Penn State Heads South for Carolina Classic
Feb. 21, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State softball continues the 2013 season with a trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., this weekend for North Carolina's Carolina Classic. The two-day tournament includes squads from George Washington (1-5, 0-0 A10), North Dakota State (4-6, 0-0 Summit), Iowa State (6-3, 0-0 Big 12) and the hosting Tar Heels (7-5, 0-0 ACC). The Nittany Lions' (2-3, 0-0 Big Ten) first game against the Colonials is scheduled for noon Saturday.
The full schedule and tournament information is available at North Carolina's Tournament Central page here.
ON THE HORIZON
A LOOK AT THE COLONIALS
In the circle, first-year pitcher Meghan Rico owns a 3.23 ERA through 17.1 innings and a 1-3 record while holding opposing teams to an astounding .167 batting average. Junior Courtney Martin has thrown significant amounts as well, going 13.0 with a matching 3.23 ERA with an 11-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Colonials finished 25-30 a season ago, including an 11-9 stint in Atlantic 10 play.
PREVIEWING THE BISON
Sophomore outfielder Presley Glaser leads the team with a .313 average at the plate, while adding a trio of stolen bases. Rookies Cheyenne Garcia and Maritza Lopez-Portillo have both contributed a team-high five RBI this season. Senior Whitney Johnson heads up the pitching staff, opening 2013 with a 3-2 record in five starts. The Lake Crystal, Minn., native has tossed to a tune of a 1.15 ERA through 36.2 innings, allowing just a .181 opponent batting average. Second-year pitcher Krista Menke accounts for the team's remaining five starts and owns a 1-4 record with a 5.73 ERA.
The Bison reached the NCAA Regional in Tuscon, Ariz., in 2012 after taking the Summit League crown with an 18-6 record and a 38-22 overall ledger. The squad has qualified for NCAA action each of the last four campaigns under 12th-year skipper Darren Mueller. North Dakota State is the second Summit opponent Penn State will face this season after meeting Missouri-Kansas City at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M., Feb. 17.
CYCLONES AT A GLIMPSE
The squad has not lacked offense over its first nine games, producing a .348 cumulative batting average. The trio of senior Erica Miller (11), sophomore Jorden Spendlove (11) and junior Sara Davison (10) has combined to tally 32 of the team's 58 RBI and 14 of 22 of ISU's multi-base hits. In the circle, fourth-year pitcher Tori Torrescano has built a 4-1 record with a 2.67 ERA after spinning four complete games in five starts. Junior Taylor Smith has been a solid second option from the rubber, allowing just five earned runs over 14.1 innings (2.44 ERA).
The Cyclones finished 14-39 in 2012 after a tough 2-22 finish in the Big 12.
SCOUTING THE TAR HEELS
Senior Tisha Mahon has been on a tear at the plate, batting .500 with 10 singles in 20 at-bats this season. Classmate Haleigh Dickey paces the squad with seven RBI and 12 hits, including a pair of doubles and a triple. Fourth-year first baseman Constance Orr presents a long-ball threat with two home runs this year. Junior Lori Spingola (4-3) has been consistent for North Carolina, throwing 47.0 of the team's 77.0 innings with six complete games. Her 1.49 ERA leads the team, along with her 51 strikeouts, compared to just 11 walks.
North Carolina is led by 28th-year head coach Donna J. Papa, who was inducted into the National Fastpitch Hall of Fame Nov. 30, 2012 after passing the 1,000-win threshold during the 2011 season. The 2012 Tar Heels reached the NCAA Regional in Athens, Ga., after a 13-4 finish in the ACC and a 43-15 tally overall.
Penn State enters the weekend with a combined 13-12 record against its tournament opponents. The Nittany Lions have faced the Colonials and Bison just once, taking both contests in 2009 and 2006, respectively. The Blue and White hold a 2-4 ledger against Iowa State, but the squads have not met since 1997.
The Nittany Lions have met North Carolina on the diamond 17 times and have edged out a 9-8 record, although the Tar Heels have taken the last three meetings. Penn State's last win came in 2007 in an 11-7 triumph at the Carolina Classic.
The team is 10-10 in five appearances at the Carolina Classic since 2005, highlighted by a 3-1 effort in 2007 with wins over North Carolina State, East Carolina and North Carolina.
WHAT AN HONOR
Bell continued her offensive excellence from the 2012 season during Penn State's opening weekend in Las Cruces, N.M., Feb. 15-17. The senior center fielder pushed her current hitting streak to 16 contests by recording at least one hit in all five games at the tournament, including three multi-hit efforts. Bell hit .600 (9-15) from the plate and slugged 1.333 with a trio of home runs to finish the weekend with nine RBI while adding four stolen bases and five runs of her own on the base paths.
The Penn State batters produced seven multi-base hits other than homers, as well. Bell and Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) recorded two doubles apiece, while Jones and Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) put up one double each. Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) beat out a throw from right field to post the team's only triple of the weekend.
BREAKING THE ICE
Jones singled against Colorado State in the first game of the season, while Furuya and Habitz hit safely in the second game of the day against New Mexico State. Habitz and Jones launched the first home run of their careers against Texas Tech Feb. 16. Von Pusch earned her first start in the circle against Texas Tech while Jones began contests on the rubber against New Mexico State twice and UMKC.
QUITE THE SLATE!
CAPTAIN BY COMMITTEE
In addition, Bell and Hatfield were named to the preseason All-Big Ten first-team list by College Sports Madness.