March 1, 2013
Notes: Games 10-13
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State aims to improve its record at the Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla., this weekend. The Nittany Lions (3-4, 0-0 Big Ten) meet Hofstra (3-7, 0-0 Colonial), No. 11 LSU (14-2, 0-0 SEC), No. 5/9 Texas A&M (17-0, 0-0 Big 12) and Longwood (7-1, 0-0 Big South) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla.The Blue and White's Saturday schedule features Hofstra (10 a.m.) and LSU (12:15 p.m.) while the team meets Texas A&M (9 a.m.) and Longwood (1:30 p.m.) Sunday.
ON THE HORIZON
Penn State kicks off the March slate at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., March 2-3 before moving across the state to the Under Armour Showcase in Tampa, Fla., from March 8-10. The team will play 11 games over that nine-day span in the Sunshine State, including midweek contests against Central Michigan and Loyola (Chicago).
THE PRIDE OF HOFSTRA
Hofstra has put together a 3-7 (0-0 Colonial) start to the season while playing five contests against ranked opponents. The Pride enter the weekend on a four-game losing streak but look to get back on track with Friday games against Mississippi State and Texas before taking on Penn State Saturday morning. Longtime head coach Bill Edwards, now in his 24th season, leads Hofstra once again in 2013 after reaching the NCAA Super Regionals a season ago.
The Pride features a pair of hitters averaging .360 or better. Junior Tori Rocha leads the team with a .375 (9-24) average while notching a pair of doubles and three RBI. Freshman Maggie Hawkins follows at .360 from the plate and is credited with four RBI this year. Senior Tessa Ziemba has presented the team's power hitting threat early in the season, notching four home runs and eight RBI through the first 10 games. Senior Olivia Galati (3-6) has started nine contests in the circle in 2013 and has thrown 54.1 of Hofstra's 64.1 innings, including eight complete games. The three-time Colonial Pitcher of the Year carries a 3.35 ERA and is holding batters to a .267 batting average.
PREVIEWING THE TIGERS
Louisiana State, ranked 11th in both the NFCA and ESPN polls, enters the weekend at 14-2 with ranked wins over No. 22 North Carolina and No. 14 Arizona under second-year head coach Beth Torina. A year ago, the Tigers finished 40-25 while battling their way to the Women's College World Series before dropping out after three games with losses to California and Arizona State.
Redshirt-junior Allison Falcon is tied for the team lead with 11 RBI this season while hitting .360 (18-50) with five doubles and three home runs. Falcon is one of five Tigers with multiple homers this season, joining junior Tammy Wray and rookie Kellsi Kloss with three, while freshmen Bianka Bell and Sandra Simmons have added a pair each. Senior hurler Rachele Fico (9-1) has amassed an outstanding 0.60 ERA through 58.2 innings with eight complete games on the rubber in 2013 while allowing opposing hitters to a devastating .135 average at the plate. Fico, a 2012 NFCA first-team All-America selection, has struck out 75 batters compared to just 15 walks this year. Junior Meghan Patterson (3-1) has tossed 31.1 innings with a 1.79 ERA in five starts in 2013.
b>AGGIES AT A GLIMPSE
No. 5/9 Texas A&M looks to keep its flawless record intact at the Citrus Classic. The Aggies have outscored opponents 122-25 in 2013, aided by the team's nine shutouts. Last season, head coach Jo Evans, now in her 17th year with the squad, led the team to the Baton Rouge Regional, but could not advance with its 2-2 record.
Junior Nicole Morgan paces the Aggies with 24 RBI behind seven home runs, but is followed closely by freshman Cali Lanphear and senior Meagan May with 19 and 17, respectively. Lanphear is one of three batters on the team with an average of .400 or better, joining sophomore Brittany Clopton (.429) and junior Emily Albus (.439).
Senior pitcher Mel Dumezich has been nearly perfect in the circle for Texas A&M through the first 18 games, allowing just four earned runs over 69.0 innings (0.41 ERA) on the way to a 12-0 record. Dumezich was named USA Softball National Player of the Week Feb. 26 after throwing two no-hitters against Stephen F. Austin and Southeastern Louisiana. Offensively, the Whiting, Ind., native has compiled a .313 average at the plate (15-48) with three homers and 14 RBI.
SCOUTING THE LANCERS
Longwood has won seven of its first eight tilts while hosting a pair of tournaments to open the season. Under the direction of skipper Kathy Riley, the Lancers have completed 15-consecutive 20-win seasons after finished 2012 at 29-26.
The quartet of sophomores Katie Shinrock, Megan Baltzell and Kori Nishitomi and senior Brooke Short has started each game in 2013 while batting .400 or better. Shinrock (.478) leads the group while adding four RBI with a home run and a triple. Baltzell (.474) paces the team with 12 RBI and five homers. Short, one of just three seniors on the team, has yet to allow an earned run this season through 28.2 innings of work in the circle, posting a 5-0 ledger with four shutouts in six appearances. At the plate, Short is hitting .444 with five RBI, three doubles and a triple.
A HISTORY LESSON
Penn State is a combined 9-18-1 against its weekend opponents. The team is 2-3 against both Hofstra and LSU while trailing Texas A&M, 3-10-1, and holding a 2-2 record against Longwood. The Nittany Lions split a pair of decisions with LSU a season ago at the Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La., and have won two of the last three against the Tigers. Penn State has also won two of the last three against Hofstra, although the teams have not met since 2006. After taking the first two meetings with the Lancers in 2006, the Lions dropped the last two in 2011.
With six players owning hitting streaks of four games or more, the Blue and White have enjoyed offensive consistency early in the 2013 campaign. Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) have both hit safely in each of the team's first seven games, while Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) have five-game streaks. Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) and Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) are both amidst four-game hitting streaks, as well. Combined with Bell's 11-contest streak to end the 2012 season, the senior has collected a hit in 18-consecutive games.
The Nittany Lions have been swinging for the fences in 2013, averaging over a home run per game with nine homers in seven contests, led by Bell's five blasts. The senior outfielder notched a pair against Iowa State while classmate Johnson added one against North Carolina at the Carolina Classic Feb. 24.
Taking advantage of the thin air at nearly 4,000 feet above sea level in Las Cruces, N.M., Penn State sent six hits over the fence at the Troy Cox Classic Feb. 15-17. While Bell accounted for three of the home runs, freshmen Jones and Habitz added two and one, respectively.
In addition, 21 of the team's 60 hits have accounted for multiple bases, including 11 doubles. Junior outfielder Sovereign leads the team with three doubles while Bell, Habitz, Johnson and Jones add two apiece.
BREAKING THE ICE
Seven of Penn State's eight freshmen logged their first time on the diamond over the team's opening weekend in New Mexico, including starts in the field for Taylor Abeyta (San Diego, Calif.), Reina Furuya (Waipahu, Hawaii), Habitz, Jones, Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) and Christy Von Pusch (Bryn Mawr, Pa.). Maegan Tupinio (Wahiawa, Hawaii) entered three games to pinch run.
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!
Twelve of Penn State's 2013 opponents are listed in the Feb. 26 ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25, including top-ranked Oklahoma. Other opponents include Texas A&M (No. 5), Texas (No.8), LSU (No. 11), Michigan (No. 14), Washington (No. 18), Arizona (No. 21) and Nebraska (No. 25), while Northwestern, North Carolina, Ohio State and Iowa are receiving votes. Nine of the teams are also included in the USA Today/NFCA Poll.
Multiple Nittany Lions will have opportunities to leave their names in the program career record book when the season is finished. Bell is currently fifth in batting average (.342), seventh in doubles (30), fourth in home runs (22), ninth in total bases (268) and runs (94), 11th in walks (58) and RBI (83), while approaching the charts in at-bats, hits, and stolen bases. Johnson ranks sixth all-time in walks (76) and is within striking distance of at-bats, hits, home runs, total bases and RBI.
WHAT AN HONOR
Bell earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors after a standout weekend at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M., the conference office announced Monday afternoon. The award is the second of her career and first for a Penn State player since Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) picked it up April 16, 2012.
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.
CAPTAIN BY COMMITTEE
With an abundance of leadership on the 2013 team, each senior on the Nittany Lion squad will captain a different aspect of the program this season. Bell is the gameday captain, while Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.) and Renwick lead practice and travel duties, respectively. Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Rachel Myers (Millheim, Pa.) serve as dugout leaders and Johnson is the team's off-field captain.
Bell earned a spot on the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch list, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced Feb. 1. She is the first Nittany Lion to make the preseason Top 50 list.
In addition, Bell and Hatfield were named to the preseason All-Big Ten first-team list by College Sports Madness.
The Nittany Lions play their first 28 games on the road before finally opening play at Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park for a series against Michigan from March 29-31. The squad then hosts Saint Francis (PA), Purdue, Northwestern, Kent State and Nebraska for a 14-game home slate.
FUTURE OF THE NITTANY LIONS
Four student-athletes will join the Penn State softball program as freshmen in the 2013-14 academic year, head coach Robin Petrini announced Dec. 17. The recruiting class hails from around the country with Kristina Brackpool (Santa Clarita, Calif.) and Samantha Shanahan (Seattle, Wash.) hailing from the West, Shelby Miller (Fort Bend, Texas) traveling from the South and Mary Ward (Greencastle, Pa.) the lone Pennsylvania native.