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Lions Host Northwestern in Blue-White Weekend Series

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Alyssa Renwick

April 18, 2013

Notes: Games 39-41Get Acrobat Reader

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State welcomes Northwestern for a three-game set at Beard Field and Nittany Lion Softball Park. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. Friday and the squads meet again at 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Friday, 6 p.m. - GameTracker
Saturday, 4 p.m. - GameTracker
Sunday, 1 p.m. - GameTracker

Fans can also follow along with live updates on Twitter from @PennStateSB.

University officials are ramping up security this week and throughout Blue-White Weekend, much like other venues across the nation in the wake of the bombings that occurred in Boston on April 15. For more information, visit the full release here.

Except for authorized personnel, no one entering Nittany Lion Softball Park and all athletic facilities will be permitted to bring in any bags, backpacks, umbrellas, strollers, purses or diaper bags. Anyone with a medical need to carry a bag should place their medical supplies in a clear, one gallon, zip-close style plastic bag. Parents with a need to carry diapers and wipes also may place their supplies in a clear, one-gallon zip-close style plastic bag so the contents are visible.

In collaboration with local police, the FBI, and Pennsylvania State Police, Penn State officers and personnel will have a heavier staffing presence and higher visibility at all events.

"If those who are coming to any event on campus see something that looks unusual or out of place, they should immediately call 911 or University Police at 814-863-1111," said Steve Shelow, assistant vice president for police and public safety at Penn State. "We are asking people to remain vigilant and alert."

With many events on campus Saturday, including the Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium, softball fans are advised to arrive between noon and 2 p.m. or as close to 4 p.m. as possible. Between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., many streets around Nittany Lion Softball Park will be turned into one-way exits for football traffic.

If arriving before noon, fans will be parked with football traffic in available lots around Beaver Stadium and the surrounding areas. Softball fans will be parked at NLSP until the surface lots are full and will then be directed toward the grass lots south of the park.

Friday night's game is Military Appreciation Night at Beard Field and Nittany Lion Softball Park. Any active or retired members with military identification will be admitted for free and receive three additional tickets.

Fans will receive free foam fingers at the gate as long as supplies last Saturday. Autograph sessions with the team will follow both Saturday and Sunday contests.

After hosting Northwestern, the Nittany Lions wrap up their seven-game homestand with a Wednesday twinbill against Kent State before hitting the road for a series against Iowa in Iowa City April 26-28. Penn State wraps up the regular season with a series against Nebraska at home.

Northwestern enters the series having played its last 12 games at home, finishing with an 8-4 ledger over that span. The Wildcats opened by taking two of three against Minnesota before sweeping Illinois and closed by dropping the first two contests of a three-game series to Iowa.

Four Wildcats have accumulated batting averages higher than .400, led by Amy Letourneau (.448) and Marisa Bast (.441). Anna Edwards (.438) and Mari Majam (.417) also join that group. Letourneau, Edwards and Bast have combined to hit 12 home runs in the 11-game span. On the season, Andrea DiPrimi leads the squad with a .367 average at the dish.

Letourneau (14-9) carries a 2.16 ERA through 149.0 IP, including 19 complete-game performances with three shutouts. Meghan Lamberth (8-4) follows with a 4.28 ERA in 72.0 innings of work and four shutouts.

Penn State claimed both contests in the teams' last meeting in 2011, a doubleheader in University Park, breaking a six-game winning streak for the Wildcats. Northwestern holds the all-time series lead, 15-40. Customarily a doubleheader opponent, the Nittany Lions have not faced Northwestern in a three-game series since 1999 when NU took two of three decisions.

Through April 14, senior outfielder Cassidy Bell ranked in the Top 20 nationally in home runs per game (3rd/0.47), slugging percentage (2nd/1.059), on-base percentage (8th/.574), runs per game (14th/1.11) and batting average (17th/.455). Bell is fifth in the nation in home runs (17), just four off leader Lauren Chamberlain from Oklahoma, and is 27th in walks per game (0.75).

With a home run in the first inning against Ohio State April 13, Bell broke the Penn State single-season record with her 17th of the season, passing Jennifer Tripken's mark of 16 from 2002. Bell hit her 18th of the season Wednesday against Purdue to break her tie with Shannon Salsburg (1995-98) at the top of the career leaderboard, posting the 35th of her career.

Noting her offensive capabilities, opposing teams have opted to intentionally walk Bell 13 times this season.

Bell was named a finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award April 11. She is one of 11 seniors on the 25-player list.

Ten finalists will make the May 8 list before the group is narrowed to the three May 22. The winner of the award will be announced in the lead-up to the 2013 NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City May 28.

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 (.355), first in home runs (35), second in runs (129) and total bases (354), tied for fourth in doubles (38) and RBI (107), tied for fifth in walks (83), tied for sixth in hits (193) and 11th in stolen bases (37).

The 2013 season has been efficient for the senior, as Bell currently holds the top spot with a .459 batting average, holds the title with 18 home runs, ranks third in total bases (116), fourth in runs (43) and RBI (39).

Kailyn Johnson is tied for fifth all-time in walks (83), sits in 12th in doubles (28) and is within striking distance of hits (143), home runs (15), total bases (216) and RBI (105).

As a team, Penn State is 48th in the nation in home runs per game (0.48). Six Lions have recorded two or more this season while the team has produced 14 of its total of 36 (39%) in the last nine contests. Bell has hit four over the nine games, Jones and Johnson both have three, while Yao has notched a pair.

On the season, Bell leads with 18, followed by Jones (5), Johnson (4), Habitz (3), Furuya (2), Yao (2) while Abeyta and Presto have one apiece.

Seniors and freshmen account for 140 of the squad's 153 RBI (92%) and 240 of 275 hits (87%) this season. Of the team's eight first-year players, four (Furuya, Habitz, Jones, Knief) have started 20 or more contests. The senior trio of Bell, Johnson and Renwick has started every game they have played this season while Hutchinson and Yao have been in the starting lineup in 31 and 29 games, respectively.

Defensively, Jones has thrown 129.1 of the team's 235.1 (55%) innings from the circle. She has accounted for all but one win this season while tossing 10 complete games with a team-best 82 strikeouts.

Ten of Penn State's 2013 opponents are listed in the April 16 Softball poll, including top-ranked Oklahoma. Other opponents include Texas (No. 7), Michigan (No. 9), LSU (No. 12), Texas A&M (No. 13), Washington (No. 14), Nebraska (No. 18), Arizona (No. T-25) and North Carolina (No. T-25) while Iowa is receiving votes. The same 10 programs are represented in the current USA Today/NFCA rankings, plus Hofstra.




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