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Penn State Continues Big Ten Play at Iowa

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April 3, 2009

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The Hawkeyes enter the series 29-7 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten Conference after sweeping Illinois 1-0 and 9-1. Iowa boasts some of the strongest batters in the conference as Colleen McGlaughin and Liz Watkins combine for 62 RBI. Brittany Weil has demonstrated a lot of control in the circle with an ERA of 1.10 and a recent perfect game against Illinois. She has struck out 200 batters in 140.0 innings of work. In addition, she was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 23.

This weekend will be the 50th and 51st meeting between Penn State and Iowa. The Hawkeyes lead the series 37-12.

Penn State enters the series 9-18 overall and 0-6 in Big Ten play after two losses to No. 10 Michigan during a mid-week double header. Freshman third baseman Ashley Todd (Mill Creek, Wash.) lead the Lions with a batting average of .333. Senior center fielder Sam Hovanec (Pittsburgh, Pa.) isn't far behind at .319 with three doubles and four home runs. Sophomore shortstop Desi Giordano (West Caldwell, N.J.) has accumulated 11 extra-base hits, seven of which are home runs for an impressive .611 slugging percentage.

Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) has seen increased time in the circle, but her ERA of 5.29 is not reflective of her contribution to the team. Over the year she has struck out 87 batters in 96.2 innings of work, 21 of which went down looking. Her ability to move the ball has aided in her success of fanning 6.33 batters per seven innings.

Penn State has notable wins against then-No. 13 DePaul, 4-1, and then-No. 12 Arizona, 9-6. The win over the Blue Demons came at the NFCA Leadoff Classic as the Nittany Lions rallied in the sixth to plate four and never looked back. Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) threw a one-hitter in the victory. More recently, the Lions upended the Wildcats of Arizona at the Judi Garman Classic with an explosive first inning as they drove in four runs with the help of a three run blast by Hovanec. Arizona threatened as the Wildcats brough the score to 4-5 in the fifth, but Penn State mimicked the success of the first inning in the sixth with four more runs as Giordano added a three-run shot of her own.

On a wet afternoon in University Park, Pa., the Nittany Lions succumbed to the hitting prowess of No. 10 Michigan losing both games of the mid-week double header. The Lions got off to a slow start in game one as the Wolverines ran up the score. Penn State's only run came in the fourth as Sam Hovanec reached second on an error and Desi Giordano traded places with her on a double of her own. But it wasn't enough as Michigan won the game in a 9-1 decision.

Game two went a little better, but not before the Wolverines put up five runs in the first innins. The Lions responded in their half of the frame scoring three run on three hits. With this effort, Penn State was right back in the game, but Michigan poured it on scoring six more runs before the game ended with a final score of 11-3.

Penn State fell in both games of its home doubleheader with Iowa, 5-2 and 6-4. The Nittany Lion offense could never get going as they trailed for 11 of the 14 innings played.

Ashley Esparza pitched the first game going the full 7.0 innings while registering jut one strikeout and allowing four walks. She also led the team at the plate as she went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored with a line-drive solo homerun in the fifth. Sam Hovanec picked up the only other RBI as she singled down the left field line to score Desi Giordano.

In game two, the offense got fired up in the fourth as Kayce Zielinski hit a bases loaded triple to register three RBI. Two other Nittany Lions registered hits including Hovanec and Hollee Haines.

Jackie Hill got the start as she went 5.0 innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Jenn Reynolds pitched the remaining 2.0 innings allowing just one hit and striking out one.

Penn State last beat the Hawkeyes in a 1-0 victory at Iowa in the night cap of the 2006 series.




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