Nittany Lion Softball Set for First Big Ten Road Series at Purdue Starting Saturday
April 2, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State softball hits the road for its first Big Ten road series of 2010 as the Nittany Lions (21-9, 1-1 Big Ten) travel to Purdue (15-19, 0-2 Big Ten). Both games will have GameTracker coverage as well as free live streaming audio provided.
Penn State is coming off a doubleheader sweep in which the Nittany Lions staged two comeback wins over Kent State on Wednesday. PSU was down 2-0 and went on to win 5-2 in the first game before mounting an even larger come back in Game Two with a six-run sixth-inning rally powered by Danee Collett's three-run homer. The Lions went on to win the second game by a score of 9-5. Jackie Hill picked up a win and a save, while Kailyn Johnson added two doubles.
Purdue is 15-19 and 4-1 at home after a 3-1 week in back-to-back doubleheaders against IUPUI and Butler. The Boilermakers took both games against IUPUI on a couple of one-hitters and a third was added against Butler before falling in the nightcap to the Bulldogs, 3-0.
(21-9, 1-1 Big Ten)
(15-19 0-2 Big Ten)
Games #31-32: April 3-4, 2010 Purdue Varsity Softball Complex West Lafayette, Ind.
SERIES HISTORY: The Penn State-Purdue series has seen each team go on some major tears despite the fact Penn State leads 20-16 overall. PSU is on a seven game skid against the Boilers, but before then, the Lions had won four straight and 17 of 21 dating back to 1997. Purde hasn't dropped a game to the Nittany Lions since a 7-1 setback in West Lafayette on Mar. 31, 2006. Last season, Penn State fell 2-0 and 3-2 on the Big Ten Network during Blue-White Weekend in Happy Valley.
FIVE MULTI-RUN COMEBACKS: Penn State has overcome multi-run comebacks five times this season, three of which have come in the past week. The first major comeback camein a 7-2 game in the third inning against Colorado State, as Penn State would go on to win 9-8 in extra innings. PSU staged a comeback with four unanswered runs in a 4-2 win over Florida Gulf Coast on March 14. Just this past Saturday in Game Two vs. Minnesota, PSU found itself down 2-0 after a half-inning and would go on to outscore the Golden Gophers 8-1 the rest of the way before the comebacks of two and three runs over Kent State on Wednesday.
BIG TEN OPENING DOUBLEHEADER vs. MINNESOTA: Penn State split an impromptu doubleheader on March 27 against Minnesota to kick off the Big Ten campaign. The Nittany Lions dropped the first game 3-2 after falling behind 3-0 and rallying with two runs in the seventh to get within one. With two runners on, Minnesota managed a ground out to killy the rally and pick up the win. In Game Two, which was moved up from Sunday morning to Saturday due to a poor forecast, Penn State fell behind again, this time 2-0, after one half inning. The Lions exploded for seven runs in the next three innings, never looking back en route to a dominating 8-3 win. For the two games, Ashley Griffith and Cassidy Bell hit .500, a combined 5-for-10 with six runs scored at the top of the lineup, while Lisa Akamine and Danee Collett each went 3-for-7. Collett added two runs, a double and two RBI as well. In the circle, Akamine got the win in the second game with a complete game, two-run effort, allowing four hits and walking nine.
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 March 24 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.
JEKYLL AND HYDE DOUBLEHEADERS: Last week, Penn State's two doubleheaders had a defining theme-the team that barely hit in the first game was explosive in the second game. In each of the first Game Ones last week, both resulting in losses for the Blue and White, the Lions hit just .160 with only one extra-base hit, a home run by Danee Collett. Moreover, Penn State was getting on base at just .300 and slugging a paltry .220 along with the eight hits and five runs. Collett hit .500, while Lauren Rossi (.287) was the only other batter with an average above .200. Conversely, in the combined Game Twos, Penn State hit .407 with a .493 on-base percentage and slugging .593. The Lions belted 24 hits, seven of them extra-base hits (five 2Bs, 2 HRs) and scored 16 times. Individually, seven PSU batters were at .400 or above, three of which (Cassidy Bell, Desi Giordano and Lisa Akamine) had four hits apiece.
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, March 27th's game against Minnesota, Game Two vs. Pittsburgh (Apr. 4), both Michigan State games (Apr. 14) will kick off the radio slate. Other games to be broadcast are against Illinois (Apr. 17), Iowa (Apr. 24), Syracuse Game One (Apr. 27) and Ohio State (May 8). ComRadio traveled with the team on March 31 to Kent State for a doubleheader, the first away broadcast by a Penn State crew to do a softball game. 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 22 of the final 27 games will have live coverage from the broadcast booth including this weekend's series at Purdue.
ABOVE AVERAGE HITTING: Penn State hitters in 2010 are hitting .281 through the team's first 30 games. Four starters-Lauren Rossi (.316), Danee Collett (.360), Cassidy Bell (.378) and Ashley Griffith (.314)-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 .103 above last season's average of .257, already exceeding her homer total from a year ago (3) with five dingers in 2010.
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.
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/Lauren Rossi) 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.
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 have a quick turnaround as after a Monday off day they return to Happy Valley to host Pittsburgh. The doubleheader is set for 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday with live coverage on GameTracker for live stats and radio on 1390 AM WRSC and GoPSUsports.com All-Access.