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May 12, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ohio State spoiled Penn State's senior day, winning the season finale 4-1 at sun-splashed Beard Field on Saturday. Junior Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) finished the season with a .423 average to become Penn State's new single-season batting champion, breaking Nan Sichler's 24-year-old record of .413. Senior Danee Collett (Rogersville, Tenn.) gathered an RBI double in Penn State's rallying effort but it wasn't enough.
Bell had a career year going 41-for-97 with a team-high 23 runs, nine home runs and 76 total bases. She led the Big Ten in conference games with 58 total bases as well. Despite missing 18 games this season she tied for the team lead in RBI as well with 20 while slugging .784, earning 18 walks and a .529 on-base percentage. She also was impressive on the base paths stealing five of six bases.
Ohio State (31-21, 10-13 Big Ten) needed just one big swing in the third inning to alter the proceedings as Evelyn Carillo belted an opposite field grand slam to left-centerfield with two outs, a blow from which Penn State (18-32, 9-15 Big Ten) would never recover.
The Lions put pressure on OSU starter Melanie Nichols (12-9), leaving two runners on in the bottom of the fourth before Collett smashed a double up the middle to score pinch-runner Rachel Myers (Millheim, Pa.) from first base. Myers replaced senior Ellen McNair (Niceville, Fla.) who came in to pinch-hit as the flex player for senior Ashley Todd (Mill Creek, Wash.). Bell would walk and a fielder's choice with one out cut down Collett at the plate before a foul fly ended the inning.
The Lions threatened in the seventh much like they did Friday night to win game two, loading the bases with two outs. In that span Bell singled in her fourth plate appearance of the game to secure the batting title. Nichols induced a pop up to the catcher to end the game and earn the victory for Ohio State.
In the circle for Penn State was senior Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.), who went all seven inning for her 53rd career complete game to earn fourth place on the all-time PSU charts. She gave up six hits, four runs and five walks and she struck out five batters. She ends her career at Penn State in third place for strikeouts (595), fourth place for innings pitched (617.2), fourth in appearances (121) and fifth in starts (86) and sixth place for wins (43). For the season Akamine struck out 184, a career high, which places eighth best in a single-season at PSU.
For Bell she upped her career record at PSU to .331, which ranks 10th best at Penn State. She also has 56 walks in her three years, which is 11th. Ahead of her is fellow junior Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) who is sixth on the PSU chart with 75 free passes. Bell's nine home runs is tied for fifth in a single season with Shannon Salsburg (1996) and she is sixth all-time in career homers with 17.
The junior lefty out of California ended the season on an 11-game hitting streak with 11 multi-hit games (all since Mar. 23) and reached base in 26 of the last 27 games to end the season. Bell went 6-for-11 against Ohio State and she hit .469 in the final 26 games of the year.
Prior to the game, Penn State honored its five graduating seniors as Akamine, Collett, McNair, Todd and Morgan Long (Oro Valley, Ariz.) were greeted by the PSU coaching staff and escorted by their respective family members. Each received a Varsity "S" blanket. Head football coach Bill O'Brien attended his first Penn State softball game by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Penn State will find out later this week if any Nittany Lions are named to the All-Big Ten Conference teams.