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March 23, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --Penn State softball opens Big Ten Conference play at No. 20 Michigan with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. before a single game on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. All games will be broadcast live on BTN.com (Big Ten Digital Network) with live stats through GameTracker on GoPSUsports.com. The game action can also be followed on Facebook (PennStateSoftball) and Twitter (@PSULionSoftball).
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (7-15)
Games 23-25: Mar. 24-25 Wilpon Family Complex, Alumni Field Ann Arbor, Mich.
VENUE: Alumni Field (2,200)
COVERAGE: BigTenNetwork.com Webcast
SERIES RECORD vs. MICH: 7-47
LAST MEETING: 2/12/12, MICH 12-1 (5 inn.) in Baton Rouge, La.
NEXT SERIES: Mar. 31 (DH), Apr. 1 at Purdue
Nittany Lions travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. for the Big Ten opening series
Penn State faces the four-time defending Big Ten champion Wolverines
Lions in search of first win vs. Michigan since 2007, dropping 10 straight
Penn State is 6-14 all-time in Big Ten openers, 8-12 in Big Ten road openers
Alyssa Renwick leads the team with a .319 average on a team-high 22 hits
Nittany Lions went 0-2 at Judi Garman Classic in tough games to No. 10 ULL and No. 7 Oklahoma
Penn State is 2-4 against ranked teams this year with wins over LSU and Auburn
Nittany Lions will have a minumum of 15 games broadcast on BTN.com
Penn State is slated for at least three live appearances on Big Ten Network
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES
No. 20 Michigan (18-9) defeated Eastern Michigan, 10-2, in five innings to break a two-game skid and a three-of-four losing trend. The young Wolverines throw freshman Haylie Wagner (12-4, 1.26 ERA, .195 BAA) and Sara Driesenga (5-5, 2.51 ERA) primarily as they account for 90 percent of the innings pitched. Wagner has 58 strikeouts in 94.1 innings, while Driesenga has 32 Ks in 67 innings. Junior Stephanie Speierman (1-0, 1.83 ERA) returns as well for Michigan. At the plate, the Wolverines sport a lineup of big hitters including Amanda Chidester (5 HR, 7 doubles, 23 RBI) who belted a grand slam on Wednesday against EMU. Another big bat is Ashley Lane (7 HR, 13 RBI) despite her .234 average. Lauren Sweet has been a welcome addition for Michigan, leading the team in average (.296), gathering six doubles and two homers in the process. As a team, the Wolverines are hitting .255 with 20 homers.
All-time history vs. Michigan can be found in the PDF game notes
BIG TEN OPENERS
Penn State is 6-14 all-time in Big Ten openers with all six wins coming during head coach Robin Petrini's tenure. Last season, PSU opened Nittany Lion Softball Park in style with a rousing 8-5 victory over Wisconsin. In Big Ten road openers, PSU is 8-12 all-time after a 4-2 win at Illinois in 2011, capping PSU's first 3-0 start to Big Ten play since 2000.
Penn State has played arguably one of the toughest schedules in the country. In the current NFCA/USA Softball Top 25, PSU has played six opponents in Oklahoma (7th/7th), Louisiana-Lafayette (8th/8th), Michigan (20th/20th), Auburn (21st/21st), South Florida (22nd/22nd) and North Carolina (24th/25th). Also receiving votes are LSU, USC Upstate and Lipscomb. The Nittany Lions are 2-4 against ranked teams (when played) with victories at then-No. 22 LSU (5-2, Feb. 10) and over then-No. 19 Auburn (2-1, Mar. 4).
BIG TEN NETWORK SCHEDULE
Penn State will have at least 24 of its final 30 games broadcast live over the air on the auddio/GoPSUsports.com, BTN.com webcast or Big Ten Network. Below is Penn State's broadcast schedule for the remainder of the season.
Date, Opp., Gms., Coverage
3/24-25, at Michigan, 3, BTN.com
4/3, PITT, 2, BTN.com
4/7-8, MSU, 3, Audio/GoPSU
4/14-15, INDIANA, 3, Audio/GoPSU
4/21, at Wisconsin, 2, BTN.com
4/28, MINNESOTA, 2, BTN.com
4/29, MINNESOTA, 1, Big Ten Network
5/6, at Illinois, 1, Big Ten Network
5/11, OHIO STATE, 1, Big Ten Network
5/12, OHIO STATE, 2, BTN.com
Note: More games may be added
JUDI GARMAN CLASSIC ROUNDUP
Penn State fought hard, taking two tied games against top 10 opponents into the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, but fell to No. 10 Louisiana Lafayette and No. 7 Oklahoma at the Judi Garman Classic (Mar. 16-18). PSU lost to ULL despite keeping the high-powered Ragin' Cajuns to just five runs for only the sixth time all season. Lauren Yao registered a double and a run. The Lions then gave Oklahoma everything the Sooners could take before late homers doomed Penn State. Kailyn Johnson's solo shot tied the game at one before three home runs in the sixth and seventh innings broke the stalemate. Penn State would be unable to break its six-game losing streak as rain cancelled Saturday's action against BYU and Fresno State, while an unplayable field stopped Sunday's game against Cal State Fullerton from even starting.
SPRING BREAK TOURNAMENT FINALE
Penn State finished its Spring Break trip at the USF Under Armour Showcase (Mar. 9-11). The Nittany Lions exploded for eight runs in an 8-7, eight-inning win over Virginia Tech. From there, PSU couldn't find the timely hits in four successive losses to nationally-ranked USF, Central Connecticut, USC Upstate and Rutgers. In both the CCSU and USC Upstate games, Penn State had the bases loaded in the seventh, but fell by a run in both situations. Lauren Yao paced the Nittany Lion offense with a .538 average on two doubles, two runs and a team-high three RBI. At one point, Yao strung together six straight hits in official at-bats. Lisa Akamine hit .400, while throwing 24.2 of the 35 innings pitched.
CITRUS CLASSIC WRAP UP
Penn State had a tough beginning to the Citrus Classic (Mar. 2-4), losing 13-1 to Virginia before winning four straight. During the winning streak, Penn State beat LIU Brooklyn (8-2), N.C. State (5-3), Lipscomb (4-3) and No. 19 Auburn, 2-1, in nine innings. While PSU lost to Illinois State, 1-0, in the tournament finale, the Nittany Lions had their most positive weekend yet. Lisa Akamine went 3-1 in 21 innings of work with 20 strikeouts, while Alyssa Sovereign tallied two home runs, two doubles and four RBI on .333 hitting. Lauren Yao also hit .333 with a double and three RBI, while Alyssa Renwick went .33 with four runs scored and three RBI.
CAROLINA CLASSIC RECAP
The Nittany Lions came away from the Carolina Classic (Feb. 25-26) with a 1-3 record in four hard-fought games. Penn State fell 6-3 to Notre Dame, coming back from 3-0 down, only to have a three-run home run by UND in the sixth prove to be the difference. PSU fought back in the nightcap on Saturday, beating James Madison 5-4 after trailing 3-0. Sunday wasn't as kind to the Lions as a six-run sixth pushed North Carolina past Penn State, 11-3, and JMU held off a furious five-run rally by the Nittany Lions to win 10-8 in nine innings. For their efforts, Alyssa Renwick and Kailyn Johnson earned Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team nods. Renwick hit .500 with seven hits, while Johnson belted a homer and hit over .300 at first base. Johnson has now been on two straight all-tournament teams to start the year.
TIGER CLASSIC REVIEW
Penn State opened the season in fine fashion, upsetting then-No. 22 LSU in its home ballpark, 5-3, to begin the Tiger Classic (Feb. 10-12). Penn State used five runs in the fifth inning to create a 5-1 lead. The five-run, two-out rally was capped by Kasie Hatfield's three-run double to right centerfield. Lisa Akamine pitched all seven innings to earn the victory over the Tigers. Unfortunately for Penn State, the timely hitting was not available over the next two days of the tournament, dropping a 4-2 game to Lousiana Tech, while leaving 11 on base, and falling to LSU (1-0) and Michigan (12-1). What also failed the Nittany Lions were seven errors in the field that led to six unearned runs during the weekend. Kailyn Johnson was named to the Tiger Classic All-Tournament team thanks to her .364 average and 5.33 on-base percentage. Akamine posted a 1.85 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched while holding opposing batters to .195 at the plate.
Two Nittany Lion softball student-athletes were honored by CollegeSportsMadness.com on Wednesday, Jan. 4 on its preseason All-Big Ten teams. Senior pitcher Lisa Akamine and junior outfielder Cassidy Bell were placed on the second team.
PERFECT FALL BALL
Nittany Lion softball enjoyed a successful Fall Ball season, going 8-0 in two home tournaments, while out-scoring opponents 43-4. Penn State's bats were alive, hitting .283 with four home runs, while the pitching staff boasted a 0.25 ERA in its eight contests. Penn State's first tournament was hosted at Beard Field in the Nittany Lion Softball Park as PSU rolled to a 5-0 win over Bucknell and a 9-1, six-inning triumph against Delaware on Sept. 17. The following day, Penn State downed Bucknell, 2-0, before handing Lock Haven an 8-2 defeat. Danee Collett collected eight hits, batting .727 with four doubles, a homer and six RBI. In the circle, Lisa Akamine dazzled, going 10.2 innings allowing just two hits and two walks with 17 strikeouts against 39 batters.
During the second weekend of play (Oct. 1-2), rain and cool temperatures played havoc with the schedule as all games were moved inside to Holuba Hall with a makeshift field. Akamine was again the star in the circle, spinning 15 innings of scoreless ball and striking out 23 of the 55 batters she faced with just four hits against. Kailyn Johnson was the leader at the plate, hitting .600 with a double and a homer for four RBI in Penn State's 4-0 weekend. PSU downed Cleveland State, 1-0, in eight innings, before defeating Colgate on Saturday. The Nittany Lions bounced local squads, Indiana (Pa.), 9-1, and Saint Francis, 5-0, to cap the 8-0 Fall season.
NEW CROP OF NITTANY LIONS
Penn State formally announced its seven incoming Nittany Lions from the high school ranks on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. Joining the Nittany Lions as freshmen in the 2012-13 academic year are Taylor Abeta (San Diego, Calif.), Reina Furuya (Waikele, Hawaii), Shannon Good (Horseheads, N.Y.), Karlie Habitz (Santa Clarita, Calif.), Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.), Lexi Knief (Ramsey, N.J.) and Christie Von Pusch (Bryn Mawr, Pa.).
"The 2012 class is one of the largest classes we have ever signed and just oozes with talent," Head coach Robin Petrini said. "They are all very bright young ladies that understand the commitment, drive, and determination it takes to be successful in the classroom and on the field as a student-athlete at Penn State. We are very excited about what each one brings to our roster and we are eager to see them succeed throughout their careers."
NEXT TIME OUT
Penn State returns to action next week (Mar. 31-Apr. 1) to the road for another Big Ten road series, traveling to Purdue. PSU and the Boilermakers take part in a doubleheader at 1:00 p.m. Saturday before a 1:00 p.m. single game on Sunday. The Nittany Lions and Northwestern are the only teams on the road for the first two weeks of the conference season, while Iowa and Purdue enjoy the first six games of the Big Ten season at home.