Softball Opens Spring Break at Buzz Classic Friday
March 3, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion softball team begins its Spring Break trip with its participation at the Buzz Classic hosted by Georgia Tech. Penn State (4-5) faces UMass and Miami on Friday (11 a.m.) at Twin Creeks Park.
Buzz Classic (Twin Creeks Park; Woodstock, Ga.)
Ticket Information for Buzz Classic
SCOUTING THE MINUTEWOMEN: UMass (2-8) faced a tough slate of games at the Cathedral City Classic, going 0-5 on the weekend. Fireballer Sara Plourde will try to duplicate her one-hit performance against the Nittany Lions on Feb. 18 where she struck out 15. She sports a 2-6 record with a 2.62 ERA and 78 Ks. Freshman Lindsey Webster has helped Plourde with a 2.42 ERA and an 0-2 record in 17.1 innings pitched. Kyllie Magill is the team's leader at the plate with 10 hits and a .323 average and a team-high six runs scored. No one else on the Minutewomen has an average over .250 this season.
SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS: Miami (7-3) is coming off an impressive week where the Redhawks won the Louisville Red & Black Tournament with a 4-1 record. Jessica Simpson serves as the team's ace with a 6-2 record, 1.71 ERA in 49 innings pitched and 57 strikeouts. Simpson won MAC Pitcher of the Week honors twice already this year. The Redhawks are hitting .271 as a team led by Kayla Ledbetter (.556) who has 15 hits in 10 games with five doubles and a homer as the current MAC Player of the Week. On the basepaths, Miami has been agressive with 18 stolen bases in 22 attempts on the young season led by Jordan McElroy (5-of-7 SBs) who is second on the team with 10 hits.
SCOUTING THE YELLOW JACKETS: Georgia Tech (9-4) is on a two-game winning streak since falling out of the polls. Previously, the Yellow Jackets had lost four of five games including a 9-1 run-rule loss to FIU, a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh, 4-3 loss to FIU and a 4-1 loss to Kennesaw State. This week, GT beat Georgia Tech beat Georgia State, 3-0, and Niagara, 12-3. The Jackets' high-powered offense features eight .300-plus hitters on the team led by Christy Jones (.395, 16 H) and Alysha Rudnik (.390, 16 H, 4 2B, 2 HR). The power-hitter in the line up is Kristine Priebe who has smashed five homers for 14 RBI along with three doubles and two triples. In the circle, Kristen Adkins has been the star with a 4-2 record and a 0.94 ERA and 43 strikeouts. Hope Rush is GT's No. 2 with a 3-2 record and a 1.77 ERA in five starts.
SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS: Jacksonville State (7-4) rolled past Kennesaw State Wednesday night, 11-1, in five-innings for its third consecutive victory. The Gamecocks are led by Abbey Stepp at the plate who leads the team in average (.370), runs (9), hits (10), homers (4), RBI (11), slugging (.926) and on-base percentage (.429). In the circle, Tiffany Harbin has gotten the call the most, pitching 38.2 innings with a 4-2 record in seven total appearances and a 2.90 ERA. Her teammate, Savanna Hennings, is 1-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 14.2 innings of work and two starts this season.
SCOUTING THE RAMS: Rhode Island (0-10) has had difficulty putting a complete game together this season droppings its first 10 games of the young season. Pacing the offense is Erika Szymanski with her .278 average with two doubles and three RBI followed by Nicole Massoni who is batting .227 with five hits, two homers and five RBI. In the circle, the Alison Hartzell has started five of the team's 10 games this year going 35.1 innings so far. She is 0-5 on the year with a 6.34 ERA with two complete games.
REST OF SPRING BREAK SCOUTS: Penn State will face six other opponents during its time down south. The Nittany Lions will play at Kennesaw State (Tuesday, 2 p.m.) before traveling to Auburn on Wednesday for games against Florida State (2 p.m. ET) and Auburn (5 p.m. ET). PSU concludes its time with the SpringHill Suites Classic at Georgia Tech for games against Bowling Green, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Belmont. Previews will be available on GoPSUsports.com on Monday and Thursday for those series.
FAU KICK-OFF CLASSIC RECAP: The Nittany Lions went 2-3 in an up-and-down weekend at Florida Atlantic (Feb. 18-20). Penn State opened the weekend with a 3-1 win over Tulsa on Friday before falling 10-0 to Massachusetts. PSU wrapped up the weekend with a 1-0 loss to Long Island, a 2-1 win over host FAU and a 3-0 loss to Tulsa. The mixed performances saw solid pitching out of Jackie Hill and Lisa Akamine who combined for a 1.69 earned run average in 29 innings of work with 23 strikeouts. The duo held teams to a .228 batting average as well keeping the Nittany Lions in each of their games. At the plate, Desi Giordano stood out with a .333 batting average and a .600 on-base percentage with three hits, two runs and a homer vs. Tulsa. Danee Collett (.308) was the only other Lion to tally an average over .300 going 4-for-13 with a double. Cassidy Bell had the best one-game performance of all the PSU bats with a 3-for-4 showing vs. FAU notching a double and both the team's RBI.
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU: Senior co-captain Desi Giordano climbed up the record books on Feb. 18 with a long bomb to left field, her first of the season and 20th in her career. The homer moved Giordano into a tie for fourth all-time at Penn State with Jen Acunto (2005-08). Giordano is just three off from matching Jennifer Tripken (1999-2002) and five from Ashley Esparza (2005-08) from third and second, respectively. PSU's all-time home run leader is Shannon Salsburg who belted 34 from 1995-98.
BIG LIFE. BIG STATE. BIG TEN NETWORK: Four Penn State softball games will be televised live by the Big Ten Network in 2011. PSU's doubleheader will be the live TV debut of Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field when Penn State plays host to Michigan on Apr. 20. The doubleheader starts at 5:30 p.m. against the defending Big Ten champs. A third home contest will be aired May 1 against Purdue at Noon while a lone away game, vs. Iowa, will be shown May 8 at 2:00 p.m. All game times are Eastern. In addition to the live schedule, the Nittany Lions will be apart of several BigTenNetwork.com streaming productions which are run through the Big Ten Network's Student U initiative. Many of those games are shown on the Network the following day in a tape delay fashion after their live stream.
RETURNING TO THE FOLD: Penn State's 2011 squad remains relatively intact from last year's team due to graduate of just one everyday starter in Ashley Griffith. All told, Penn State has 15 letterwinners from a year ago returning including the top three Nittany Lions in batting average (Cassidy Bell, Danee Collett, Lauren Rossi) and hits (Bell, Collett, Kailyn Johnson) as well as the top two pitchers in Jackie Hill and Lisa Akamine.
NEW ADDITIONS: Penn State figures to improve with newcomers Alyssa Sovereign, Kasie Hatfield, Liz Presto, Jordan Wheatley and Jenn Edsall. Sovereign looks to fill the vacant spot in the outfield left by Griffith, while Hatfield and Presto have shown powerful hitting at the plate. Wheatley and Edsall are expected to back up and give depth in the pitching circle.
DIFFICULT 2011 SCHEDULE: The Nittany Lions will once again face some of the best teams in the country. By the numbers, the 2011 non-conference schedule will be one of the toughest in the country as 22 of Penn State's 26 non-Big Ten opponents participated in postseason action in 2010. Additionally, 10 of the first 12 scheduled opponents sported a winning record last year totaling eight NCAA Tournament appearances. Penn State will play at least 21 games this year against teams that won 30 or more games last season with 10 who won at least 40.
ALL-BIG TEN RETURNEE: Junior pitcher Lisa Akamine returns to the Nittany Lions as the lone All-Big Ten honoree having claimed third-team honors in 2009 and 2010. Fellow pitcher Jackie Hill is Penn State's only NFCA All-Great Lakes mention after her second-team performance in 2008.
FALL BALL REDUX: Penn State played six games this offseason going 4-2. PSU's hitting was superb knocking home 29 runs altogether. The Nittany Lions defeated Lock Haven (8-3), Virginia Tech (4-0) and Liberty (3-2 and 7-2), while falling to Bucknell (7-6) and Virginia Tech (11-1).
PSULIONSOFTBALL ON TWITTER: Nittany Lion softball is now on Twitter. Keep up to date with inside information and exclusive access @PSULionSoftball.
NEXT SERIES: The Nittany Lions will cap its non-conference tournament schedule with a trip out west to the prestigous Judi Garman Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton. PSU takes on national powers Oklahoma, Arizona State, Fresno State before tackling Pacific and Boise State. Penn State then returns home to open its new stadium, Nittany Lion Softball Park on March 24 v. Buffalo and Wisconsin (Mar. 26-27).