Nittany Lions Host Pair of Mid-Week Doubleheaders
April 12, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State softball continues its six-game homestand when it welcomes Kent State (Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.) and Buffalo (Thursday, 4:00 p.m.) to Nittany Lion Softball Park. The KSU doubleheader will be streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com. Both sets will have live stats coverage through GameTracker and commentary on Twitter (www.twitter.com/PSULionSoftball).
Games #35-39 April 13-14 Nittany Lion Softball Park University Park, Pa.
TICKET & MEDIA CREDENTIAL INFORMATION
More information: 2011 Nittany Lion Softball Park Ticket Information
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN FLASHES: Kent State (16-19, 6-2 MAC) enters the twinbill after a 2-2 weekend at home last weekend. The Flashes downed Western Michigan (5-4) in the nightcap of a Friday doubleheader after falling 8-6. The following day, KSU dropped a 19-12 decision to Northern Illinois before a 8-7 victory on Sunday. Kent State is a powerful hitting squad with a .301 overall average, 31 homers, 62 doubles and a .462 slugging percentage. Purdue transfer Beth Cinadr (.398) is the leading Golden Flash with 13 doubles while Lauren Grimes (.366) matches the 13 doubles. Jessica Carmichael has smashed nine homers this season while slugging .604. Where KSU struggles is in the circle with a team ERA over four runs per game and just one shutout. Opposing teams are hitting .330 at the plate, while Danielle Abernathy (9-5) has a team-best 3.90 ERA followed by Lauren McNeil (4-8) at 3.96.
Kent State's pitching staff history vs. Penn State can be found in the game notes.
SCOUTING THE BULLS: Buffalo (9-23, 4-4 MAC) enters Thursday's doubleheader after a 1-3 home weekend against Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. NIU used 13 innings to defeat the Bulls 10-9 before a 7-0 nightcap finished the doubleheader sweep while WMU won the first game 2-0 on Saturday before dropping a 5-4 nine-inning affair to Buffalo on Sunday. The Bulls take on Cleveland State on Wednesday for a mid-week doubleheader before traveling to Penn State. Buffalo hits .245 as a team lead by Alyssa Ward (.312) who has a team-best 29 hits, four doubles, a homer and 7 RBI. The Bulls rely on two main pitchers, Tori Speckman (5-8, 3.08 ERA) and Holly Johnson (4-9, 4.97 ERA) as the Bulls' staff has a 4.85 cumulative earned run average while allowing opposing batters a .306 average.
SERIES HISTORIES: Penn State won two games at Kent State last year, 5-2 and 9-2, to up its record over the Flashes to 22-15. PSU is 10-2 at home during Robin Petrini's tenure vs. KSU. The Nittany Lions have won 12 of the past 13 meetings with the Golden Flashes dating back to 2002. Penn State is 1-0 all-time against Buffalo with the lone meeting coming at the ECU Pirate Classic, a 6-0 Nittany Lion victory.
MSU MID-WEEK SPLIT: The Nittany Lion softball team was powered to a first-game victory over Michigan State, 8-6, by a Cassidy Bell grand slam before dropping the second game, 7-6, at Secchia Stadium on a damp and cold Apr. 6 afternoon. The second game was called due to darkness after five innings despite a furious five-run Penn State rally. PSU trailed 3-1 in the opening game before a Bell gave the Lions a lead they'd never relinquish. The nightcap was a wild game as the matchup pushed up against the fading light as PSU stared a 6-1 deficit in the face. Home runs by Kailyn Johnson and Lauren Yao lifted the Nittany Lions into a tie before a fifth-inning homer gave the Spartans the lead again and the game was called following the inning's conclusion. Both Bell and Johnson went 4-for-7 with 4 RBI and two runs scored, while Alyssa Sovereign went 4-for-6 with two RBI.
ILLINOIS RECAP: Undone by two errors in the first inning, Penn State found itself down 2-0 early to the Fighting Illini on Saturday, Apr. 2. The Nittany Lions responded quickly with a four-run fourth inning highlighted by an RBI single from Lisa Akamine to tie the game and a two-run home run by Kailyn Johnson to put Penn State up for good. Jackie Hill tossed a gem in the circle, going the distance while not allowing an earned run and scattering five hits and two walks to accompany the 10-strikeout performance, the most she's thrown in a Big Ten game. The victory not only improved PSU to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2000, but Hill became the all-time wins leader in Nittany Lion history. PSU also won its first game in Urbana since 2004. Sunday, Apr. 3 didn't go as well as Illinois broke open a 2-1 game in the second with a five-run barrage en route to a 12-2 win. The Nittany Lions were paced by Cassidy Bell and Johnson, neither of whom got out on Sunday, going a combined 3-for-3 with two walks and the team's lone RBI.
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: Penn State has a quick turnaround following Thursday's doubleheader as the Nittany Lions travel to Minnesota for a two-game set against the Golden Gophers. Game one is on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. ET before a Noon ET Sunday matchup caps the series.