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April 11, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State travels to Columbus, Ohio, for a three-game series against Ohio State beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. The Nittany Lions (10-23, 1-7 Big Ten) and Buckeyes (23-14, 3-6 Big Ten) meet again at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
ON THE HORIZON
After traveling to Columbus, Ohio, for a three-game series against Ohio State April 12-15, Penn State returns home April 17 for a doubleheader against Purdue to open a seven-contest homestand, the club's longest of the season. That stretch also features visits from Northwestern and Kent State.
PREVIEWING THE BUCKEYES
Sophomore outfielder Taylor Watkins leads Ohio State with a .400 mark at the plate with 10 multi-base hits, including 6 home runs and 29 RBI. Four other Buckeyes, including Cammi Pranti, Leesa Gresham, Evelyn Carrillo and Shelby Pickett, top the .300 batting average mark. Junior first baseman Gresham paces the team with 31 RBI.
Sophomore pitcher Alex DiDomenico (8-6) owns a 2.95 ERA through 85.1 innings pitched in 21 appearances this year while limiting opposing batters to a .214 average. Sophomore hurler Olivia O'Reilly (7-5) has contributed 72.0 innings this season while accumulating 2.82 ERA.
Head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly leads the Buckeyes in her first year with the program. Ohio State finished with a 31-23 record last season, including a 10-13 mark in Big Ten play.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
The Buckeyes hold the all-time series lead, 42-29. Last year, the Nittany Lions took the middle contest of a three-game set at Nittany Lion Softball Park.
THE BELL'S CHIME
Through April 7, senior outfielder Cassidy Bellranked in the top 15 nationally in home runs per game (2nd/0.48), slugging percentage (2nd/1.079), on-base percentage (9th/.564) and batting average (12th/.461). She also nears the top of the charts in runs batter in per game (29th/1.13) and runs per game (24th/1.06).
Noting her offensive capabilities, opposing teams have opted to intentionally walk Bell 11 times this season.
The Nittany Lions have won three of their last four, thanks to strong performances on both the offensive and defensive sides. The squad is batting .312 over that span as seven players sport averages over .300. Alyssa Sovereign has a double in her lone at-bat, while Bell is swinging at a .667 clip (6-9) and Macy Jones is .583 (7-12). Karlie Habitz (.400), Kailyn Johnson (.385), Alyssa Renwick (.385) and Lexi Knief(.333) are also in that category.
Six batters have recorded two or more RBI in the four games, led by Johnson's five-RBI performance against Pittsburgh. Furuya follows with four while Jones and Renwick have both notched three. Bell and Lauren Yaohave two apiece.
Defensively, Jones carries a 0.43 ERA through 16.1 innings pitched with a 3-0 record. Jordan Wheatleyhas a 2.47 ERA in her last two appearances with 5.2 IP.
Multiple Nittany Lions will have opportunities to leave their names in the program career record book when the season is finished. Bell is currently second in batting average (.353), sixth in doubles (36), second in home runs (33), runs (124) and total bases (339), tied for fifth in RBI (104), tied for sixth in walks (80), tied for ninth in hits (190) and 11th in stolen bases (35).
Bell tied Jennifer Tripken (2002) for the single-season home run record with her 16th of the season against Saint Francis (Pa.) April 9. She trails Shannon Salsburg's (1995-98) all-time record of 34 by just one.
Kailyn Johnsonis fifth all-time in walks (81), sits in 12th in doubles (28) and is within striking distance of hits, home runs, total bases and RBI.
QUITE THE SLATE!
Ten of Penn State's 2013 opponents are listed in the April 9 ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, including top-ranked Oklahoma. Other opponents include Texas (No. 7), Texas A&M (No. 11), Michigan (No. 12), Washington (No. 13), LSU (No. 14), Nebraska (No. 18), Arizona (No. 22) and North Carolina (No. 24) while Iowa is receiving votes. The same 10 programs are represented in the current USA Today/NFCA rankings.
OUR STORY SO FAR
Penn State played its first 23 games away from home, including 1,000-plus mile trips to New Mexico, Florida and California and a trip down the East Coast to North Carolina, before opening its home schedule with a series against Michigan March 29-30. In all, the Lions traveled more than 12,000 miles over the first five weekends of play.
SAINT FRANCIS (PA) AND PITTSBURGH
Penn State took both of its midweek contests against Saint Francis (Pa.) and Pittsburgh, topping the Red Flash at home, 4-1, Tuesday before downing the Panthers, 11-7, on the road Wednesday. Jones picked up the wins in the circle both games while Johnson set a personal-best with five RBI and three hits and runs against the Panthers.
Penn State grabbed its first conference win of the season after taking the middle game of the set against the Hoosiers April 5-7. The Lions tossed their second shutout of the season as Macy Jones pitched 6.2 innings of scoreless work and the trio of Alyssa Renwick, Lexi Knief and Reina Furuyaaccounted for the three RBI.
The Nittany Lions could not derail the Spartans undefeated start to Big Ten season as they dropped a pair of contests in a Wednesday afternoon doubleheader in East Lansing, Mich., 4-1 and 7-1, respectively.
In the start in game one, Jones tossed her sixth complete game of the year, allowing three earned runs on eight hits while striking out six Spartans. In the second game, starting pitcher Christy Von Pusch went 3.2 innings for the Nittany Lions, including three scoreless frames to open the game, before finishing with five earned runs on six hits. Jordan Wheatleyclosed out the game, relieving Von Pusch in the fourth. Wheatley allowed just two hits over the final 2.1 innings.
The Wolverines claimed victory in all three contests over Penn State's Big Ten and home-opening weekend. Freshman Reina Furuya led the Lions with clutch hitting, producing four RBI, a pair of runs and a home run while senior Cassidy Bell followed with three RBI with a home run and a pair of singles. Kailyn Johnson added two RBI with a double over the series. Liz Presto and Alyssa Sovereigntallied one RBI apiece.
JUDI GARMAN CLASSIC
Penn State faced its toughest competition of the season at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., March 15-17, taking on four teams ranked 16th or higher nationally at the time, including top-ranked Oklahoma. The Nittany Lions benefited from a three-RBI effort from Abeyta to escape with a 7-6 win over DePaul as Macy Jonestossed her fourth complete game of the season in the victory.
UNDER ARMOUR SHOWCASE
The team downed Loyola (Chicago) after giving up a contest to Central Michigan in the middle of the week before finishing 2-3 at the Under Armour Showcase with wins over Toledo and Maine in Clearwater, Fla.
Yao led the squad with five RBI, all against Western Michigan with a pair of doubles. Bell, Jones and Johnson added three RBI apiece.
The Blue and White battled cold conditions and strong gusts at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., the following weekend as they finished the tournament 0-4, including one-run losses to then-No. 11 LSU and Longwood.
Bell added five RBI to her season total after finishing the weekend 7-12 (.583) at the plate with two doubles and two home runs. Freshman Taylor Abeyta posted three RBI over three games, while classmate Karlie Habitz and junior Kasie Hatfieldrecorded two each.
After rainy weather washed out Penn State's games with George Washington and North Dakota State on the first day of the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C., Alyssa Renwick bombed a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth to score Lauren Yaoto down Iowa State, 9-8, in eight innings before falling to North Carolina, 10-2.
TROY COX CLASSIC
At the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M., the Nittany Lions rebounded to take the final two contests against New Mexico State and Missouri-Kansas City after dropping decisions to Colorado State,
NMSU and Texas Tech. Cassidy Bell and Macy Jones combined to tally 18 of the team's 26 RBI at the tournament as Bell led the team with a trio of home runs and Jones tossed 14.2 innings to collect both wins on the mound.