Nittany Lion Softball Treks to Michigan State Wednesday
April 5, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State caps its six-game road trip with a Wednesday doubleheader at Michigan State at 3:00 p.m. from Secchia Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. Both games will have live stats coverage through GameTracker and commentary on Twitter.
Games #31-32 April 6 Secchia Stadium East Lansing, Mich.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS: A young and feisty Michigan State (19-14, 1-3 Big Ten) awaits Penn State at its renovated ballpark, Secchia Stadium, on Wednesday. The Spartans split its weekend series with Wisconsin with an 8-0 win followed by a 10-4 loss. MSU fell to 1-3 in Big Ten play after it was swept by Illinois the weekend before. The Spartans have infused a powerful lineup with quality pitching from freshman ace Cassee Layne (8-9, 3.01 ERA) to its winning record. Layne has thrown 102.1 innings in her inaugural campaign while holding opposing batters to .256 hitting and striking out 77. Junior left-hander Lauren Kramer has returned to East Lansing with a 7-3 campaign, but a 4.91 ERA in 51.1 innings of work. At the plate, senior shortstop Lindsey Hansen has been a force with a .402 average accompanying 12 homers, 37 RBI, two triples and three doubles, which bolster her slugging percentage of .824. As a team the Spartans bat .284 with 29 homers and slugging .446. Last year, PSU and Michigan State split in Happy Valley with the Spartans pulling out a 1-0, eight-inning victory before Penn State won 2-1 in a mid-week doubleheader.
Michigan State's pitching staff history vs. Penn State can be found in the game notes.
PITTSBURGH RECAP: Penn State ran into a hot Pittsburgh Panther squad Tuesday, Mar. 29, as Pitt inaugurated Vartabedian Field at the Petersen Sports Complex. The Panthers gained an early unearned run in the third inning before Cassidy Bell singled home Rachel Myers to knot the game in the fifth. Right-handed hurler Lisa Akamine couldn't hold the Panthers at bay as Pitt scored a walk-off run in the seventh inning, tagging Akamine with the loss despite a solid outing. Akamine struck out six, scattered six hits and walked three to fall to 6-6 on the year. In Game Two, Pittsburgh pitcher Karlyn Jones retired the first 16 Nittany Lions and carried a no-hitter through 5.2 innings, but Bell struck again bombing a 2-2 pitch for a 2-0 PSU lead. Jackie Hill fired her fifth shutout of the year with a career-high 12 strikeouts while giving up just four hits and walking none to capture career win No. 53, tying her with Missy Beseres for most in PSU history. Bell went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI for the Nittany Lions.
BIG TEN/INAUGURAL OPENER RECAP: Penn State played in the highest-scoring game of the year in the inaugural opener of Beard Field and Nittany Lion Park on Saturday, Mar. 26, as the Lions won 8-5 over Wisconsin. Penn State fought back from a three-run deficit keyed by an inside-the-park homer by Lisa Akamine in the fifth to tie it and a three-run sixth inning to clinch the victory. Akamine was also instrumental in keeping the Badgers off the board as she pitched 3.2 innings of scoreless and hitless ball. The sixth-inning rally was started by an Alyssa Sovereign double to lead off and a Kasie Hatfield single put PSU ahead 6-5 with one out. Cassidy Bell doubled home two more runs to cap her 2-for-4 day. The next day, the game belonged to Bell as she doubled in both her first two at-bats before being walked in the final two. Penn State held a 1-0 lead before a solo homer by Wisconsin in the fourth tied the game up before the Badgers scored a run in the top of the eighth for a momentary lead. Bell earned first on a five-pitch walk, eventually scoring from third on a passed ball to tie the game. The next batter was Sovereign and she laced a single to left to score Shannon Hutchinson to give Penn State the 3-2 walk-off win, the first for PSU in 2011. The two comeback victories were just the second and third of the year.
BIG TEN WEEKLY HONORS: Penn State softball student-athletes Lisa Akamine and Cassidy Bell were recognized by the Big Ten Conference for their efforts in the Nittany Lion sweep of Wisconsin (Mar. 26-27). Akamine was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, while Bell took home Co-Player of the Week honors with Liz Watkins of Iowa. Akamine allowed a lone hit in 8.2 innings of work while winning Saturday's inaugural game at Beard Field for the Nittany Lions and starting Sunday's victory against Wisconsin. Akamine proved instrumental in the win over the Badgers on Saturday, coming in relief to earn the win while pitching 3.2 innings of scoreless and hitless softball. The award was Akamine's second having won it similar honors on Mar. 29, 2010. Bell captured her first Big Ten weekly honor as Co-Player of the Week for her four-double effort against the Badgers this weekend. The sophomore centerfielder was only retired once all weekend by the Wisconsin pitching staff as she hit .667 with two RBI and game-tying run on Sunday in the eighth inning. Bell added two stolen bases and two runs scores as Wisconsin failed to get her out on Sunday during PSU's 3-2 victory. The last Nittany Lion to take home Player of the Week honors was Danielle Kinley on Feb. 13, 2007.
RPI UPDATE: Penn State sits in 44th place in the latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (Mar. 28), the primary tool used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Last week the Nittany Lions were 47th and Penn State has a 4-7 record against the Top 50, including a 2-4 mark vs. Top 25 foes. Illinois is rated 33rd while fellow Big Ten opponents Michigan (7th), and Northwestern (37th) are join PSU and Illinois in the Top 50. Penn State still faces battles with Longwood (60th), Purdue (61st), Michigan State (64th), Iowa (71st) and Minnesota (92nd).
For the rest of the team's recaps this season, check the complete game notes
BUZZ CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Penn State had one representative, Jackie Hill, on the 10-person Buzz Classic All-Tournament Team. Hill went a perfect 2-0 during the weekend, allowing just two earned runs against Jacksonville State, while shutting out Massachusetts.
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU: Senior co-captain Desi Giordano climbed up the record books on Feb. 18 with a long bomb to left field, her first of the season and 20th in her career. The homer moved Giordano into a tie for fourth all-time at Penn State with Jen Acunto (2005-08). Giordano is just three off from matching Jennifer Tripken (1999-2002) and five from Ashley Esparza (2005-08) from third and second, respectively. PSU's all-time home run leader is Shannon Salsburg who belted 34 from 1995-98.
BIG LIFE. BIG STATE. BIG TEN NETWORK: Four Penn State softball games will be televised live by the Big Ten Network in 2011. PSU's doubleheader will be the live TV debut of Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field when Penn State plays host to Michigan on Apr. 20. The doubleheader starts at 5:30 p.m. against the defending Big Ten champs. A third home contest will be aired May 1 against Purdue at Noon while a lone away game, vs. Iowa, will be shown May 8 at 2:00 p.m. All game times are Eastern. In addition to the live schedule, the Nittany Lions will be apart of several BigTenNetwork.com streaming productions, which are run through the Big Ten Network's Student U initiative. Many of those games are shown on the Network the following day in a tape delay fashion after their live stream. Penn State will have two such series on BTN.com as Kent State and Northwestern games at Penn State will be on there.
PSULIONSOFTBALL ON TWITTER: Nittany Lion softball is now on Twitter. Keep up to date with inside information and exclusive access @PSULionSoftball.
NEXT SERIES: Penn State returns home for a two-game set against Indiana starting Saturday, Apr. 9 (5:00 p.m.) and concluding Sunday, Apr. 10 (2:00 p.m.). Prior to the two-game home set, a special dedication ceremony will be held to honor Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. Penn State dignitaries such as President Dr. Graham Spanier, Director of Athletics Tim Curley, Board of Trustees chairman Steve Garban and the Beards will be on hand among others.