Softball Welcomes Minnesota This Weekend in Big Ten Opening Series at Nittany Lion Field
March 26, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Nittany Lion softball team (18-8) kicks off its Big Ten season with a two-game series against Minnesota (14-20) on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Saturday's game will be carried live on 1390 AM WRSC in Happy Valley as well as on GoPSUsports All-Access.
This weekend's series is the Big Ten opener for both teams. Minnesota is coming off a 4-1 weekend at the Boise State Tournament, while Penn State split its doubleheader against Saint Francis on Wednesday at Nittany Lion Field. Last year, the team's split their series, a pair of 1-0 games in Minneapolis, Minn.
MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (14-20, 0-0 Big Ten)
Games #27-28: March, 27-28, 2010 Nittany Lion Field University Park, Pa.
Penn State hosts its 19th Big Ten home opener as Minnesota visits Happy Valley
The Nittany Lions are 5-8 all-time in Big Ten openers under Robin Petrini as well as a matching 5-8 in Big Ten home openers under Petrini, 0-1 vs. Minnesota in that span
Gophers hold 29-16 mark all-time against PSU, 15-9 vs. Petrini's squads
PSU split a mid-week doubleheader against local rival Saint Francis. SFU won the first, 5-3, and the Lions won 8-0 in the nightcap.
Lisa Akamine shut down SFU with 11.1 innings of scoreless pitching with 14 strikeouts
Three Nittany Lions hit homers on Wednesday. Danee Collett had a three-run shot in Game One; Desi Giordano and Lauren Rossi each had two-run homers in Game Two.
Penn State has won six of its past seven games dating back to Mar. 10 vs. St. Joe's
Minnesota enters with a three-game winning streak and having won four of its past five
Saturday is the first of eight games to be broadcast on the radio (1390 WRSC) this year
Final approval given to start construction on Beard Field, future home of PSU Softball on Mar. 19; Stadium will be ready in time for 2011 season
SERIES HISTORY: The series history between Penn State and Minnesota dates back to 1989 before the Lions were members of the Big Ten. Overall, Minnesota holds a 29-16 margin over Penn State, while also leading 15-9 in the series since head coach Robin Petrini took over the helm of the softball program. Last season, Penn State split the Gophers in Minneapolis in a pair of tight 1-0 pitchers' duels. This series will be the first time the two teams have met in Happy Valley since 2006, when the Lions swept Minnesota with two 3-0 wins. At Nittany Lion Field, Penn State is just 4-13 in the series.
BIG TEN OPENERS: Penn State will host its 19th Big Ten home opening game, having gone 5-13 all-time in those games. Overall, PSU is 5-13 in Big Ten openers with all five wins in both categories coming since Robin Petrini came on board in 1997 for 5-8 marks. The Lions are 0-1 against Minnesota in Big Ten openers.
SPLITTING SAINT FRANCIS: The Nittany Lions bounced back from a 5-3 afternoon loss to Saint Francis with an impressive 8-0, six-inning win over the Red Flash to split a Wednesday doubleheader. Penn State smashed three homers, one each from Danee Collett, Desi Giordano, and Lauren Rossi. In the circle, Lisa Akamine had her most dominant performance yet this year, tossing 11.1 scoreless innings, allowing just five hits, while walking none in a 14-strikeout performance. Akamine picked up the win in the second game to improve to 8-3, while lowering her season earned-run average to 2.65 and provided the game-ending hit, an RBI single, to finish things off in the sixth. The game also marked the final home opener in the 45-year history of Nittany Lion Field.
OFFICIAL RADIO BROADCAST HOME: On Thursday, March 25, Penn State announced the radio home of Nittany Lion softball for the remainder of the 2010 season. Eight home games will be broadcast on 1390 AM WRSC in the State College area. All of those games will also be streamed on All-Access for free so that fans can tune in and listen. As scheduled, Saturday's game against Minnesota, Game Two vs. Pittsburgh (Apr. 4), both Michigan State games (Apr. 14) will kick off the radio slate. Other games set to be broadcast are against Illinois (Apr. 17), Iowa (Apr. 24), Syracuse Game One (Apr. 27) and Ohio State (May 8). Other radio additions may be announced at a later date, specifically for away games. Combined with the two Big Ten Network television broadcasts and two bigtennetwork.com webcasts, at 12 of the final 26 games will have live coverage from the broadcast booth.
USF UNDER ARMOUR SHOWCASE SWEEP: The Nittany Lions endured a delayed start to the USF Under Armour Showcase when heavy rain wiped out play on Friday, Mar. 12. When play resumed, Jackie Hill put together three-straight masterpieces effectively shutting down Kennesaw State (5-0), Southern Illinois (1-0) and Florida Gulf Coast (4-2). Lisa Akamine helped lead the Lions past Boston College, 2-1, when Lauren Rossi's bloop hit scored two in the bottom of the sixth for the team's fifth-straight victory and a perfect 4-0 mark in the Showcase, the best record of all participants. Against Kennesaw State and Southern Illinois, Penn State received strong performances from Alyssa Renwick and Ashley Griffith who each hit 3-for-6 apiece in the two games with flawless performances in the field. In the circle, Hill went 21.1 innings with just a two-run homer against FGCU being the only blemish on her docket for the weekend. Moreover, Hill came in for the final out against Boston College to record the save with the winning run at the plate.
MIDWEEK SPLIT: After a tough 5-2 loss to Central Michigan, in which Jackie Hill was fighting a stomach illness, Penn State rebounded with a 6-3 win over Saint Joseph's. Lisa Akamine went the distance in the circle with eight strikeouts, while freshman Cassidy Bell went 2-for-3 with two runs scored in her first appearance in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Danee Collett, Morgan Long, Lauren Rossi and Alyssa Renwick all tallied one RBI apiece to lead the Lions at the plate. Against Central Michigan, Rossi belted her first collegiate home run.
USF UNDER ARMOUR INVITE RECAP: The Nittany Lions' 11-day stay in Florida got off to a strong start when Penn State knocked off Central Michigan (3-1) and Florida Gulf Coast (4-3) in a split doubleheader. For all that went correct in those games, the opposite happened the following day against Ball State, a 1-0 loss, and Florida International,a 5-0 loss. Penn State's bats started to go silent, registering just five hits, while committing seven errors, which led to four of the six runs allowed. The Lions looked set to suffer the same fate the next day against host South Florida, mustering just one hit, trailing 1-0 with two outs to go. Lauren Rossi belted a game-tying double to right center to send the game into extra innings and three more tallies in the 10th inning backed a career performance by Jackie Hill (10 IP, 1 ER 11 K) in the circle to capture a 4-2 win and a 3-2 weekend record.
ABOVE AVERAGE HITTING: Penn State hitters in 2010 are hitting .284 through the team's first 26 games. Four starters-Lauren Rossi (.400), Danee Collett (.329), Cassidy Bell (.372) and Ashley Griffith (.324)-are hitting above .300. Last season, the Lions struggled at the plate against a tough schedule, hitting just .246 with only one player Griffith (.311) above a .300 average. Six regular returning hitters have averages better than they did in 2009. The biggest margin for starters is Collett who is .072 above last season's average of .257, already exceeding her homer total from a year ago with four dingers in 2010.
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.
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. Last weekend, the Lions gave up just three runs in its past four games.
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.
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.
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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: Penn State hits the road for its final non-conference away event, a doubleheader at Kent State. The Nittany Lions take on the Golden Flashes starting at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31. Live coverage of the game will be announced through GoPSUsports.com on Tuesday, March 30.