Nittany Lion Softball Flies to Judi Garman Classic
March 16, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion softball team plays its final non-conference tournament at the prestigious Judi Garman Classic starting Thursday against No. 6 Arizona State and Fresno State.
Judi Garman Classic (Anderson Field/South Field, Fullerton, Calif.)
SPRING BREAK MID-WEEK RECAP: PSU's mid-week games got off on the right foot when Penn State pulled out a 2-1, eight-inning game at Kennesaw State when Cassidy Bell jacked her second homer of the week for the slim victory. Jackie Hill went all eight innings, striking out six while giving up a lone unearned run and three hits. PSU's bats went silent in the next two games dropping 2-0 and 8-0 decisions to Georgia Tech and No. 1 Georgia, respectively.
BUZZ CLASSIC RECAP: Penn State went a perfect 3-0 at the rainy and chilly Buzz Classic, which saw all of Saturday's games cancelled and another of PSU's matchups on Sunday, Mar. 5 get washed away. Jackie Hill and Lisa Akamine pitched back-to-back 1-0 shutouts against Massachusetts and Miami (Ohio), respectively. Both games were quite similar as Penn State needed solo home runs to win each game: the first against UMass came from Cassidy Bell and the second came from freshman Kasie Hatfield vs. Miami. In Sunday's night game, PSU square off with Jacksonville State as the two teams combined for 10 runs, 15 hits and three errors and the Nittany Lions pulling out a key 6-4 win. PSU fell itself down 2-0 after the Gamecocks opened the game hot with four straight hits. Danee Collett's RBI singles in the third and fifth evened the score before Kailyn Johnson rocked a three-run homer to right and give the Lions a lead they'd never relinquish.
SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS: No. 6 Arizona State (26-1) is on a roll having won 22 in a row after sweeping Western Illinois (12-1, 10-0) in run-rule games. Katelyn Boyden powers the offense with 10 homers, a 1.028 slugging percentage and 11 stolen bases while batting a team-best .507 at the plate. All the Sun Devil starters boast an average over .340 with seven Devils over .400 as the team collectively hits .407 with 42 homers and 37 doubles. While strong at the plate, ASU is tough in the circle as well with a team ERA of 1.54 led by Dallas Escobedo (12-0, 1.12 ERA) who has 117 strikeouts in 69 innings of work. Mackenzie Popescue (7-1, 1.14 ERA) and Hillary Bach (7-0, 2.60) have each worked 43 innings compiling 34 and 13 strikeouts, respectively.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Fresno State improved to 14-5 after a 3-2 defeat of Bradley on Wednesday before entering the Judi Garman Classic. The Bulldogs were ranked earlier in the season with a pitching staff led by Mackenzie Oakes (8-2, 1.64 ERA). Oakes has started six games while ace Michelle Moses has seen the bulk of the tougher competition in 12 starts with a 5-3 overall record and a 2.92 ERA. Fresno State bats .253 as a team led by Brooke Ortiz (.328) in average, but Moses supplies the power hitting six of the team's 12 homers and knocking in 16 RBI while hitting .288.
SCOUTING THE SOONERS: Super Regional participants a year ago, the ninth-ranked Oklahoma (22-5) team is dangerous on both sides of the ball. All-American Keilani Ricketts has been nearly untouchable with a 0.88 earned run average and a 12-2 record, striking out 151 batters in 88 innings while allowing only 48 hits and walking just 23. Jessica Shults is the Sooners' primary offensive weapon with 15 homers, 47 RBI and a .420 average at the plate. OU bats .333 as a squad notching 43 doubles and 35 homers this season while slugging .552.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS: The offensive-leaning Pacific Tigers (13-7) are coming off a split doubleheader series falling to Western Illinois, 10-6, after beating Drake, 2-1. The Tigers hit .310 with three hitters--Nikki Armagost, Amy Moore and Nicole Matson--notching a team-high 17 RBI. Moore and Matson have combined to knock nine of the team's 12 homers this year while Armagost leads the team with a .458 batting average. In the circle, Pacific has yet to find its stride as Armagost leads the squad in starts (11), appearances (12) and innings (57.0), but has a 3.56 ERA. Shaina Brock owns the team's best ERA at 3.25 but in just 23.2 innings. The pitching staff has a 3.77 ERA while allowing opposing batterss to hit .273 with 21 home runs.
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS: Boise State (14-8) is another powerful hitting team at the Garman Classic as the Broncos have hit 20 homers and own a .320 batting average. Allie Crump leads the team in average (.424) and homers (six) while Devon Bridges hits .404 with 19 RBI this year while chipping in with four homers. Crump also takes much of the pitching duties having started 12 games with a 3.74 ERA in 67.1 innings while Aubray Zell (4-1, 1.75) has pitched in 44 innings. The staff features five pitchers in total that have a 3.54 earned run average and allow .257 hitting to opposing batters.
CAROLINA CLASSIC RECAP: Penn State's bats woke up on the first day of the Carolina Classic in wins over FIU (3-0) and Georgetown (6-0). Jackie Hill threw a one-hitter, coming one strike short of a no-hitter against FIU. Freshman Alyssa Sovereign led the offense wtih a 6-for-6 day at the plate with three doubles, three runs, three RBI and her first career homer between the two games. Lisa Akamine captured a complete game shutout vs. Georgetown behind 10 strikeouts. In a frustrating and quirky Sunday, Penn State fell 1-0 to FIU after Cassidy Bell's homer in the fourth inning was wiped out by an umpire's appeal that Bell failed to touch home. That proved to be the difffence as FIU forced extra innings and went on to win in the bottom of the 8th. Against North Carolina, PSU hit the ball hard including two shots down each foul line that missed being crucial homers. Despite the many line drives, UNC's Lori Spingola picked up the perfect game, in a 3-0 win.
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: NEXT SERIES: The great anticipation of the 2011 season will finally become realized on Thursday, March 24 when Penn State hosts its first game in the newly-minted Nittany Lion Park, which is home to Beard Field. The Nittany Lions host Buffalo for a 4:00 p.m. doubleheader before opening Big Ten play against Wisconsin on Saturday, March 26 at 2:00 p.m. The four-game inaugural series will conclude on March 27 at 1:00 p.m. for the second game between Penn State and Wisconsin.