April 3, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich.; April 3, 2014 - Penn State softball hits the road this weekend for its first Big Ten away series of the year, traveling to East Lansing, Mich. to take on the Michigan State Spartans in a three-game bout. The Nittany Lions look to gain their first conference win of the season and second consecutive victory after defeating Saint Francis (Pa.) on Wednesday evening.
PSU and MSU open the three-game slate on Friday at 3 p.m. and follow with1 p.m. matchups on Saturday and Sunday. Audio of all three games will be broadcast live on Michigan State’s SpartanSportsNetwork (www.spartansportsnetwork.com).
SERIES HISTORY vs. MICHIGAN STATE
The Nittany Lions hold a slight 27-24 advantage in the all-time series against the Spartans. Penn State is 22-24 when playing Michigan State in East Lansing with its last win on the Spartans’ home field coming in an 8-6 decision on April 6, 2011.
PSU dropped both contests vs. MSU last season but has won three out of the five last meetings between the two teams.
STAKING OUT THE SPARTANS
Michigan State enters the weekend at 8-21 overall after most recently losing to No. 23 Notre Dame on Wednesday in an 11-4 decision. MSU is 1-5 in conference play with its lone victory coming against Purdue last weekend.
Freshmen Kassidy Kujawa and Sarah Gutknecht lead MSU’s offensive strike. Kujawa is hitting at a team-best clip of .290 with 20 hits, 12 runs and 10 RBI while Gutnecht leads the team in hits and RBI with 22 and 21, respectively.
The Spartan pitching staff has combined for 96 strikeouts in 187.1 innings. Freshman Valerie Kaff heads into the weekend with a 4-9 record and has registered an ERA of 4.97 through 80.1 innings.
The Nittany Lions gained their first home win of the season on Wednesday night as they turned in a split effort vs. Saint Francis (Pa.). After failing to take game one, Penn State roared back in the late game to best the Red Flash, 9-1, in six innings.
Senior Alyssa Sovereign led the PSU offense with a 4-for-8 effort at the plate and scored one run. Freshman Shelby Miller also gave the Lions a spark, going a perfect 3-for-3 in the second game with a single, a two-RBI double and two runs.
Sophomore Lexi Knief is the top hitter for PSU through the first 29 outings. The outfielder is 31-for-86 at the plate for a team-best batting average of .360 and has scored a team-high 24 runs. She is tied for second in the league and 29th in the nation in triples with three and has posted three doubles on the year.
The Ramsey, N.J. product leads the Lions with an on-base percentage of .461 and is currently the 65th-toughest hitter to strike out in the nation.
LAU OF THE LAND
Freshman pitcher Marlaina Laubach has done the bulk of the work in the circle for Penn State, earning wins in five of PSU’s seven victories, including a signature win over No. 21 LSU. The Northampton, Pa. native has a team-best ERA of 4.04 through 69.1 innings. She has thrown 42 strikeouts on the season, including a season-high six vs. FAU (2/21).
FORMING GOOD HABITZ
Sophomore Karlie Habitz has proven to be the most powerful hitter in the PSU lineup this year. The Newhall, Calif. product leads the Lions with 23 RBIs and owns a team-best slugging percentage of .550. She has registered four doubles and a team-best four home runs. The catcher, who is hitting at a .350 clip, broke up two no-hitters last weekend vs. No. 6 Michigan and went 4-for-8 at the dish.
Habitz posted six RBI in the season opener vs. Oregon State (2/7), a mark that ties for the second most in program history.
Senior Kasie Hatfield is currently tied for fifth in the league in doubles, having already notched nine this season. The Tampa, Fla. native surpassed her previous season-best of eight doubles from 2012 in the second game of PSU’s doubleheader with Purdue.
Shelby Miller has turned in an impressive rookie campaign thus far for Penn State. The freshman has the second best batting average on the team at .356 and has been churning out the hits, posting a 21-for-59 mark at the dish through 24 games.
Miller has four extra-base hits under her belt with two double and two triples, each of which has come in the last three weeks of play.
The Nittany Lions continue either six-game road swing next weekend with a three-game series at Indiana. Penn State faces the Hoosiers on Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.