrenbach looking.

Akamine has been exceptionally strong since her initial 2011 outing where she gave up three earned runs in three innings against Massachusetts on Feb. 18. Since that time she has been lights out with a 3-2 record in seven appearances. She has tallied 30.1 innings while not allowing a single earned run during that span. Her current overall earned run average is a miniscule 0.63 even with that UMass game taken into account.

Penn State notched back-to-back wins for the second straight weekend after opening the Carolina Classic with consecutive victories (1-0 vs. FIU, 6-0 vs. Georgetown). The Nittany Lions improved to 6-0 when they score a run, while registering the team's fifth shutout of the year equaling the PSU's 2010 total.

The matchup between Miami and Penn State pitted former PSU assistant coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly, now Miami's head coach, against the Nittany Lions. It was Schoenly's second time facing her former side and it was the second time she fell to Penn State. Previously the two teams met in Oxford, Ohio, a 13-4 PSU triumph. Today's win leveled the all-time record to 2-2.

The Nittany Lions are scheduled to play Georgia Tech (4:00 p.m. and Jacksonville State (6:00 p.m.) tomorrow at the Twin Creeks facility. Rain is in the forecast and a tentative makeup schedule is set for Sunday if all the games get washed out on Saturday. If that happens, PSU will play Rhode Island (1:30 p.m.) and Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m.) on Sunday. Check for up-to-date information on the status of games at the Buzz Classic.





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