Nittany Lion Softball Embarks on 12-Game Spring Break Trip to Florida
March 4, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State (9-4) treks south for a 12-game, two tournament road trip to the Tampa Bay area for the USF Under Armour Invitational and Showcase at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. starting Friday. The Nittany Lions open with five games in the Invitational (Mar. 5-7) against Central Michigan, Florida Gulf Coast, Ball State, Florida International and host South Florida.
Streaming for games will be announced closer to game time. The Penn State-USF game on Sunday will be streamed live by the Bulls. Tentatively, all games schedule for Moore Field #1 will be streamed live through GoUSFBulls.com. This page should refresh after everyday, allowing fans to check in on the Nittany Lions while in Florida for select games. Those games to be streamed live are vs. Stony Brook (3/12, 4 p.m.), Toledo (3/12, 6 p.m.) and Southern Illinois (3/13, 5 p.m.).
at USF Under Armour Invitational & Showcase
Games #14-25: March, 5-14, 2010 Eddie C. Moore Complex Fields #1-9 Clearwater, Fla.
The Nittany Lions head to Clearwater, Fla. for 12 games to play in two tournaments, the USF Under Armour Invitational and Showcase, as well as two mid-week contests
PSU seeks to extend its winning ways after gathering six wins in its last seven tries
Penn State went 3-1 last week at the ECU Pirate Classic, outscoring teams 30-4
Pitchers Lisa Akamine, Jackie Hill and Kimi Wong held teams to .130 hitting with 10 hits, four earned runs (1.27 ERA), three walks and 21 strikeouts at East Carolina
Four Nittany Lion hitters, Lisa Akamine (.571), Cassidy Bell (.538), Danee Collett (.500) and Ashley Griffith (.500) batted .500 or better at the ECU Pirate Classic
Danee Collett leads the team in average (.447), RBI (15) and tied for first with Kailyn Johnson in doubles (5) and home runs (3); Mary Ostman is second in hitting at .400
SERIES HISTORIES: Penn State will run the gamut of opponents, some very familiar and five others for a first time. PSU will face four opponents for at least the 13th time in Central Michigan (21st), Ball State (13th), South Florida (23rd) and Saint Joseph's (20th). Two others, Toledo and Southern Illinois, are teams that Penn State has played just twice and once, respectively. The Lions hold a 11-9 mark over Central Michigan, 19-0 over Saint Joseph's, but trail Ball State (8-4) and South Florida (16-6) in the all-time series. PSU is 2-0 over Toledo and 0-1 vs. SIU.
Friday, March 5, 4:00 p.m. Field #9 Gametracker
Tuesday, March 9, 4:00 p.m. Field TBA Gametracker
SCOUTING THE CHIPPEWAS: Central Michigan enters the USF Invitational with a 1-3 record after falling twice to Nebraska (4-1, 8-0) and Auburn (6-2) to start 2010. CMU downed Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 15-0, to kick the losing skid. Molly Coldren leads the team at the plate with a .583 average, belting three doubles, a homer and five RBI earning her MAC Player of the Week honors Feb. 23. In the circle, Kari Seddon leads the Chippewas with a 2.50 ERA, going 1-2 with 14 innings pitched, striking out 15 so far.
FLORIDA GULF COAST (6-8)
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: FGCU has started the year off with a 6-8 record after winning 47 games a year ago. Seven starters are off that team, but contributors this year inlcude Courtney Platt (.395, 3 HR, 9 RBI) and Lauren Ziegler (.370, 12 R, 11 SB, 4 RBI). The Eagles' offense hasn't been consistent, despite having four players hitting above .260, the team's average is only .239. In the circle, FGCU has two starters in its rotation with Catherine McDaniel (2-5, 2.30 ERA, 35 K) as the team's ace.
BALL STATE (2-3)
SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State captured its last four games of the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. to improve to 6-4 on the season. BSU downed Wright State (10-0), Austin Peay (8-1), Central Connecticut (12-3) and Tennessee-Martin (5-0) in the wins. Amanda Montalto (.423, 11 H, 5 RBI) and former Arizona State player Jessie Ware (.364, 12 H, 12 R, 10 RBI) lead the way offensively, while Elizabeth Milian is the team's ace. Milian is 5-1 in five starts throwing four complete game shutouts in allowing just one earned run all year accompanied by 10 hits in nearly 37 innings.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (11-2)
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS: Florida International has gotten off to a roaring 11-2 start, which included a three-game sweep at Western Kentucky this past weekend. Brie Rojas (.488, 12 RBI), Jes Alfonso (.419, 12 RBI), and Ash McLain (.395, 17 RBI) are the team's hitting leaders and a solid rotation of Jen Gniadek (4-1, 2.28 ERA) and Kas Barrett (6-1, 0.47 ERA, 52 K) patrol the pitching circle.
SCOUTING THE BULLS: The host South Florida Bulls squad is off to a 5-5 mark, but has been setback by some bad luck. The team went to Arizona State last weekend for a three-game set and lost to the then-No. 7 Sun Devils, 8-7, in eight innings. Then an illness struck the team, which cancelled Game Two, while Game Three was washed away by rain, ultimately saddling the Bulls with a three-game losing streak starting its own tournament. USF employs five pitchers to the staff, with three pitching more than 16 innings so far in 2010, led by Kristen Gordon (0-1, 1.75 ERA). At the plate, JoJo Medina and Alison Savarese provide power for the Bulls as both hit .345 and have a combined 16 of the team's 37 RBI this year.
SAINT JOSEPH'S (2-2)
SCOUTING THE HAWKS: Saint Joseph's (2-2) comes into their Spring Break at Clearwater having only played four games this season, beating Delaware and UNC Greensboro, but falling twice at nationally ranked North Carolina. The Hawks are led by sophomore third baseman Monica Aguilar who is hitting .364, best on a team that is batting .210 and has only four extra base hits all year. Also a threat at the plate is Brook Darreff, who was fifth in National batting average in 2008 as a sophomore. The power on the team is in pitchers Erin Gallagher (2-2, 0.76 ERA, 18 K) and freshman Taryn Ashway (0-0, 2.71 ERA).
Friday, March 12, 4:00 p.m. Field #1 Gametracker Streaming Video
SCOUTING THE SEAWOLVES: Stony Brook is 3-2 after a productive tournament two weekends ago in Charlotte, N.C. The SeaWolves took out Toledo (14-0) and Saint Francis (10-8, 9-1), but twice fell to host Charlotte (5-2, 1-0). Prior to the matchup with the Lions, SBU will participate in the N.C. State Wolfpack Challenge against Georgetown, Longwood, N.C. State and Coastal Carolina. The trio of Bernadette Tenuto, Brijette Martin and Jerrica Kang lead the Wolves at the plate, all batting over .400 and combining for 17 of the squad's 37 hits and 12 of 29 RBI. Alyssa Struzenberg is the team's ace in the circle going 2-1 with a 0.44 ERA in three starts, striking out 23 batters in 16 innings pitched.
SCOUTING THE ROCKETS: Coming off an 8-38 2009 season, the Rockets showed signs of improvement at the Charlotte First Pitch Classic, but only came away with one win against four losses. After a season-opening triumph over Saint Francis, Toledo dropped four straight to Charlotte (4-1, 7-4), Stony Brook (14-0) and Saint Francis (6-5). Mica Sanches and Erinn Wright sport .400-plus averages at the plate and account for seven of the team's 18 RBI and 13 of 26 hits. Aside from Hanna Rockhold (0-1, 1.78 ERA), the Rocket staff has struggled pitching wise, allowing 22 earned runs, while the defense's 11 errors in the first weekend led to 12 more unearned runs. Opposing teams hit .315 off the Toledo pitchers in the team's first five games. The Rockets will play 10 games in Florida prior to the matchup against Penn State as part of the USF Invitational and four mid-week games vs. Quinnipiac and Jacksonville.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (2-3)
SCOUTING THE BLUE RAIDERS: Middle Tennessee State began the season 2-3 and by the time the Raiders face Penn State, will have added 10 possible games to their record after a three-game set at Troy and an appearance in the Georgia Invitational. A 14-34 team a year ago, MTSU has received hot starts from Kandra Singleton (.385), Natalie Ysais (.357) and Kaycee Popham (.333). The team has registered just eight RBI in five games, while being outscored 30-14 so far. In the circle, Lindsey Vander Lugt (1-2, 4.00 ERA) is the team's leading pitcher.
SCOUTING THE SALUKIS: Southern Illinois is 10-5 on the young season after putting together a 33-13 campaign a year ago. Haley Gorman is batting .511 with 24 hits, getting on base at .574 and scoring a team-high 18 runs. SIU scored 69 runs in its first 15 games while banging out 102 hits, but allowed opposing teams to hit .257. The Salukis have three starting pitchers in its rotation with Alex Peters (4-1, 3.21 ERA, 36 K) leading the way. The staff has a 4.01 earned run average. SIU will spend the week before its time at the USF Showcase with a four-game tournament at home in Carbondale, Ill. and a game at Stetson.
KENNESAW STATE (7-4)
SCOUTING THE OWLS: Kennesaw State, officially an NCAA Division I team after four years of transition out of Division II, is 7-4 including a 5-0 mark at home. Lyndsay McCurry and Jensen Hackett provide much of the team's offense with a .389 and .370 batting averages respectively. Hackett has supplied six RBI on the young season, while Jessica Cross has four homers and a team-best nine RBI this season. Additionally, Cross has been a force in the circle with a 4-1 record and a 1.24 ERA. Prior to its time in Clearwater, KSU faces Big Ten member Minnesota at home on Mar. 4 before taking part in the Buzz Classic at Georgia Tech (Mar. 5-7) and a double header at Florida Gulf Coast (Mar. 10).
LIONS AT THE PIRATE CLASSIC: Penn State got to a roaring start in the ECU Pirate Classic, defeating Towson (10-1), Delaware (9-1) and Morehead State (11-0) in run-rule fashion. Penn State outscored its first three opponents 30-2 and scored 17 runs in the first frame. Lisa Akamine was the Lions' best all-around player as she hit .571 at the plate and threw 11.1 innings in the circle, allowing three hits and two runs, picking up the win in all three decisions, improving to 4-1. Cassidy Bell had a superb weekend hitting .538 behind 7-for-13 batting with a team-high five RBI and seven runs scored. Danee Collett and Ashley Griffith batted .500 with Collett driving home four and Griffith scoring five times. Over the last three trips to Greenville, N.C., Penn State has racked up a 10-2 record dating back to 2006.
ABOVE AVERAGE HITTING: Penn State hitters in 2010 are hitting .330 through the team's first 13 games. Six batters-Danee Collett, Mary Ostman, Cassidy Bell, Kailyn Johnson, Lisa Akamine and Jackie Hill-are hitting above .300. Last season, the Lions struggled at the plate against a tough schedule, hitting just .246 with only one player, Ashley Griffith (.311) above a .300 average. Seven regular returning hitters have averages better than they did in 2009. The only regular to have a worse batting average, Griffith by .022, is still above her career average of .280. The biggest margin for starters is Collett who is .090 above last season's average of .257, already matching her homer total from a year ago at three.
CAMPBELL/CARTIER WRAP UP: The Nittany Lions headed out west for the second straight week and for the second straight time came back with three wins. Penn State led off with a 5-4 loss to Western Kentucky, unable to overcome a 5-2 deficit. The Nittany Lions quickly rebounded, downing the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos by a 3-1 score thanks to Jackie Hill's performance in the circle. She would throw another pair of one-run performances on Saturday in defeating Utah State (6-1) and host San Diego State (3-1) to run the team's record to 6-3. Penn State capped its weekend in California with a match up against No. 1 Washington on Sunday, a game that would be rained out in the fourth inning as the teams were tied, 0-0. Hill and consensus national player of the year Danielle Lawrie were matching zeros through the first three innings in a pitchers' duel with PSU's Mary Ostman reaching third base in the third inning, but unable to score.
400 THE ALMA MATER WAY: Head coach Robin Petrini achieved a milestone achievement when Penn State beat Utah State, 6-1, on Saturday. Petrini, a 1983 graduate of Utah State, where she won two AIAW National Championships as a shortstop, also picked up win No. 401 against San Diego State later that day. She was greeted by a cookie cake and balloons at the hotel to commemorate the achievement. Already the all-time leading coach in wins at Penn State, Petrini has also led the squad to more NCAA appearances (seven) in her 13 years than the program had before her arrival (two). She'll go for win No. 402 against Towson, the team she beat for her first career win back in 1997.
DEFENSE AND PITCHING: While in San Diego, Penn State saw a return to normalcy in the pitching and defensive departments. The thicker, cooler air helped to keep balls in the park and the natural dirt at the SDSU Complex made for easier grounders. Penn State tossed a 2.00 ERA as a team including Jackie Hill's 1.11 ERA effort, holding opposing batters to a .188 batting average. The squad made just two errors all weekend, the team sporting a .982 fielding percentage and managed to strand 32 opposing base runners. In East Carolina, that trend continued as the Lions committed no errors while pitching to a 1.27 ERA with just 10 hits allowed. Penn State has yet to yield more than two runs in a game in the past eight ballgames since giving up five to Western Kentucky on February 19.
HOT START IN NEW MEXICO: The Nittany Lions got off to a roaring start at the Hotel Encanto Invitational last weekend with a 12-3 run-rule win over UTEP and a thrilling late-night come from behind 9-8 win over Colorado State to open Friday. The two wins on opening day was the first 2-0 start to a season since 1997 for Penn State. The next day, PSU lost a back-and-forth slugfest, 10-9, to host New Mexico State. The following game, PSU got up early on UTSA, and cruised to an 8-4 win. On Sunday, Penn State dropped another back-and-forth game, surrendering a sixth-inning lead to Nebraska in an 11-6 loss. Penn State finished third in the Hotel Encanto Invitational standings, behind NMSU (4-1) and Nebraska (3-2).
HOTEL ENCANTO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Sophomore catcher Danee Colett earned mention on the 2010 Hotel Encanto Invitational All-Tournament Team. Collett hit a team-high .471 for the weekend with eight hits, one homer and a double, while driving in seven RBI. For the weekend she got on base at a clip of .500 and slugged .706 while posting a nearly flawless performance on behind the plate (40 putouts, zero errors, one passed ball).
BOMBS OVER LAS CRUCES: Homers weren't hard to come by in the thin air of Las Cruces (Elevation 4,300 feet), in total, 43 home runs were hit by the six teams in the tournament. Penn State alone hit 10 homers and scored 44 runs. To put that in perspective, the Nittany Lions hit 20 homers all of last year and scored 145 runs, 30 percent of the team's total from a 46-game schedule in 2009. Also, the team "only" hit for seven doubles and a triple. Desi Giordano and Kailyn Johnson led the team with two dingers apiece, while Mary Ostman, Danielle Noll, Jackie Hill, Alyssa Renwick and Johnson smashed their first collegiate homers. Kimi Wong hit her second-career homer vs. Nebraska. As a team, the squad hit .324 at the plate, while reaching safely at a .423 clip and slugging .604.
FIRST TIME MEETINGS: Penn State will see the final five teams for the first time in softball. Florida Gulf Coast (3/5), Florida International (3/6), Kennesaw State (3/14), Middle Tennessee State (3/13), and Stony Brook (3/12) will all be first-time matchups. Last week, PSU downed Morehead State 11-0 (5 inn.) to raise its record to 2-1 against first-time opponents. PSU defeated UTEP 12-3 (5 inn.) to open the season, but dropped a 5-4 decision to Western Kentucky for the previous meetings.
BIG STAGE, BIG TEN NETWORK: The Big Ten Network announced its annual televised softball schedule on Feb. 18 and at least four Penn State games will be broadcast live on television or through the network's website, BigTenNetwork.com. Penn State's games at Michigan (4/21) will be on the BTN's website, while the two matchups at Northwestern (5/1-2). There's a possibility that PSU's games at Indiana (5/14-15) could be picked up as part of the Big Ten Network's wild card weekend.
GRIFFITH HAS CLASS: Senior outfielder Ashley Griffith is one of just 30 NCAA softball student-athletes to be named a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate. The award is "An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in SchoolTM, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award honors the attributes of senior student-athletes in four areas: classroom, community, character and competition." Additionally, Griffith is one of just five Big Ten softball student-athletes to be a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate.
ALL-BIG TEN RETURNERS: The Nittany Lions return two 2009 All-Big Ten performers, Ashley Griffith (Second Team) and Lisa Akamine (Third Team) to the fold. In addition to those two, Penn State also sees Jackie Hill, a 2008 All-Region selection, as its leading pitcher.
TEAM COMPOSITION: All told, Penn State has 11 Lions back on the squad from 2009, while welcoming in seven newcomers. Five starters will return to their normal positions in Ashley Griffith (LF), Desi Giordano (3B), Jackie Hill (P/1B/DP), Lisa Akamine (P/DP), and Danee Collett (C). So far this season, Cassidy Bell (CF), Alyssa Renwick (SS) and Kailyn Johnson (1B/DP) have filled in at their spots everyday, while second base (Lauren Yao/Morgan Long) and right field (Mary Ostman/Danielle Noll) are being platooned for now.
FALL BALL SUCCESS: The Nittany Lions had an impressive fall season as they welcomed their newcomers to the fold. Penn State went 5-1, including a back-to-back doubleheader sweeps in the Nittany Lion Fall Tournament, beating Virginia Tech (3-2), Iona (5-0), NCAA Division II Champ Lock Haven (4-2) and Saint Francis (2-0). In the Iona game, Lisa Akamine fanned 14 batters and was two outs away from a no-hit bid. Prior to the tournament, the Lions played a doubleheader against local rival Bucknell. Jackie Hill tossed a no-hitter to give Penn State a 1-0 victory in game one, while Akamine allowed just one earned run in a 2-1 eight-inning loss in the nightcap.
LION ALUM KINLEY PLAYS NPF: Former All-American and 2009 Alum Danielle Kinley made her debut with the Philadelphia Force this past summer as a starting first-baseman. The former Nittany Lion had 17 hits, seven RBI, three doubles and a homer during her rookie campaign.
PSULIONSOFTBALL ON TWITTER: Nittany Lion softball is now on Twitter. Keep up to date with inside information and exclusive access @PSULionSoftball.
NITTANY LIONS ON YOUTUBE: Check out exclusive interviews after every game on GoPSUsports.com and the GoPSUTV YouTube Channel (Youtube.com/GoPSUTV) and click on the softball playlist on the right side of the page.
NEXT TIME OUT: The Nittany Lions will get an extended period of rest for the first time all season as the team won't play a game for 10 days. The next matchup is Penn State's home opener on Wednesday, Mar. 24 vs. Saint Francis (Pa.) at 6:00 p.m. PSU opens Big Ten play at home against Minnesota on Mar. 27 (2 p.m.) and 28 (11 a.m.).
Bid on an Autographed Softball, Signed by the 2010 Nittany Lion Team (Auction Expires March 10)