March 14, 2013
Notes: Games 21-25
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.– Penn State softball returns to action at the 2013 Judi Garman Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton in Fullerton, Calif., with contests against No. 14/19 Arizona, No. 9/10 Texas, No. 16/18 Washington, DePaul and No. 1 Oklahoma. The Nittany Lions open the tournament against the Wildcats at 3:30 p.m. ET Friday before an 8:30 p.m. matchup with the Longhorns. The squad faces the Huskies and Blue Demons at the same times Saturday before wrapping up with a 12:30 p.m. showdown with the top-ranked Sooners Sunday.
The full schedule is available here.
ON THE HORIZON
The Judi Garman Classic is the final non-conference tournament of 2013 for Penn State as the team turns its aim toward Big Ten season with its first series of the year against Michigan State March 22-24 in East Lansing, Mich. The Nittany Lions open their home slate by hosting Michigan March 29-31 at Nittany Lion Softball Park at Beard Field.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Arizona (18-5) enters the weekend on an eight-game winning streak after finishing 8-0 at the Wildcat Invitational in Tuscon, Ariz., and sweeping a series against Boise State March 7-9. Sophomore outfielder Hallie Wilson carries a team-best .412 batting average to the tournament and is joined by six teammates batting better than .300 this season. Second-year catcher Chelsea Goodacre paces the squad with 27 RBI supported by eight home runs.
On the mound, junior Shelby Babcock has accumulated a 9-2 record with a 2.39 ERA through 70.1 innings of work while limited opposing batters to a .225 average at the plate. Junior Estela Pinon has spun the bulk of the remainder of the innings with a 3.59 ERA over 54.2 IP.
The Wildcats are led by 28th-year skipper Mike Candrea, who guided his 2012 squad to a 38-19 finish and a trip to the Oklahoma City Super Regional.
PREVIEWING THE LONGHORNS
Texas (23-3) won 13 contests to open the season and is powered by five players topping a .400 batting average. Senior Taylor Hoagland leads the pack at .469 with six homers and 23 RBI and is followed by freshman Stephanie Ceo (.440), junior Mandy Ogle (.420/25 RBI), junior Brejae Washington (.405/17 RBI) and third-year shortstop Taylor Thomas (.405/33 RBI). Taylor and Washington present threats on the basepaths as well, combining to swipe 27 bases in 2013.
Luna Blaire (11-0) has tossed 10 complete games this season, including seven shutouts, and leads the team with a 0.99 ERA over 71.0 IP while adding 134 strikeouts. Kim Bruins (7-0) follows closely with a 1.06 ERA through 53.0 innings.
The Longhorns reached the Eugene, Ore., Super Regional in 2012 before falling to Oregon in three games under head coach Connie Clark, now in her 18th year at Texas.
HUSKIES AT A GLIMPSE
Washington (19-5) has outscored opponents, 177-40, with strong performances from junior hurlers Kaitlin Inglesby (7-2) and Bryana Walker (10-2). Walker owns a 1.35 ERA through 77.2 innings with a 105-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio while Inglesby has put together a 1.13 ERA with 43.1 IP and a 37-8 SO/BB ratio.
Offensively, classmate Hooch Fagaly has excelled at the plate, leading the Huskies with a .475 average, six home runs and 28 RBI while drawing 20 walks for a .624 on-base average. Junior Victoria Hayward carries a .449 batting average with four doubles, three triples and a HR in 2013 and leads the team with 11 stolen bases. Inglesby has contributed not only on the mound, but also at the plate with a team-high 32 RBI with five doubles and five home runs.
Head coach Heather Tarr is in her ninth year at Washington. The Husky alumnae led the team to 39-19 record a season ago while reaching the Berkeley Super Regional after hosting an NCAA Regional in Seattle.
SCOUTING THE BLUE DEMONS
DePaul (12-8) is 8-2 in its last 10 contest and travels to California after a 4-1 showing at the Eller Media Stadium Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., March 1-3. Junior pitcher and first baseman Kirsten Verdun (8-4) leads the pitching staff with a 1.87 ERA and 75 IP, followed by classmate Hannah Penna (4-3) with a 3.41 ERA through 39.0 innings. Sophomore Megan Coronado paces the team with a .388 batting average, while Verdun has accounted for 14 of the team’s 68 RBI in 2013.
Blue Demon skipper Eugene Lenti is in his 32nd season with the program and led DePaul to a 2012 NCAA Regional berth while finishing 36-22 and 14-8 in the Big East.
A LOOK AT THE SOONERS
Top-ranked Oklahoma (23-1) has fallen just once this season, a 1-0 decision to former Big 12 foe Nebraska at home March 2. The majority of the Sooners’ contests have been lopsided in their favor as they have outscored teams 171-21 behind pitchers Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne. Ricketts (11-0) has a 0.87 ERA through 80.2 innings while Gascoigne (9-1) has thrown 59.2 innings with a 0.70 ERA. The two have combined to throw 140.1 of the team’s 148 IP while striking out 228 batters.
Lauren Chamberlain leads the team at the plate with 32 RBI and 13 HR while batting .500 this season. The Sooners have launched 36 home runs this season while six have accounted for three or more apiece.
Oklahoma fell one game and two runs short of a national title in 2012 after dropping the final contest of the season to Alabama, 5-4, last June in Oklahoma City. Head coach Patty Gasso, now in her 19th season at the school, is well on her way to yet another 40-plus win season.
QUITE THE SLATE!
Ten of Penn State’s 2013 opponents are listed in the March 12 ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25, including top-ranked Oklahoma. Other opponents include Texas A&M (No. 5), Texas (No.10), LSU (No. 13), Michigan (No. 14), Washington (No. 16), Arizona (No. 19), Nebraska (T-No. 21) and North Carolina (No. 24), while Wisconsin is receiving votes. Nine of the teams are also included in the current 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 (.344), sixth in doubles (32), second in home runs (27), fourth in total bases (297) and runs (108), eighth in walks (67), ninth in RBI (93) and 13th in hits (172), while approaching the charts in at-bats and stolen bases. Kailyn Johnson ranks sixth all-time in walks (78) and is within striking distance of at-bats, hits, home runs, total bases and RBI.
With 10 home runs this year, Bell has also put herself in a tie for third place in the all-time single-season record book alongside Jen Acunto (2005). Jennifer Tripken holds the top spot with 16 HRs in 2002 while Shannon Salsburg sits in second place with 12 (1995).
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 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 Hutchinson and Renwick lead practice and travel duties, respectively. Yao and Myers serve as dugout leaders and Johnson is the team’s off-field captain.
Senior Cassidy 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. Bell is the first Nittany Lion to make the preseason Top 50 list.
In addition, Bell and junior Kasie 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.